Poll: The effects of abolishing tenure

Here’s poll by the Atlantic magazine on what 30 college and university presidents thought would happen to their institutions if tenure were abolished immediately.

Interestingly, the magazine saw little consensus or a “rallying cry” for either tenure supporters or opponents.

Some chiefs talked about the pros and cons of ending it. But what would take its place?

One president of a 20,000+-student population had an idea::

[T]enure would be replace[d] by limited-term contracts and a complex, burdensome, continuous review of all faculty members at all levels of appointment.  The workload required to do it sufficiently well to stand up to the scrutiny of “equitable” review is remarkably large. To do this for the goal of separating a few who are normally called “incompetent” is very expensive and actually in a pragmatic world is not likely to be done well, either. Catching incompetence at the major universities is not the biggest problem. [Lack of] a mandatory retirement age is a much greater problem.

(The emphasis in the last sentence is mine.)

  • Anonymous

    It is a mixed bag. Tenure has pluses and minuses. You can be sure that tenure will always be in force at places like Carleton. There is an obvious reason. This is a can of worms that will eventually have to be opened at the U of M, but that is not our main problem right now.

    And I agree with you about mandatory retirement age. It should be seventy. At least one principled academic has announced well in advance of reaching the age of mandatory retirement that she will retire at 67.

    Unfortunately there are some outstanding academics who have continued to teach – and do it very well – past the age of seventy. Mandatory retirement in cases such as these also seems unfair.

    I can’t really think of a fair solution.