Thursday, June 21, 2018
Chronicle of Higher Education, Frustrated Faculty Struggle to Defend Tenure Before It’s Too Late:
[T]he argument that tenure is the essential protection faculty members need to do their jobs is one that an increasing number of professors have felt compelled to make — and almost always to less-than-receptive audiences. In an era where skepticism about higher education runs high and anti-intellectualism thrives in the political discourse, the concept of tenure fuels perceptions that professors are a protected class isolated from the rigors of the real world.
Critics of tenure assert that it’s an antiquated protection, one that can mask, even enable, flagging faculty productivity and that, by default, hinders institutional advancement. Tight budgets make matters worse. Tenure limits flexibility in personnel expenses by locking in the full-time positions that institutions have increasingly cast off to instead hire adjunct faculty who are paid far less than their tenured counterparts. ...
In recent years, lawmakers or college governing boards have altered professors’ expectations of what tenure means at public institutions in places like [Tennessee,] Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Kentucky. And top administrators at many colleges have supported tougher post-tenure review polices, like the one approved in late March in Tennessee, that faculty worry will begin to weaken tenure’s protections. Tenure is already something that most of the professoriate can’t count on; only about 30 percent of professors are employed with tenure or are on track to earn it.