This is a naive question, coming from someone who has never had an academic job. I'm asking what is involved when a junior professor is promoted. My question is wide, since I don't understand academic life. Some answers are obvious, but I'd still like clarification:
Funding. Professors I know seem to be obsessed over funding. They're constantly writing grant applications and are constantly unhappy at how much of a lottery it is. However, since the professors are presumably paid a salary by the university, so what if they fail? It's not like the university will stop paying them, will it? Especially if the professor is tenured.
Does the source of the funding matter? Suppose Alice is a beginning professor. One day Bill Gates calls Alice and says "I'd like to be your PhD student, and I'll give you $1 billion of funding". Will her head of department be delighted? Will Alice immediately be promoted to full professor? Is the idea behind the $1 billion that Alice will now be able to hire an army of postdocs and PhD students (can she actually do this especially if the university doesn't have office space for them?), which will boost the department's research output and therefore improve the university's ranking? If so, does that mean academia is essentially "whoever has more money wins"?
Suppose that Alice had won $1 billion at the sweepstakes instead, and decided to put that money into her work (can she do this?). Does the same scenario as the above play out?
Research output. I imagine this is related to funding - if one has more funding, one can hire more postdocs and PhD students. But at that point, it's the postdocs and PhD students that are doing the research. The professor might have his or her name on plenty of papers, but never as a first author. Presumably, the papers will look good on the postdocs' and PhD students' CV, not so much on the professor's. Is that the case?
Teaching output. Presumably this must count for something or there'd be no reason for departments to have "best teaching" awards. I also imagine that departments will try to spread (mandatory) teaching loads around so everyone teaches roughly the same number of courses. This doesn't include Honours, PhD etc students however, and as far as I can tell different professors have different numbers of PhD students. Is it an advantage to have lots of such students? The obvious answer is "yes", but if so, I don't understand why professors don't just take on students until they hit capacity. They probably have a lot more prospective students than actual ones, especially at big universities, which is why the admission rate can be so low. If this is related to not having funding to pay the students (aren't students expected to pay for their education? This certainly applied at undergraduate level), does this mean that a self-funded student will have no trouble getting admitted even to prestigious universities?
Other ventures. I imagine this must count for something, or I don't see why a professor would agree to serve on a journal's editorial board. It's usually not a paid position, and it's time-consuming. I also see professors do things like start companies and try to sell commercial products. Question: why would the university tolerate this? It means the professor is putting time into something unrelated to the university. My contracts with (non-academic) employers typically have a line "you are expected to devote your full attention to affairs of the company". Does getting involved in these non-university activities help with getting promoted?