Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Professors at the University of Michigan could face a possible wait of up to 10 years for tenure thanks to a new policy adopted Thursday by its Board of Regents -- over the objections of faculty.
The change to a university bylaw, as Michigan administrators are quick to point out, is not mandated. It gives schools and colleges at Michigan's campuses the option to extend the maximum allowable pre-tenure probationary period (including the terminal year) by two years, from the current maximum of 8 years to 10. In practice, each college and school sets its own policy through its governing faculty body, and this would not change. For example, in Ann Arbor, while the law school currently has a five-year probationary period, 13 other schools and colleges set a six-year period; five maintain a seven-year period.
The regents’ vote Thursday came as a blow to many faculty members in Ann Arbor, whose governing body, the Senate Assembly, in January voted nearly unanimously, 54-1, against the plan. ...
Another reason for the change ... relates to the changing demographics of the professoriate. The growth in two-career and single-parent households -- coupled with longer postgraduate training periods -- has strained junior faculty who are trying to juggle personal and professional obligations. For many, the tenure clock and the biological clock tend to sound their alarms at the same time, forcing some to feel they have to choose between advancing in a career and starting a family.