Tenure or NOT

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The following exchange comes to us from a Professor Tenure thread at tromboneforum.org. One of the thread’s interlocutors appears to be PRO Tenure, while the other speaker is definitely CON Tenure. Teacher or professor tenure is quite the controversy these days. Many feel that the awarding of tenure promotes complacency and induces a can NOT touch me MIGHTIER THAN THOU attitude in tenure awardees.

It is true that some teachers, upon the awarding of tenure, decline in their teaching performance and attitude. Those type of teachers, in my view, are the exception rather than the rule. Hungry and hard-working adjunct professors often deliver better instruction than some fat cat tenured teachers. Ironically, many adjunct professors get treated like dirt and work in very substandard conditions.  

A lot of what is disseminated about the unprofessional behavior of tenured instructors may not be true or difficult to verify. For example, I was reading an educational blog where a student’s mother had reason to believe that a gay male tenured professor had made a pass at her 18-year-old college freshman son. It turns out, as far as I can tell, that  her kiddo was just pissed about one of his exams being graded unfairly. Apparently the vindictive teen fabricated a story about a homosexual  relationship with the professor, out of spite, with the intention of impugning character.

fsgazda:
What you are saying is an opinion that is not supported by the facts.  While there may be some poor teachers that have tenure, it is rare and not unique to academia.First, in the vast majority of cases tenure is only awarded after a 5 – 7 year review process.  It is certainly not easy to get, and far from a guarantee.Some jobs state that you are not eligible for tenure without a doctorate, although that doesn’t mean that you get tenured once you get a doctorate, you still have to pass the review process.  This may be what you are thinking of.Second, tenure exists to protect professors who have proven themselves from changing administration, academic fads, etc.  Many times a teacher’s best original work comes after tenure, when they no longer have to worry about offending or disagreeing with the wrong person.

Third, while a few (very few) tenured professors stop putting forth their best effort, the vast majority continue to better themselves and improve as teachers over the years.  This is no different than anyone in any job who is coasting until retirement.  It happens in every profession, some much more often than teaching.

Last, if a tenured professor does something wrong, they can be dismissed.  Legitimate charges will bring action.  However any charges of personal or academic incompetence or misconduct must be proven by due process, so one disgruntled student cannot ruin a career that has taken years to build.

If you are experiencing poor teaching, I suggest that you complain through the proper channels, or switch teachers.

Frank Gazda

harmonslide:
My main beef with tenure is that it gives the professor freedom to regress from being a decent human being as much as he/she likes, without risk of significant punishment. This is a fairly common occurance. Even if the professor starts out decent, they can forget being able to teach or communicate or be even partially courteous when they get their tenure. There have been several examples I’ve involved in a few of the colleges around here including:[*]Loud gay-bashing in front of a gay business representative (and then demanding that the business rep apologize to him)
[*]Giving every male student a B and every female an A
[*]Rude, unjustified remarks to students (this one is common)
[*]Not showing up to teach class; has the grad assistants do it and still gets paid[/list](those are all different professors, within one or two schools alone… it’s not so uncommon)…. I don’t tenure is a good idea at all.
tromboja:
Some kids think that professors give some group of students (male/female, asian/non-asian, etc) all A’s while the other group of students don’t get A’s. And then there is this classic “He/she didn’t like me so he/she gave me a C”. Uh huh, sure.This isn’t directed at you personally since I don’t know your specific case, but quit whining and do your work.It’s like a sign my trombone professor has :”Less whining, more air”.
harmonslide:
Quote from: “tromboja”Some kids think that professors give some group of students (male/female, asian/non-asian, etc) all A’s while the other group of students don’t get A’s. And then there is this classic “He/she didn’t like me so he/she gave me a C”. Uh huh, sure.This isn’t directed at you personally since I don’t know your specific case, but quit whining and do your work.It’s like a sign my trombone professor has :”Less whining, more air”.

I’m not even in college quite yet. I don’t whine about my teachers, and I do my work. I haven’t had any big issues with teachers. But I’ve observed some college professors and I am disgusted with how they act.

 

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3 comments on “Tenure or NOTAdd yours →

  1. Frank Gazda speaks words of wisdom! It is way overblown about the problems with tenure in usa. I have taken plenty of courses from tenured profs at TCU in Fort Worth. Only one bad experience!

  2. I think what Frank Gazda states is essentially true, BUT some Tenured professors and teachers actually do change after they are given tenure. Some of them tend to preach and moralize a little bit more. Some are more likely to give you an F in their course knowing that you will not have much luck contesting the grade against a tenured faculty member. I think somewhere on this blog a teacher was fired for viewing porn at work and had the audacity to appeal his termination!!

  3. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that if any of you plan on going to school at Wayne State College, take Frank Gazda’s Intro to Art course. He is a knowledgeable guy. He is sort of bored with the courses he teaches, but has a very obscure sense of humor. Keeps you on your toes. I am not even sure if he is tenured, but he taught with a lot of verve and passion when he was interested in what he was talking about.

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