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ERIC Number: EJ907314
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
ISSN: ISSN-0039-3541
Sink or Swim: Navigating the Perilous Waters of Promotion and Tenure--What's Diversity Got to Do with It?
Knight, Wanda B.
Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research in Art Education, v52 n1 p84-87 Fall 2010
The "sink-or-swim" ideology is pervasive in the United States society. At research universities, for example, promotion and tenure are institutional waters in which faculty are forced to sink or swim with respect to publishing. Either they publish ("swim") or they perish ("sink"). In throwing faculty overboard, institutions assume that those who swim do so because of their hard work and ability and those who sink do so because they are not capable or they are not hard working. To the contrary, all intelligent and capable individuals may not have equal opportunities to swim or to be successful in navigating the perilous waters of promotion and tenure. The sink-or-swim ideology ignores contextual factors that might influence success or failure. Moreover, this manner of thinking does not consider that the same water in which some fish thrive, "others" die. This is congruent with research which established that underrepresented/underserved faculty at traditionally White research institutions experience the water differently than their White counterparts and, as a result, face a number of obstacles in the promotion and tenure process. In this commentary, the author discusses two recurring issues related to publishing, or "swimming," that emerged during 3 years of discussion among participants in the Pennsylvania State University Annual Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity (CORED) Promotion and Tenure Symposium, titled "What's Diversity Got to Do With It?" Continuing with the metaphor of swimming, the author highlights instances in which mainstream university structures and norms exclude or restrict the participation of underrepresented/underserved faculty. Further, the author cites examples of ways in which some underrepresented/underserved faculty immersed in White waters of academe have not had an equal opportunity to swim or succeed because the water is polluted as a result of racial bias and discriminatory practices. After discussing the implications of existing structural barriers for historically underrepresented/underserved faculty, the author discusses various ways in which individuals and universities might take positive steps to alter the tide of the status quo. (Contains 2 endnotes.)
National Art Education Association. 1916 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Tel: 703-860-8000; Fax: 703-860-2960; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania