Friday, August 13, 2010

FemaleScienceProfessor on Tenure

This article is well worth the read. My favorite part:

Would a system of renewable contracts really allow professors to break out of the "publish or perish" mania? Methinks it might have even the opposite effect. If there were no tenure, the rat race would never end. And, since academia is apparently equivalent to a customer service industry, consider what renewable contracts for advisers would do to their graduate students and postdocs, not to mention the research infrastructure that we build in part from grants and in part from our institutions, and use to train our advisees.

The more one thinks about the whole tenure issue, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as "removing tenure would improve the academy". I had not even considered the issue that professors would be training their competitors in a rotating contract system, which would definitely make the sort of long term investment strategy that we currently have hard to incent.

FSP has a more sympathetic view of Cathy Trower's piece; I'll grant that the ideas at the end of the Trower piece are an improvement over the part I like to quote. I'm not anti-reform but I would prefer that reform not consist entirely of massive changes to employment contracts introduced from above.

But it's a very well thought out piece and definitely worth a read.

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