Friday, July 13, 2012

An Opposing View On The Value Of Tenure #5

If tenure is supposed to ensure that only competent, actively engaged professors maintain their positions and if tenure is supposed to embolden faculty to speak truth to power, why do critics complain that NSHE has too many faculty who resist innovation and who are too timid to challenge the status quo?  The answer isn’t that there is something wrong with tenure; actually, real enforcement of the rules associated with tenure would fix these two problems.  In other words, we need more emphasis on tenure, not less.  If there are incompetent professors, it’s not because of tenure, it’s because administrators are not held accountable for following NSHE Code or abiding by institutional Evaluation Policies.  If faculty are timid and unwilling to speak up, it’s because those who do aren’t protected by tenure.  Dissenters are punished and made an example for others.  When people who dissent are summarily removed from leadership positions; have their workload denied and classes cancelled; and find themselves blackballed from serving on shared governance committees others learn that in NSHE tenure often doesn’t matter.  But how did things get this way and how do we stop this from continuing?  In NSHE Code administrators are given discretion to set aside policies, procedures, and Code; there is supposed to be oversight and accountability, but usually it ends up being a “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”  Under these circumstances tenure provides none of the protections that produce desirable results and faculty are left at the mercy of insulated administrators who sidestep the mechanisms that would fix the problem NSEH currently faces.  Again, is the answer to Nevada’s Higher Education System’s problems getting rid of tenure?  No, the answer is to get rid of administrative discretion, hold administrators accountable for doing their jobs, and to strengthen tenure so that more faculty will feel safe enough to speak truth to power.

1 comment:

  1. Gee I wonder why faculty is timid and isn't speaking out? When you see a stack of graduate students replacing you for a lower price - forced like slaves to teach before they are ready while they should be focusing on completing their own studies. You know what happens when you threaten and scare people - one of two things - they start to fight or they start to hide. It is hard to "inspire" good people to do their best work when they are scared scared scared. Too much bullying and not enough supporting. Not everyone operates best when abused - in fact few do. Keep it up and the last of the smart people will leave the state and we can be dumbed down like other states that have done this to their education professional. We are experiencing severe brain drain.