Monday, June 25, 2012

Can tenure survive ... again?

Apparently, we must be on ALEC's hit-list as yet another "Should tenure be abolished"? article has appeared, this time in the Wall Street Journal.

Flava from the "Readers comment" (which was appended to the article itself, along with the usual comment blog free-for-all).


Of course. The concept is akin to a lifetime contract of employment, fictional everywhere but in academia. It subjects students to instructors who cease taking education seriously and are virtually impossible to discipline or remove.

—Mark Carter

I have three degrees from three different universities. Yet one thing remained the same—the tenured faculty performed much more poorly.

—Susan Strayer

As senior faculty at a major university with tenure for most of my career, I fully support the idea that tenure should be abolished. It serves only the lazy and incompetent. I refused tenure in my new post, and cheerfully suggested if I was ever not doing my job well, I should be sacked. Eight years later, I still have a job. So would anyone committed to the purpose of higher education.

—John Gwin


Without tenure, most would be afraid to risk innovation and failure, which is the stuff great discoveries are made of. It took Jonas Salk five years to perfect the polio vaccine. Should he have been denied tenure every time a research trial failed?

—Jill Rooney

No, academia is not the corporate world where you have to become your boss's lapdog to keep your job. Professors should be allowed to conduct research on any topic without worrying about losing their job.

—William Harry

Sure, there are people with tenure who are blights. There are also people who get corporate jobs in the allegedly competitive private sector and keep them for years who are no better. There are bugs in every system.


Teaching anything that challenges students to work harder, or transforms views they hold when they arrive, tends to generate lower "customer satisfaction" scores. Without tenure, the most entertaining professors who simply confirm students in their pre-existing beliefs would be the most secure in their employment. The whole of academia would be geared to producing a swarm of uncritical self-satisfied graduates who leave college with little more than they went in with.



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