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Is it Time to Eliminate Tenure?

by Samantha Bernstein and Adrianna Kezar

The State College of Florida recently scrapped tenure for incoming faculty. New professors at this public university will be hired on the basis of annual contracts that the school can decline to renew at any time.

The decision has been highly controversial. But this is not the first time tenure has come under attack. In 2015, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called for a reevaluation of state laws on tenure and shared governance. As of March 2016, a new policy at the University of Wisconsin has made faculty vulnerable to lay offs.

The tenure system provides lifetime guarantees of employment for faculty members. The purpose is to protect academic freedom – a fundamental value in higher education that allows scholars to explore controversial topics in their research and teaching without fear of being fired.

It also ensures that faculty can voice their opinions with university administration and ensure that academic values are protected, particularly from the increasingly corporate ideals invading higher education institutions.

Our research on the changing profile of university faculty shows that while the university enterprise has transformed dramatically in the last hundred years, the tenure employment model remains largely unchanged. So, has

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Recently Commented

  • AdjunctNation Editorial Team: @Jeffr thanks for pointing out the distinction.
  • Jeffr: Note that adjunct faculty are considered to be on a “term” basis and receives no protection except...
  • Scott: I believe Sami is correct in that this no reasonable assurance language will allow adjuncts continuing access...
  • Nancy West-Diangelo: It’s as if we’ve lost the ability to listen critically. If the point of the work we...
  • Freddi-Jo Bruschke: An excellent description of this editorial.