Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tenure... Whose idea...

Well, well, well,... who wouldn't like to have tenure?! What a great idea to ensure academic freedom. What would would most of us do if we had a job that we couldn't get fired from as long as we showed up? It is amazing how most academics go to work every day taking their responsibilities very serious. Maybe because they love what they do...

Have you ever met someone who give unsolicited advice wholeheartedly? Maybe a neighbor who knows exactly how YOUR yard should look or how to raise YOUR children? And even though that neighbor raised children 30 years ago they keep telling you how to raise yours... Well, you are free to take this neighbor's advice or leave it. This is not so easy i other areas of life. What does one do with well meaning senior faculty who do not have a good understanding of modern teaching and research? As a matter of fact they may have gotten tenure on one or two peer reviewed papers... if any. Times change and universities are a lot more competitive than they used to be. Fair enough! Nevertheless, at least acknowledge that fact! At least acknowledge that you are not up on teaching research. Acknowledge that junior faculty works more than humanly reasonable. Because they do. Acknowledge that you haven't read your own teaching evaluations because they are abusive.

What is the due process for junior faculty? None. Really! Except to acknowledge that life is just not fair. You want a career in academia? Think twice! First you will be a slave to your graduate advisor, then a slave to your postdoc advisor, then a slave to senior faculty, only to be a well trained slave master in the end.

Having written the lines above, I have to say that it really is amazing how well academia functions without due process...without any oversight...with tenured professors ruling over their own universes (and most of them do an amazing job)... Could the academic world be better? more equitable? more considerate? better performing without academics stumbling all over each other? Sure.

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