Following up on my previous posts on the lawsuit by female law profs against the University of Denver Law School (links below): Chronicle of Higher Education Special Report, A More Upbeat Approach to Post-Tenure Review:
The University of Denver is instituting a program focused not on punitive measures but on helping professors develop their skills.
Most Professors Hate Post-Tenure Review. A Better Approach Might Look Like This.:
Skill development and guidance from colleagues take precedence at the University of Denver.
"Once you’ve got tenure you can antagonize people or bring them in. You can get the most out of them rather than force them to fit a cookie-cutter mold." ...
"Faculty development is not a punishment. The final goal was to make people understand that they couldn’t get tenure and just rest."
The Evolution of a Faculty-Focused Approach:
At the University of Denver, faculty members overcame anger and distrust to hammer out a novel set of post-tenure policies.
[T]here were numerous faculty members who were pushing for post-tenure review in what I viewed as a punitive fashion. Some of them were angry at colleagues that they didn’t perceive as being productive and wanted a way to get rid of them. I thought it was fairly draconian, but it started a conversation.
When I became senate president, the board joined in along the same lines. So I was getting the message from the very top and from fellow faculty. When I talked to the provost, he wanted to help faculty members become more productive, rather than just weed out deadwood. From the very start, there was a philosophy of how can we use this to improve faculty performance and honor the faculty life cycle? ...
[T]he language was transformed from post-tenure review to faculty development. ...
Some faculty were adamant that what we have is a wimpy policy. Another concern is completely the opposite — that anytime you give a tool to administrators, they can abuse it. I do think that could happen, I just don’t think it’s likely. After working with the board members, I would call them enlightened. Some faculty members think, who are they to tell me what I’m supposed to do? I definitely understand that thinking when it comes to your academic discipline, but as a university evolves and careers evolve there needs to be a way to guide people back to the path if they’ve strayed too far.
At key junctions in their careers, professors at the University of Denver are urged to seek advice from more-experienced colleagues. ...
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage: