Friday, July 27, 2012

Another Point Of View #5

Here's another point of view about tenure:

Despite the increasing rigor of the tenuring process, it is important to guard against your concern that “Tenure can be and has too often been used to protect incompetent employees.”  In the more research oriented colleges, deadwood rarely occurs.  But, to ensure that UNLV does have productive associate professors, who are on their way to promotion to full professor, and to ensure that full professors continue to be productive members of the community, those annual reviews need to be quite rigorous, including making use of the teeth available via those “two-times-unsatisfactory” reviews.  The central problem in ensuring rigorous annual review standards after tenure lies at the door of the beleaguered department chair, who is in the trenches, in immediate contact with those he or she must evaluate.  In recent years, UNLV has enabled chairs to be more rigorous in annual evaluations by requiring a departmental faculty review, without the chair’s participation, either by a committee of the whole or by some version of a departmental personnel committee, whose report, in writing, is forwarded to the college level along with the chair’s recommendation; in turn, the chair’s recommendation must refer to the departmental recommendation, either endorsing it or disagreeing with it.  Finally, UNLV has recently instituted a required three-year review of associate professor’s progress toward promotion, which, again, encourages growth in teaching and research.  A return to a merit system of rewards for truly excellent performance would be another effective device to encourage continuing excellence in UNLV’s tenured faculty at both the associate and full professor levels.  In sum, in an increasingly divisive political climate, both locally and nationally, tenure is still necessary to protect academic freedom, and eliminating tenure or, alternatively, encouraging a decrease in State funding, is hugely counterproductive in light of the nationally competitive market. 


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