Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thoughts About Tenure (continued)

If tenure was designed with the expectation that it would allow, or even force faculty to take positions that were sometimes contrary to those of the administration, I haven’t found that to be true.  The fear of retaliation by a superior is just as great today as it was before tenure was adopted.  People who will take a stand on an issue seem to me to be ones that will do so regardless of a support system like tenure.  Those who will not take a position on an issue, and that is by far a majority of academics, remain timid and shy even though tenure supposedly protects them.

My conclusion is that tenure does not have the effect of pushing those who have strong feelings against the administration policies to express those differences.  Rather, the effect of tenure makes it nearly impossible for a higher education institution to remove the incompetent and unproductive faculty who prevent the institution from moving forward.

Remember that tenure creates a lifetime employment contract between the university and the professor which in all reality cannot be terminated by the university.


  1. Mr. Rogers,

    Do you advocate eliminating tenure all-together? If tenure doesn't protect faculty members sufficiently for them to feel they can speak their mind perhaps some new form of protection needs to be created to replace tenure?

    And if NSHE institutions eliminated tenure as an option would that not put our schools into a difficult position with regard to recruiting top talent?

  2. You are right about the recruiting problem created by the elimination of tenure but the problem is much broader than that. The public believes that while tenure protects the right of the professor to speak, tenure is being used and abused to perpetuate retaining professors that are not competent. There is a multitude of law that gives all faculty all the protection faculties need. Losing tenure would cost far less in developing a world class university than keeping tenure and insulating the incompetent professors from removal so that competent professors can be hired.
    I do advocate eliminating tenure. I believe it will create credibility for higher education. The lack of credibility caused by tenure will eventually cause the public to withdraw all funding.

  3. When I worked in sales, I loved having a quota. Meeting it or beating it was the best job protection there was.
    I agree with Jim, If a professor "produces" excellent students, then they deserve to keep their jobs and get raises, if not, they should get the boot!