A Puzzle Box; Not a Puzzle

I had a great conversation today with one of the folks from a2ru, the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, discussing different work that UF has done for evaluating, validating, and promoting interdisciplinary and collaborative work, including providing support for the full ecosystem that surrounds scholarly work, scholars, and intellectual labor. As a note, for the best and a super fast discussion of what it means to be an intellectual, see the speech by Dr. Ibram Kendi.
As one of the largest, most comprehensive and most complex institutions in the US, and as a public, land grant institution UF’s mission is on engaged work:

Mission Statement

The University of Florida is a comprehensive learning institution built on a land-grant foundation. We are The Gator Nation, a diverse community dedicated to excellence in education and research and shaping a better future for Florida, the nation and the world.

Our mission is to enable our students to lead and influence the next generation and beyond for economic, cultural and societal benefit.

The university welcomes the full exploration of its intellectual boundaries and supports its faculty and students in the creation of new knowledge and the pursuit of new ideas. (and more, see: https://catalog.ufl.edu/ugrad/current/uf-mission/Pages/home.aspx)

With the mission to serve Florida, the nation and the world, engaged work is one of the answers for how to meet and excel upon those goals. In 2016, a group at UF wrote the draft for “Best Practices for Cultivating Diversity and Public Engagement in Tenure and Promotion”, and this was one of the supports covered in the conversation this morning. Because all tenure decisions are local, alignment of statements of best practices and standards from professional societies, institutional missions, and so many other elements must be brought together to support excellence in terms of rigorous and high impact work.
Thinking about the conversation today, with the beautiful complexity of the supports needed reminded me of what Dr. Julian Chambliss shared last week in his invited presentation to UF on critical making. After his presentation, several folks had questions on how to do more with critical making in a way that fits for tenure and promotion. Chambliss responded that a tenure and promotion packet can be like a puzzle box, lots of different pieces can fit in a lot of ways, it’s intricate and complex, but don’t make it complicated and don’t make it a puzzle; show how these pieces all fit together. This is the best/simplest explanation I’ve heard on tenure and promotion packets, so I shared it on the call this morning. I’m now sharing it on the blog because it captures the complexity, beauty, and possibility for how to present scholarly and intellectual work together as a whole, as connected, balanced, designed, related, and intentionally considered and represented.
I’m also very happy to note that I’m having ever more conversations on why we do scholarly work and how/why to best assess and consider to help that work take flight. These conversations, for me at least, begin with the digital/data age as enabling and quickly move to what is enabled and what this improves and how we can leverage, build, consider, and grow together.