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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Michigan Extends Tenure Clock to Ten Years

Michigan Logo Inside Higher Ed, 10 Years to Tenure at Michigan:

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.

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It's interesting that faculty would oppose this. A six- or seven-year clock is plainly disadvantageous for men and (especially) women who have family responsibilities. So why be opposed to this?

Posted by: mike livingston | Apr 26, 2011 2:57:07 AM

If one who does not gain tenure wishes to return to practice, after ten years I imagine that lawyering skills will be somewhat stale and there is not likely to be the same reception that one would find five years out of the legal profession.

Posted by: Bill | Apr 26, 2011 10:05:59 AM

This is GOOD news. A ten-year MINIMUM would be depressing, but a potentially longer track, as Mike points out, is desirable for people whose outside responsibilities mean they cannot write for fun in their "spare" time.

Posted by: Donna Byrne | Apr 26, 2011 10:07:01 AM