Last Thursday I talked to my colleague R. We both were up for tenure this year, and we both got it -- his case was more painful than mine, because he'd actually been up last year, but due to procedural mishandling by malevolent administrators, went up again this year. We both made it, which is great.
He asked me whether I'd been congratulated on this achievement. Pointing out what is an odd social failing in a department that actually is fairly civil (as English depts go). In some past years, the chair has announced tenurings at our last faculty meeting of the year; that didn't happen this year, I think as an oversight rather than deliberate snubbing. But in my dept people routinely manage to organize baby showers for faculty and staff; we can't manage a little reception, or even an email announcement, for people who've gotten tenure? (and don't even get me started on the heteronormativity of quasi-mandatory showers -- )
I'm not really concerned for myself personally, as I actually don't desire the limelight. To be fair, my chair said congratulations one on one to me when I told him I'd received the provost's letter (the final stage of decision-making at Large Urban U.). Those colleagues I'm close to already know I got tenure; the others might figure it out over the next few years. But I think it's significant in terms of what it says about academic professional/social culture. So my questions, for any readers who are associated with academic departments: does your dept mark tenure in any kind of way? or is it the great unspoken event? and why is that? no party because some people might have voted against the candidate? no party because we don't want to think about people who didn't make it? no party because there's the implicit (hypocritical) assumption that if you made it you should have and so it's not a big deal?
well, it is a big deal. So I'm just wondering if academic culture in other locations sustains rituals of some sort around this.