Illinois State Universitys AAUP
WHITE PAPER #1 TENURE
Serving the ISU community through information concerning the AAUPs positions
on issues of vital concern to the university.
What is tenure and what is its purpose?
Tenure is defined in the AAUPs "1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure (With 1970 Interpretive Comments)" as follows: "After the expiration of a probationary period, teachers or investigators would have permanent or continuous tenure, and their service should be terminated only for adequate cause, except in the case of retirement for age, or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies." According to the AAUP, "Tenure is a means to certain ends; specifically: (1) freedom of teaching and research and of extramural activities, and (2) a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive to men and women of ability. The AAUP 1940 Statement further asserts that "[I]nstitutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition."
What is the status of tenure nation-wide?
More and more colleges and universities around the country are hiring professors on term contracts instead of the tenure track. Some observers of this trend have called it a "silent killer" of the tenure system. According to data from the AAUP, the proportion of full-time professors working on contracts rose from 19 percent in 1975 to 28 percent in 1995, while the proportion of those on the tenure track fell from 29 percent to 20 percent. Part-timers now make up an estimated 42 percent of instructors in U.S. colleges and universities. 52 percent of full-time professors on campuses nationwide held tenure in 1995. At least 40 institutions around the country (including Bennington, Bradford, Hampshire, Florida Gulf Coast University, the Arizona International Campus of the University of the University of Arizona, Evergreen State College, and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin) hire professors only on annual or multi-year contracts. Westark College in Arkansas decided this year that, although it wont fire any of its tenured professors, it wont hire any new ones. [Chronicle of Higher Education, June 12, 1998.] The American Association for Higher Education has commissioned a series of position papers that proclaim the advantages of "other pathways"i.e., outside of tenureto college and university careers. [See "Faculty Roles and Rewards,"http://www.aahe.org/pubs/publist3.htm#ffrr]. The Pew Charitable Trusts has funded a three-year project "to study alternatives to and modifications of traditional tenure systems." [See also Wendy Wassyng Roworth, "Why Is Tenure Being Targeted For Attack?" http://www.igc.apc.org/aaup/fnrgwart.htm.]
Why is tenure being attacked?
" [O]pponents [of tenure] have based their arguments primarily upon economic
and managerial assumptions . . . [that] find academic tenure unsound because it removes the impetus for competition from too many faculty, because it substitutes the ideal of security for the reality of market forces as a basis for faculty employment, and because it involves individual, autonomous employees in making decisions that should be retained by a centralized management for flexibility and efficiency." [Mary Burgan, "Tenure and the Management of Higher Education,"http://www.igc.apc.org/aaup/fnmbart.htm]
Why do we need tenure?
"This spirit of academic freedom within the university has a value which goes beyond protecting the individual's broad scope of thought and inquiry. . . . If a university is alive and productive, it is a place where colleagues are in constant dispute; defending their latest intellectual enthusiasm, attacking the contrary views of others. From this trial by combat emerges a sharper insight, later to be blunted by other, sharper minds. It is vital that this contest be uninhibited by fear of reprisal. . . ". ["On Tenure," AAUP Bulletin," Winter 1972, (Vol. 58, No. 4) pp. 382-3.]
"The argument is being made that we no longer need tenure because our speech in the classroom is protected by the First Amendment. Perhaps, but I remain a skeptic. The First Amendment forbids the state to infringe upon free-speech rights. Thus it reaches state colleges and universities, but not private institutions like the College of Wooster, where I teach biology. Further, many activities that academic freedom covers may not fall into the legal category of speech. Curriculum design, textbook selection, syllabus preparation, and grading are everyday faculty activities that the courts may not equate with speech." [James E. Perley, president of the AAUP, "Tenure Remains Vital to Academic Freedom." Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 1997.]
"Most colleges cant attract the topnotch professors without tenure." (John B. Duff, president of Columbia College Chicago, which recently adopted a tenure system. Chronicle of Higher Education, October 23, 1998).
"[T]enured professors can offer an effective counterbalance to administrative power. And they have the time and institutional loyalty necessary for such duties as revising the curriculum, recruiting faculty members and students, and doing long-term planning." [Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Chronicle of Higher Education, November 14, 1997.]
What is "post-tenure review"?
According to the AAUP: "Post-tenure review is a system of periodic evaluation that goes beyond the many traditional forms of continuous evaluation utilized in most colleges and universities. . . . What post-tenure review typically adds to these longstanding practices is a formalized additional layer of review which, if it is not simply redundant, may differ in a number of respects: the frequency and comprehensiveness of the review, the degree of involvement by faculty peers, the use of self-evaluations and the articulation of performance objectives, the extent of constructive feedback, the application of innovative standards and principles, and the magnitude of potential sanctions. At its most draconian, post-tenure review aims to reopen the question of tenure; at its most benign, it formalizes and systematizes longstanding practices. In this report, we use the term post-tenure review to refer to the variety of practices that superimpose a more comprehensive and systematic structure on existing processes of evaluation of tenured faculty." (See http://www.igc.apc.org/aaup/postten.htm.)
What is AAUPs position on post-tenure review?
See report "Post-Tenure Review: AN AAUP Response," approved by the Association's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, adopted by the Association's Council in June 1998, and endorsed by the Eighty-fourth Annual Meeting. (Seehttp://www.igc.apc.org/aaup/postten.htm.)