SARASOTA, Fla. (July 27, 2015) – Four USF Sarasota-Manatee assistant professors are celebrating milestones in their academic careers: attaining tenure.
Drs. Tricia Hunsader, Valerie Lipscomb, Nicholas Mastracchio, Jr. and Fawn Ngo received word of the prestigious honor last month at a USF Board of Trustees meeting.
“Given the high regard I have for my peers and USFSM, being awarded tenure is an honor,” Dr. Hunsader, an assistant professor of education, said.
It means “that colleagues here at USFSM as well as those from other universities who reviewed my work are confident that I will continue to contribute throughout my career to scholarship in my field, to developing our university, and to excellence in teaching,” said Dr. Lipscomb, an assistant professor of English in the College of Arts & Sciences.
In the broadest sense, tenure is a sign of trust and academic achievement. It affords professors academic freedom and a right to due process. Tenured faculty are free to challenge the conventional wisdom of any field, including art, science and politics, without fear of losing their jobs, and colleges cannot fire professors without evidence of incompetency or unprofessional behavior.
“Tenure allows freedom of inquiry, the ability to question the status quo, and that inquiry leads to the advancement of knowledge and cultural understanding,” Dr. Lipscomb said. “It’s the foundation of the higher education system.”
Nationally, no more than a third of college associate professors and professors are tenured. About 30 are tenured at USF Sarasota-Manatee, including the four faculty who will receive tenure officially on Aug. 7 at the start of the academic year. Classes are set to start on Aug. 24.
The four come from varying backgrounds. While Drs. Hunsader and Lipscomb teach education and English, respectively, Dr. Ngo is an assistant professor of criminology and Dr. Mastracchio is an assistant professor of accounting.
“It is now my turn to mentor and support junior faculty so that they too will receive tenure one day,” said Dr. Ngo, who joined USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2008. She said she’s planning a book about evidence-based criminal justice.
Dr. Hunsader, who joined the university in 2006, said: “Although I plan to continue to publish, reaching this landmark in my career affords me the freedom to more fully pursue my interests in administration.”
In addition to attaining tenure, the four faculty received promotions to associate professor starting Aug. 7. Dr. Thomas Becker of the College of Business, who is already tenured, was promoted to full professor starting Aug. 7.
For Dr. Mastracchio, this marks the second time he has received tenure. Joining USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2011, Dr. Mastracchio was awarded tenure in 1995 while at USF Tampa.
Experiencing the honor for a second time, he said he doesn’t expect big changes to his everyday life, though his course load will likely grow.
“There is comfort in knowing that my efforts are acceptable to the university,” he said.