23 March 2011

What have you done lately that needed tenure?

Not having tenure can turn many academics into cowards. They are actively advised to keep their heads down, not make waves... until they get tenure.

Which raises the question:

Once you get tenure, do you make waves?

There are a lot of people who would abolish tenure in a heartbeat. It would be easier to get rid of ineffective teachers and researchers, the argument goes.

If you are an academic who thinks that tenure is important in protecting against capricious firings and retributions, and that tenure is important in allowing faculty to make long-term plans... have you used your tenure lately?

Have you taken an unpopular position? Took the lead on a cause to make something better?

Have you started a project that needs more security that recurring one-year contracts?

Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.


KBHC said...

YES. Thanks for writing this, Zen. Without the people who have tenure actually using that protection to do something, those of us without it have little to look up to, or look forward to. Plus, I take a lot of risks that I have been advised against, as someone who doesn't yet have tenure. It would be nice to see my senior colleagues sticking their necks out as least as much as I do!

neuromusic said...

As a grad student, I find that most discussion of tenure has little to do with the academic freedoms it affords and more to do with the job security it provides. Watching PIs at my institution, I feel like funding is the limiting factor in pursuing risk... not institutional job security.

Walton said...

Sometimes it just seems to turn people into monumental pricks.

Although, that doesn't mean I don't want it...