Community-Engaged Scholarship and Promotion and Tenure: Lessons from Lynton Award Recipients


  • Elaine Ward Merrimack College



community-engaged scholarship, promotion and tenure, Ernest A. Lynton


In 2008, for my dissertation research, I interviewed 11 faculty members who received the Ernest Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement to examine their experiences with promotion and tenure.  There were 3 assistant professors, 1 associate professor, and 7 full professors.  All faculty members were female and represented 8 4-year public institutions (4 RU/VH, 2 Master’s and 2 Doctoral Granting Universities) and 3 4-year private institutions (2 Bac/A&S and 1 RU/VH).  They represented the humanities (8) and the sciences (3).   Through qualitative, semi-structured, opened ended interviews I aimed to understand their experiences with engaged scholarship in the context of promotion and tenure.

Many community-engaged scholars fight to receive the internal validation that Ernest advocated for with Amy Driscoll via Making Outreach Visible: A Guide to Documenting Professional Service and Outreach (1999). Ernest might be somewhat content to know that the award in his name provides external validation that helps legitimize their scholarship at their home institution. I say ‘somewhat content’, because it is clear that Ernest had greater expectations for institutions to value the work of engaged faculty.  Amy Driscoll has helped advance Ernest’s vision through her leadership of the collaborative process of that produced the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement (2008), and its requirement that applicants must show how they address promotion of community engaged scholarship formally via personnel policy i.e. faculty handbooks and contracts.  While we find more and more evidence of rewards that value community-engaged scholarship, there is still work to be done to reach broad and consistent equivalence of recognition and rewards across all faculty roles.