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Educators Queering Academia

Critical Memoirs


Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez

The memoirs in this collection represent a cross-section of critical reflections by a queerly diverse set of individuals on their experiences inhabiting a variety of spaces within the field of education. In their stories, the authors share how they queered and are continuing to queer the academy in relation to questions of teaching, research, policy, and/or administration. Their memoirs speak across generations of queer educators and scholars; collectively their work highlights an array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. As snapshots in time, the memoirs can be taken up as archive and studied in order to gain perspective on the issues facing queers in the academy across various intersections of identities related to ethnicity, culture, language, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, (dis)ability, socio-economic status, religion, age, veteran status, health status, and more. By way of the memoirs in this volume, a richer body of queer knowledge is offered that can be pulled from and infused into the academic and personal contexts of the work of educators queering academia.
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Chapter Fifteen: Slam Dunk on Tenure? Not So Fast …


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Slam Dunk on Tenure? Not So Fast …



In the fall of 1996, I started my research career as an assistant professor of education at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University. At first, I was not an out queer professionally, though I had been out for about five years in my personal life. I was delighted to be at Rutgers since, at that time, New Jersey was one of the few states with strong civil rights protections for queer people. As a politics of education scholar and historian, I wanted part of my research agenda to track the politics of queer civil rights as they relate to public education. Once I arrived at Rutgers, I asked a supportive colleague and ally what he thought of this idea, and he was strongly enthusiastic. And so I quickly embraced an avowedly queer research agenda and got on with the business of shaping an academic career.

This reflective chapter maps out my experiences at Rutgers University as an untenured assistant professor of education working in the areas of educational administration and policy. My defining moment came when I was denied tenure in spring 2002. This denial was almost entirely based on one external letter of evaluation, which was later ruled to be strongly homophobic. In this chapter, I discuss the strategies that I and my colleagues used to overturn this decision. I close this...

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