Tell that to Ward Churchill.

18 02 2011

Mark Bauerlein found the same Las Vegas Sun article that I did a couple of days ago. His response was a query:

As you know, the only way to remove tenured professors is by shutting down departments. There are hints in the story that plans are underway. Any guesses as to which departments will be the first to go?

[emphasis added]

Not so fast, explains commenter “jffoster:”

Wrote Prof. Bauerlein: “As you know, the only way to remove tenured professors is by shutting down departments.”

Not quite, at least not in many places. A declaration general of financial exigency typically, and with particular local variation in detail, allows for the layoff of tenured faculty irrespective of whether an entire department is closed. It sound like this is the provision under which the University of Nevada at Lost Wages is going to operate under.

I’m hardly an expert on financial exigency, but that still sounds about right to me. How it will play out depends upon a clash of forces that most people prefer not to test.

The thing is, Bauerlein’s rather sweeping statement has a much bigger caveat: gross misconduct. Think what you want about Ward Churchill, but he is the most obvious example of the fact that tenured professors are far from unaccountable in today’s higher education environment.

Yes, tenure makes us more secure in our positions than most workers, but most of us pay heavily in lifetime earnings in order to achieve that security. The notion that it is practically impossible to fire a tenured professor is a smokescreen designed to distract the public from other issues that have a much greater effect upon their day-to-day lives.




One response

26 02 2011
Petty tyrants are everywhere. « More or Less Bunk

[…] that many of us professors are actually union members, but a lot of us are tenured. Tenure, while hardly the bulletproof vest that its critics think it is, does presumably offer enough protection so that reasonable people can feel free to speak their […]

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