Tenure: on its face, not the loveliest of words. But there are few as sweet in the ears of an early-career academic. Tenure signifies job security, the acceptance of one's senior colleagues, a feeling of belonging and - perhaps most importantly - support for a life's work.

But while tenure is an obvious watershed in a young professor's life, it is also an important moment in the life of the community that awards it. Those receiving tenure stop being seen as academic gypsies - transients who'll disappear soon on their way to another term position in another place - and begin to become institutions.

Inevitably, they will change the character of their departments and their colleges, as well as influencing the generations of students who will come through the doors to their classrooms and offices in the years to come. This is especially true in a small, close-knit community like Grinnell, and in recognition of this fact, we thought we'd take a closer look at the latest group - two women and two men; three in the English department and one in the Spanish department - who've been invited to sink roots here.

These professors are:

Originally published as a web extra for The Grinnell Magazine, Summer 2007

Mark Baechtel

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