Friday, September 18, 2015

Questions With an Agenda on Tenure?

Inside Higher Ed
September 18th, 2015

Tenure is a touchy subject right now within the University of Wisconsin System, given the new limitations placed on the concept this summer by the state’s conservative-dominated Legislature. So a survey that arrived in faculty members’ inboxes earlier this week, asking for their opinions on tenure, drew immediate interest and participation. Sure, the survey asked some provocative questions, such as how much of a pay raise faculty members would need to give up tenure in exchange for multiyear contracts. But the survey had the imprimatur of a prestigious research institution, the University of Chicago, and a well-known political scientist was running the project. Plus, some faculty members welcomed the opportunity to vent about the ongoing challenges to tenure.
But then they got curious, if not suspicious. Just why was William Howell, the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at Chicago, interested in their views on tenure, and how would he use the data? How did he get all their email addresses? And who was funding the study, since that information was not provided either in the email or the survey itself?

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