Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Multiple Ways to Salvation: Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments

.... an article reposted verbatim from the AAUP Newsletter but with selected passages highlighted for emphasis. Comments invited, may be posted anonymously or under pseudonym. Trolls must stay under the bridge and will not be fed. 

Personally, I can't help being curious about the identity and specific affiliations of these unnamed administrators supporting tenure. What is the distribution of opinion across kinds of higher ed institutions as well as public/ private and non-profit / for-profit divides? Will all adjuncts get some kind of tenure? Will only the tenured teach? If not across the board, then where? What will happen to the rest? If institutions are unwilling to come on board, what means are available to "persuade" them to reconsider?  

How do you think think AAUP's take on tenure conundrum compare's to our own Program for Change? Is there a middle way? Ways? And then there is implementation. So far, no group advocating this level of change (whether similar or antithetical) has the authority to "make it so."

But most important ~ we now have a discussion. Let's keep it going and as open as possible. May the disgruntled speak out instead of whispering behind the scenes. If everyone, in the name of delicacy or whatever, waits for each stake holding group to reach a consensus, I may already have expired from age related infirmities and impatience.... and probably won't be the only one. 

 The AAUP's latest report discusses a growing consensus: Institutions that employ teaching-intensive faculty should hire them and evaluate their teaching through the rigorous system of peer review known as the tenure system. As E. Gordon Gee, the United States's highest-paid university president puts it, campus employers must preserve "multiple ways to salvation" inside the tenure system—even at research-intensive institutions.

As the report notes, tenure was designed as a "big tent" to unite faculty of diverse interests and workplace priorities. It was not designed as a merit badge for research-intensive faculty or as a fence to exclude those with teaching-intensive commitments.
Before 1970, as today, most full-time faculty appointments were teaching-intensive. Nearly all full-time teaching-intensive positions were on the tenure track. Most faculty who spent most of their time teaching were also campus and professional citizens—with clear roles in shared governance and access to support for research or professional activity.

Today, campus employers have shunted the majority of teaching-intensive positions outside of the tenure system. This has in most cases meant a dramatic shift from "teaching-intensive" appointments to "teaching-only" appointments, featuring a faculty with attenuated relationships to campus and disciplinary peers.

This seismic shift from "teaching-intensive" faculty within the big tent of tenure to "teaching-only" faculty outside of it has a direct impact on student retention and achievement, as a growing body of evidence clearly demonstrates.

The central question we have to face in connection with this historic change is clear: Should more classroom teaching be done by faculty supported by the rigorous peer scrutiny of the tenure system? Most of the evidence says yes, and a host of diverse voices agree. This view brings together students, faculty, and legislators; the AAUP; and even many administrators.

In opposition to this trend, campuses across the country have taken bold steps to stabilize the crumbling faculty infrastructure. Concerned legislators and some academic administrators have joined faculty associations in calling for dramatic reductions in the reliance on contingent appointments, commonly urging a maximum of 25 percent. 

Read the report, Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments, which was approved by the Committee on Contingency and the Profession. Or visit the AAUP Web site to learn more about our work on contingent faculty appointments.

Report prepared by Mayra Besosa (Spanish), California State University, San Marcos, co-chair, and Marc Bousquet (English), Santa Clara University, co-chair AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession

The AAUP Online is an electronic newsletter of the American Association of University Professors.  Learn more about the AAUP. Visit us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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