Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eliminating Tenure?

Yesterday, faculty and staff went out for tapas and wine.  We had a lovely time and even managed to speak of things other than work.  On the ride home, I was feeling very positive about my job and my work environment.

Then I got home and read yet another NYT article suggesting the elimination of tenure, and my outlook took a decided turn south.  Frankly, academia is much less attractive without tenure.  And I'd need to get paid a lot more to do it in order to make up for lack of job security.

My first faculty job was in a small liberal arts college that did not have tenure.  I left after a year, largely because of that.  I might well have stayed otherwise, as it was in a lovely place.

This points to a problem that those advocating to eliminate tenure haven't discussed much.  Tenure wouldn't be eliminated all at once everywhere.  So the better or more marketable would flee to those institutions still granting tenure.  The newly nontenured institutions would take a big hit--one that I'm hoping the public R1 universities, at least, wouldn't be willing to risk.  But anyone concerned about the apparent growing division between public and private universities might do well to consider this (assuming the public universities strapped for cash would be first to move toward tenure elimination).

Another scenario would be a gradual elimination of tenure, which I believe is already occurring.

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