I’m posting briefly here to direct you to this discussion of the tenure debate at Inside Higher Ed featuring Tenured Radical, which also mentions Lumpenprofessoriat‘s rebuttal and Slaves of Academe‘s discussion of tenure as hazing. (The article totally neglects the brilliantly informed disucssions of this subject at Historiann, and Professor Zero‘s ongoing meditations on the topic of tenure, however! Shocking!) I love this quote from the Radical about why transparency is so threatening to the tenure regime: “A private institution is like an allegory for the WASP family when it comes to talking about tenure — it’s like you’re not supposed to say that Mommy’s drinking. Whatever happens, the real crime is talking about it.” I think it works pretty much the same way in public institutions too, but that quote struck me because I used to have a tenure-track job at a private university, and I regularly compared my department to an alcoholic family, where I was cast as the “bad daughter” for talking about and questioning the abuse.
Stay tuned–Prof. Zero and I may be cooking up a Modest Proposal for tenure reform.
RED ALERT UPDATE, 4/1/08: Click here to read about the insanity at Baylor, where administrators have applied new tenure standards that were apparently pulled out of their a**es after this year’s tenure candidates submitted their dossiers! And guess what, boys and girls? The 40% rejection rate this year worked disproportionately to disadvantage female tenure candidates–six of the nine women up for tenure were denied. Surprise! My favorite part of the article is where President of the Faculty Senate Matt Cordon suggests that he’s worried that this will hurt faculty recruiting, a worthy point, especially considering that you’ve already got to recruit people to WACO, TEXAS! Come on, people–you’ve already got a weak hand to play. Abusing people and denying them tenure is bad enough, but the ones you “reward” with tenure have to live in Waco, Texas.