On Friday, I received a spot of good news – I was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. It wasn’t necessarily surprising news – my internal letters of support were strong, and I was told by members of our promotion and tenure committee that my external evaluations (which I don’t get to read) were outstanding. Of course, all of this is very humbling, and I feel that – rather than just simply crossing some academic threshold into a life of ease – I have an obligation to use the freedom and privilege of tenure to continue to (hopefully) do good work. Still, it is gratifying news that took much effort and patience – and not just by me – to achieve.
Of course, now that it is official, I wonder what is next – both for me and for the research lines, in sport heritage and elsewhere, I have helped to build. In many ways, I have looked on this news a little like the fictitious Jed Barlet of West Wing fame; taking it in briefly, then moving on to the next item:
This week, in fact, I’m working with a couple of scholars on some research here in Belgium that’s entirely unrelated to sport heritage. I still have numerous projects in various stages of completion. Classes will still be taught. Grad students will still be supervised. In reality, my reality hasn’t much changed.
There are several good blogposts out there – here in particular – that make suggestions of what a post-tenure life might look like, and perhaps what that life should set out to achieve. And, thankfully, I have a sabbatical this autumn that might help me to think through what my tenured future might look like. I really can’t imagine pausing my research – I enjoy the writing and the collaboration process too much to simply put it on hold – though the focus of that research I think, and I hope, will broaden in the coming years. I feel, to an extent, I have taken on a role of a shop steward for untenured faculty in the past year, and I would like to continue this to a greater degree. I also hope to take a little better care of myself and my family going forward. The tenure process is not always great for one’s physical and mental wellbeing – stress, deadlines, and churlish behaviour from colleagues all being contributors – though I hope that these can be managed, rather than endured, a bit better. And, I hope to do “good” – whatever that means.
From a sport heritage perspective, I hope to have some time and space to think about what this topic means and where I would like the focus of my contributions to go going forward. My goal, at least for the past decade or so, was to firstly establish sport heritage as a research topic, and secondly get sport discussed in heritage research and heritage discussed in sport research. I think this has largely been accomplished and, thankfully, a few others appear to have grasped onto this sport heritage thing and are taking it in some new and exciting directions. I hope that I might build upon this work and, hopefully, contribute to new and exciting insights. But this will take time that I’m privileged to now have.