Is Tenure Important?
Tenure in higher education is no longer an aim but rather an aspirational objective and recompense bestowed after decades of hard work (and a lot of research success).
But, in today’s environment, what does tenure entail, and, more significantly, does it matter?
The answer is almost always yes, although the reason behind this varies depending on who you question.
Academic Freedom is Safeguarded by Tenure.
Too frequently, the importance of tenure for both institutions and employees is regarded in the definition of financing only. However, academic independence is one of the benefits of tenure — and why it counts.
It contradicts the purpose of taking chances and teaching if most college and university faculty are not eligible for tenure.
Staff who are not safeguarded cannot educate in the most meaningful and helpful manner.
There is no space for mistake, reform, or challenge for teaching staff who do not have the protection of tenure or even a multi-year agreement.
Instead, faculty must balance making students satisfied – what that even means – and being in the professional world and contributing to the research and publishing responsibilities even if they are not on the tenure track.
There’s also the question of escalating political unrest. Tenure prevents individuals doing excellent work from becoming captives of politics, as regional, state, and national strategies diverge dramatically from election to election.
Few people have found out how to keep academic freedom when tenure prospects are poor.
New Research is Hurt by Tenure
Tenure encourages young teachers and researchers to work hard and stick to the plan, but it also harms them.
The old guard, who cling to their jobs until death or mandatory retirement age, whoever arrives first, prevents new research from taking root.
Furthermore, tenure causes academics to divide their time, driving talented researchers out of the research lab and into the classroom, and qualified teachers out of the lecture hall and into the research lab, due to a system that prioritizes research money above merit.
Is it Possible to Have a Balanced Tenure?
Tenure has both positive and dire implications. Is there a way to compromise tenure and protection for academic staff?
Some argue that achieving equity in a future without tenure entails safeguarding the non-tenure tracked employees. Multi-year contracts might be phased out for fair compensation, mainly because such incomes are not guaranteed until retirement.
Furthermore, as Bernstein and Kezar stressed out in The Conversation, the option of rethinking the regime to be centered on rewards other than research money may include a pedagogical tenure pathway for people who devote their time to the classroom.
What has been your tenure experience? Is it no longer relevant, or is it more relevant than ever?