The Loss of Excellence: Starting Over

Madeleine Li

Just before I left for my campus visit in July of 2009, I called my mother to give her the good news: I was on the shortlist for a new tenure-track position. Suddenly there was a glimmer of hope that I would not have to go back to my old department for the terminal year of my contract.

My potential employer was a college in a tiny town, population 2,000, in a Midwestern state that I had never visited. Or so I assumed. When I started to explain to my mother where I would be for the next few days, she interrupted to remind me that I had, in fact, already been to this Midwestern state, along with my family. We had traveled there sometime in the late 70s or early 80s to visit an American family we had met while we were living in Europe. The family owned a ranch, with horses. It was the horses that jogged my memory finally.

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Careers Illustration -- Loss of Excellence (Tenure Denial)

Brian Taylor for The Chronicle

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