If we're talking about really radical critics (most recently, for instance, Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado), I guess I would agree. But that's not the end of the story. The fact that BYU, my former employer, did not fire me over the 11 years during which I was a more and more outspoken critic, I attribute entirely to the fact that I had tenure. And in my work with the American Association of University Professor over two decades, most of it having to do with challenging administrative decisions that failed to provide due process or to share governance with faculty members, having tenure always put us on more firm footing vis a vis the administrator, serving as a lever in our negotiations, reminding the "administration" that their position at a university is only one of several, and certainly not the most important or essential one.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Tenure and Academic Freedom
One of the comments on my post about ending the university as we know it, written by an old friend who is an academic librarian in South Carolina, brushes past my glib assumption that ending tenure is a silly idea and argues that tenure isn't necessary, that it lulls professors into early retirement, that a competitive market would be more productive, and that "historically it's done a lousy job of protecting radically outspoken critics from within the academy."