The tenured folks in my department had a big meeting on Friday about our Review After Tenure (RAT) process with one of the semi-big-wigs over in the Fort, the big administration building that looks like, yes, a Fort.
Basically, RAT feels like you're going through tenure again. There are three possible outcomes, though, instead of just one. 1. You exceed expectations and get a bump or raise (associates get a one-time bump, fulls get a raise. For associates, RAT comes the year before you can go up for full. So you get to do a big review process again the next year. Yay.) 2. You meet expectations and get a tiny one time bump or little raise. 3. You get does not meet expectations and get "remediation." If there's a problem with remediation, you can get fired.
A bunch of us were reviewed this year for RAT, and since we all put in basically a new tenure file, our colleagues working on the post-tenure committee had to do pretty much full tenure reviews on about a third of us. (It was the biggest cohort.)
The reviews use criteria laid out in an official document which has been approved by the Dean and Provost's office. So it should be meaningful, right?
The department, so far as I know (I was away last semester) gave us all "exceeds expectations" letters and votes. The chair weighed in, and gave us (so far as I know) all "exceeds expectations" reviews.
And the Dean knocked all but one of us down to "meets" and sent a little note saying that not everyone can exceed expectations. He didn't provide any criteria.
The common belief is that there's a designated and limited "pot of money" for these bumps and raises, and the administration has to limit the "exceeds" numbers to fit the pot. The semi-big-wig denied this, and said that there's no pot of money for these bumps and raises, but they come out of this pot of money for salaries and such... so, there's no pot of money, except there is.
So basically, we have a new big review every five years, which can result in losing one's job or not, and yes, it feels like tenure is dead.
I made this mistake of offering to take notes when the committee secretary who was chairing the committee in the absence of the usual chair asked if someone would. The meeting lasted an hour and a half, and it wasn't the sort of thing where the notes could say "discussion ensued" so it took a fair bit of time to type them up. (I did it right after the meeting so that things would be as fresh in memory as possible.) My notes ran 5 pages. Ugh.
So, my morale about my job is quite low, and I'm not the only one. As I was typing my notes (with my door open, and my computer screen placement has me facing the open door), several colleagues stopped on their way out to commiserate and share their own sense of unhappiness and low morale.