Special Reports

Academic Tenure At Universities Decline, Making Political Defense For It Difficult


Academic tenure has been on decline recently. This has affected a lot of professors and has made it more difficult to defend politically. In The New Workplace Institute Blog by David Yamada, academic tenure offers professors with a higher level of protection for academic freedom as well as provides higher levels of job security. This means that tenured professors can only be dismissed for serious offences such as failing to perform crucial job responsibilities, grave misconduct or intense economic necessity.

Northwestern University's policy on tenure and promotion stated that much attention is focused on the quantity and quality of a candidate's scholarly or creative work. The school believes that it is important to check a professor's accomplishments as well as his or her potential for future achievements.

However, Mark Yzaguirre, in a piece for The Hill, said that the significant drop of the number of tenured faculty in universities and colleges right now caught his eye as a political observer. He believes that the governance of public universities is an issue of public policy and anything related to it is a political question.

Yzaguirre shared an article by The Chronicle of Higher Education describing how tenured faculty only makes up 17 percent of college instructors. The current trend is on part-time adjuncts, which has quadrupled in number in the recent years.

He said that the low number of instructors, who have tenure protections especially in public universities, makes the whole matter of academic tenure more challenging to defend politically. Majority of voters also don't have tenure protections in their jobs which makes it more difficult to get them to support tenure for university and college professors.

Yzaguirre did note that these voters may support the protection of academic tenure at public universities if they experienced being taught by tenured professors and received valuable instruction from them. However, if graduate students and adjunct professors are doing most of the work, they may not see the value in retaining academic tenure in the institutions that their taxes help support.

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