Tenure: Doomed?

My home state of Kentucky is considering ending tenure for its entire community college system. This news prompted Mark Bauerlein (professor of English at Emory and regular blogger at the Chronicle of Higher Education) to ask “Is Tenure Doomed?” at MindingTheCampus.com. As he notes,

[A]ccording to a recent report by the American Federation of Teachers, “contingent faculty members teach 49 percent” all undergraduate courses (Reversing Course: The Troubled State of Academic Staffing and a Path Forward, i). The proportion doesn’t include graduate student teachers, either, those doctoral candidates picking up courses as part of their training, which AFT estimates at 16-32 percent of the courses offered.

It’s an interesting essay. Among other things, he notes that:

Tenure is supposed to protect against-the-grain thinking so long as it observes academic norms, but after five years of graduate training, a year or two as post-doc or adjunct, then six years as an assistant professor, individuals fortunate enough to win tenure have other ambitions than challenging reigning ideas and practices.

At the ESN National Gathering at Following Christ, we’re going to host a panel discussion on “Preparing for Tenure,” with Ken Elzinga (tenured faculty at U Virginia), Christy Moran (tenure-track faculty at Kansas State and specialist in higher education issues), and InterVarsity President (and former business school dean) Alec Hill. It’s a challenging future for ESN members who want to pursue tenure-track positions, and we want to help you.

Do you have any questions for our panel? Even if you won’t be at the ESN Day Ahead, we’re planning on posting the sessions online in 2009. If you have questions about tenure and preparing for tenure for our panel, post them in the comments.

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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One Comment

  • dwsnoke@comcast.net'
    Dave Snoke commented on May 16, 2009 Reply

    If tenure were ended, the immediate impact would be that conservative and evangelical professors would be the first to get the boot. Other professors could vote them out if they say anything out of line, and evangelicals are very much in the minority in academia. Be careful what you wish for!

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