This is the first in an ongoing series of profiles of faculty members who have recently achieved tenure and/or promotion. These profiles are intended to provide illustrations of how some faculty reach that goal.
Clare V. Bell, an associate professor in the division of Curriculum and Instructional Leadership in the School of Education, has been on the UMKC faculty for six years. She knew the criteria for promotion and tenure, and aligned her scholarship, teaching, and service to qualify.
“I knew coming in that I would have to demonstrate high quality work,” Bell said. “I needed to keep the research going; always improve teaching and learning with students; and expand service to local, regional, national, and international levels.”
She maintained longstanding research relationships with colleagues at the Ohio State University and the University of Florida, while collaborating with faculty at UMKC. She studied, wrote and published work on these multiple research projects, and continued to pursue research interests of her own.
“Because of my K-12 education and teacher education background, I knew the value of being a reflective practitioner. I am continually working to improve the quality of my courses and interactions with UMKC students so that our future teachers will also be reflective practitioners who are effective in teaching and learning mathematics with their students,” Bell said.
In addition to unit level committees, Bell sought out service opportunities at the community and national levels. Meeting and talking with officers of national organizations opened doors for service opportunities. Similarly, she made her services available to journal editors in need of manuscript reviewers. This work had the added benefit of exposing Bell to a wide range of writing styles and research ideas that proved useful in her own writing for publication.
Bell had some good advice to others seeking to advance in their careers.
“These are challenging times. Find ways to fit your special interests into the work you do for promotion and tenure and you’re more likely to enjoy the ride. Keep doing quality work, even if others do not immediately recognize your accomplishments. You won’t necessarily produce a tidy number of publications each year.
“And take feedback on teaching seriously, but not overly so. Students vary in the ways that they are receptive to learning about changes in mathematics pedagogical practices and inquiry learning. My teaching evaluation scores fluctuated, but improvement trends could be seen over the years.
“In terms of service, it takes time to become established as a knowledgeable professional, particularly for me because the move to ‘the academy’ also came with a geographical move. The moral of this story is that scholars must be patient with their own development and with others’ recognition of their work: If you know you are doing good quality work, keep doing it.”