Friday, March 20, 2015

Tenure Is on Life Support

The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 20th, 2015



Earlier this month, the University of Tennessee system coined the term “de-tenure,” apparently by accident. The system’s president immediately got an earful (on Twitter of all places) that the ability to detenure someone would defeat the very purpose of tenure. Whether or not university officials actually believed that argument, they at least backed off their initial effort to make detenuring a possibility.
Unfortunately, it may be hard to put the detenuring genie back in the bottle. The fact that any university system is willing to even consider detenuring as an option demonstrates just how much damage has already been done to this vitally important academic principle. Tenure may not be dead, but it has been on life support for some time now. The patient remains well worth treating despite the high costs of intensive care, but to act as if the University of Tennessee’s shortsighted cost-cutting measures were the only threat that tenure faces would be disastrous.

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