Standing in line at Party City with her mom, Elon University professor of finance Margarita Kaprielyan received a call from the Dean of the Martha & Spencer Love School of Business to let her know she had received tenure and been promoted to associate professor — giving her a permanent position at Elon.
Her mom, who was visiting from Florida, cried as the two of them stood in the balloon aisle.
“I always looked up to her and always looked to her for career advice,” Kaprielyan said. “For her to watch me get this accolade, it was just amazing. She was crying, it was in a Party City, which was a little odd. It was an incredible moment because she gave up a lot in her life to bring me up and to make sure that I had all of the opportunities that I had to flourish academically.”
Elon announced granted tenure for 16 faculty members Feb. 24. According to Elon’s faculty handbook, its goal each year is to have 85 to 90% of faculty tenured. As of the 2021-22 academic year, just under 50% of faculty were tenured — with another roughly 22% being on track for tenure.
According to spokesperson Owen Covington, the 85 to 90% represents a high goal they aim to achieve. The tenure track is confidential, but typically the Board of Trustees reviews 15 to 25 faculty members each year. To receive tenure, a person must first apply and submit a portfolio by September of that year.
“Elon is committed to supporting world-class faculty members who can leverage their knowledge and expertise to support student success,” Covington wrote in a statement to Elon News Network. “Sometimes that means hiring a full-time faculty member with a terminal degree in a tenure-track position. Sometimes that means hiring a full-time faculty member with extensive professional experience. Elon’s levels of faculty with terminal degrees and tenured or tenure-track faculty are on par with its peer colleges and universities.”
There are different tracks of how long it takes to receive tenure — either four, five or six years. A faculty member with no prior full-time teaching experience will typically run on a six-year track, whereas a faculty member with one or more years will run on a four to five-year track. If a person does not receive tenure, they may be given one more year at the university, but it is not guaranteed. For Kaprielyan, receiving tenure after five years gives her reassurance.
“When I got this news, it was just that strong feeling of, ‘OK, what you're doing is the right thing and you should continue developing along that path,’” Kaprielyan said. “I'm really excited looking to the future and continuing doin the things that I’ve been doing and just growing along that path.”
Kaprielyan said her mom, an entrepreneur, was her professional role model growing up. Kaprielyan studied at Florida Atlantic University for all three of her degrees: her undergraduate, her Master’s and her PhD in finance. She met her husband on this journey, who also works at Elon. Together, they have a 1-year-old son.
Professor of English Jennifer Eidum received the same promotion as Kaprielyan. Eidum’s collegiate journey began as a first-generation college student. She then continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and a PhD in English language and rhetoric. To her, receiving this honor in higher education meant a lot.
“I don't know of a single other person on my mom's or dad's side of the family that has a PhD,” Eidum said. “Figuring out how to get a job, figuring out what to do in that job, figuring out how to do research — how to write for research — has been something that I have done by myself. Finding the mentors, finding the peers, finding the friends, finding the support network is something that I have worked hard on. And I'm very proud of myself.”
Eidum was eligible for tenure in fall 2020, but did not receive it then due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, she had a daughter and co-edited a book, “The Faculty Factor.” The book focuses on faculty engagement in living-learning communities at universities. Eidum said Elon has been a great place for her academic interests to flourish.
Outside of teaching finance courses, Kaprielyan also mentors students in research around her expertise, including real estate, finance and investments. Preparing to apply for tenure gave her time to reflect on her five years at Elon.
“That was an amazing journey to see what I have done. It allowed me to review everything that I have done and the path that I have carved out and really think about what I wanna do in the future and what I want to continue,” Kaprielyan said. “That was a very laborious journey, but at the same time, I think it's a very productive one in a sense it really sets you up for the future.”