Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kyle Graham Announces He Does Not Want Tenure at Santa Clara Law School: 'I Don't Want To Be That Guy'

Kyle F. Graham has announced that he will not seek tenure from Santa Clara Law School:

So, I decided a while back that I didn’t want to apply for tenure, and advised the administration and (more recently) the faculty at Santa Clara Law of my decision. I reached this conclusion after conducting an inventory of my strengths and weaknesses. Pursuant to this census, I determined that, assuming I remain in academia, I’d probably be a better teacher and scholar without the cushion that tenure provides.

I was worried that my colleagues on the Santa Clara faculty would — to use a scientific term — freak out at my decision. So far, that hasn’t been the case. To the extent I have spoken with other faculty members on the topic, they generally have responded with characteristic equanimity. I suspect that most of them pegged me as an odd duck long  ago (in hindsight, my commissioning of Scalia and Ginsburg puppets probably represented the tipping point), and believe that, by a milligram, my positives outweigh my quirks. ...

I am 40 years old. I can’t predict the person I will be 20 years from now. I just know that while I’m something of a self-starter, I have tended to perform better when I have internalized at least some outside pressure to work hard.  I don’t want to be that guy — the professor who gets tenure, and then sits on his hands and reads straight from the casebook in class. I don’t think I’d be that person even with tenure. But why take chances? And although a professor without tenure is more likely to get dismissed than one with tenured status, that’s OK, too. I see it as my job, going forward, to perform well enough to make certain that doesn’t happen. If it does, well, I’ve still got my bar card, and being a park ranger wasn’t so bad, either.

(Hat Tip: Orin Kerr.)

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Kudos for confidence. I did the same thing. Twelve years without tenure so far. My tenure is that I'm good at what I do, and I write incessantly. If law schools don't want me after what I have and plan to produce, I'll just have to get used to not having librarians and research assistants at my disposal.

Posted by: SmittyBanton | Oct 7, 2014 9:30:33 AM

Kyle Graham: "I don't want to be that guy."

Don't worry, Kyle: we all know who "that guy" is at Santa Clara.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 7, 2014 8:06:19 AM

He may regret that decision, when, in spite of him being the best teacher around, he is dismissed because SCLS is forced to make cutbacks and cannot eliminate good or bad tenured faculty, so they turn on the non-tenured.

Posted by: len fuld | Oct 7, 2014 6:52:14 AM

Is skipping tenure an option at law schools? In the accounting PhD world, we, sadly, do not have this option. It is up or out.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Oct 7, 2014 6:41:53 AM