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Why We Need Tenure

I’ve been discussing what a university professor does with his or her time, and have devoted a couple of posts to the question of what it takes to receive tenure.  In doing so I  have indicated that tenure is a guarantee of life-long employment by the academic institution, barring such extraordinary circumstances as moral turpitude on the part of the professor (it happens!) and financial exigency of the institution (it too, alas, happens). I should say as well, though, that once one receives tenure it is no pure boondoggle for the rest of one’s life.  At UNC, at least, we have a mandatory “Post-tenure Review” process every five years, where we who have tenure have to explain in writing what we have been doing in our teaching, research, and service since the previous review.  If performance is not satisfactory, a plan of remedial action is implemented, and if things go from bad to worse, disciplinary actions can be implemented.   But for most of us, we’re working our tails off all the time anyway, so there’s [...]

2020-04-03T16:33:24-04:00September 18th, 2014|Reflections and Ruminations, Teaching Christianity|

What Counts for Tenure?

I have one more post to make on this thread, which has taken me off onto a tangent, away from early Christianity per se and onto what it means to be a university professor at a research institution such as UNC.  That other post – hopefully tomorrow – will be about why tenure is absolutely essential for this kind of job, even if it is highly unusual anywhere else (unheard of, of course, in the business world).  But before then, I want to say one other thing about the tenure process, something that would not occur to most people and that in fact will be both surprising and, possibly, counter-intuitive.  It has to do with what “counts” as research. Virtually every school on the planet will tell its assistant professors that there are three factors considered in evaluating a case for tenure:  research, teaching, and service.   The balance of those three factors, though, differs significantly from one school to another.  Some schools focus almost exclusively on teaching, so that research is not that big of [...]

2020-04-03T16:33:34-04:00September 17th, 2014|Reflections and Ruminations, Teaching Christianity|

The Academic Tenure Situation

In my previous post I discussed what a professor at a research university does with his or her time.   I did not go into detail about a lot of the really time consuming obligations, which I may at some point devote a post to.   For now I want to deal with one other thing that I mentioned in yesterday’s post:  the question of tenure.   Most people in the rest of the working world have trouble getting their mind around what university tenure is all about.   You mean they guarantee you a job for life?  They can’t fire you?  Really??? Yes, pretty much really.   With some provisos. The tenure system has come under fire in recent years by those outside the system who think that it is a disaster and a bit of a joke.   It is sometimes thought or said that that once a professor has tenure, there is no incentive for him or her to do much of anything: they have a job -- permantently!  And that, it is said, is a recipe for [...]

2020-04-03T16:33:43-04:00September 16th, 2014|Reflections and Ruminations, Teaching Christianity|
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