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."

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.


michael morrow said...

I'm not to suer where this fits in but this is one forum I feel to speak through. I can't believe, at least I dont want to believe, that the front page of the uvu website portrait of the our illustrious new president and his lovely wife is captioned with "President Matthew Holland & Family...........WOW how cool is that a wife named "Family." At least they capitalized her name...........a little bit'o respect is better than no respect.
I think this actually speaks volumes for the immature educational and philosophical consciousness of administrators at MY university. Lets all stand and raise our hand to the square and acknowledge that our families are not forever and it's all our "F"ault and a high percentage of our women are named "Family" because they are not worth much more than an upper case "F."

Love this site

michael morrow said...

Woner what communication is...where's it live..and where's it die.....where's it buried, and where's it resurrected
Is ??? a symbol to praise voice's inflected tail-end.....when is a question
all by its-own-self
the Idea of exchanging information, influencing, causing effect through simple vocalization of thought-forms out of sight, specific to another action
building life surrounding oz playing His pipe organ sending out visualization blinded by curtains of which he only sees folds inner side