Blog Comment of the Day

It looks like our OAH session “Is Blogging Scholarship” is getting more post-conference attention than most of other sessions that took place in Atlanta this past weekend.  Not bad for a Sunday morning panel.

This comment, written by “ebharlowe,” was posted in the comments section of the Junto in response to Ken Owen’s post on blogging.

“I’m wondering if Messiah College’s Admissions office is keeping track of applicants who consider coming to Messiah because of John Fea’s blog?

Here is the entire comment:

As a faculty member who has been through the tenure process multiple times and who has sat on personnel committees a private liberal arts colleges and regional state universities, I have a different view of the tenure thing…

Let me say that there are, and should be, different standards for tenure at R1′s than for Liberal Arts and regional universities. The publishing bar is far lower at *most* non-R1′s and the committee is more likely to value the Ernest Boyer types of scholarship more.

This is not to say that you can get tenure without *any* refereed publications or university press books (though I’ve seen it happen). My experience is that a blog that focusses on disciplinary issues, like “the Junto”, would be well-received by tenure committees as an aspect of scholarship. Blogging is not a substitute for traditional scholarship, but at universities where continuous faculty engagement is valued over production, it will count. Bottom line to tenure aspirants….local conditions may vary.

The other two pillars of tenure are teaching and service. Blogs like “Historiann”, “Tenured Radical” and “The Way of Improvement Leads Home” are invaluable as commentary on the profession. Through their blogs each of these authors have become public mentors to young scholars. Blog posts generate on-line discussion of important professional issues. They also generate discussions at the academy’s equivalent of the water cooler, the Xerox machine.

Bloggers also offer ways to explore and discuss new pedagogies. “The Junto” has published on using particular assignments or sources in teaching, for example. Blogging demonstrates a commitment to improving one’s teaching and is more useful in thinking about teaching than a dozen teaching development workshops.

Another aspect of service is getting your university’s name out to a wider audience. Blogs generate publicity for the department in ways that the publicity brochure and website cannot. I’m wondering if Messiah College’s Admissions office is keeping track of applicants who consider coming to Messiah because of John Fea’s blog? Are more students considering graduate work at Colorado State after reading Ann Little or Jonathan Rees? University PR folk love publicity. Shouldn’t bloggers get credit for this in their tenure/promotion file?

As with scholarship, maintaining a blog does not replace service on your department’s outcomes assessment committee or exonerate your poor teaching record but it *is* service to the department/profession and should be counted as such.

8 thoughts on “Blog Comment of the Day

  1. I did not know they were on the actual visit–or even had one scheduled–when they did it. Though neither of them are going to be liberal arts majors, I definitely would have introduced y'all if they hadn't chosen another school. Pretty sure *I* was more excited about them taking a history class there than they were 🙂


  2. Thanks so much Paul and Chris. We like to think that we are doing some very good things here at Messiah–both as a Christian institution AND as a liberal arts history department regardless of the church-relatedness of our school. Chris: Why didn't you tell me about your nieces? I would have made a point of making them feel welcome or at least finding them to say hello.


  3. It is true. My two nieces applied to Messiah because of a recommendation from me. My knowledge of the school is based entirely on this blog. Nieces did a campus visit last month but have decided on another school (alas).


  4. I had no real knowledge of Messiah College's history department prior to following this blog (nor more than a passing acquaintance with Bruce Springsteen or Messiah's highly successful womens' sports program). Now I think of it as an up and coming destination for undergraduates interested in history. Having a network of historians all over the country with that view of Messiah will pay dividends as they funnel students your way.


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