University of Minnesota College of Design Dean Thomas Fisher explains in The Huffington Post what faculty must do to keep public support for tenure, a perk that is coming under fire in these tight financial times:
“Drawing attention to the public benefit that tenure provides seems essential at a time when some will want to portray it as an undeserved privilege. With the receipt of tenure comes a responsibility to serve not just as educators and researchers, but also as public commentators, addressing a broad audience about issues of general interest from the perspective of a particular discipline. In addition to publishing in journals, tenured faculty need to write or speak to the public about their work in ways and through venues accessible to everyone. To demonstrate the value of tenure, faculty have to demonstrate the reason we have it to begin with by taking stands on important topics that may require the protection it provides.”
(When I read this, I thought of a comment I printed back in October by Education Sector policy director Kevin Carey:
Most people claiming that tenure protects their radical ideas from censure by malevolent outside forces appear to be flattering themselves with the conceit that anybody knows what their ideas are in the first place.
Perhaps Fisher was making the point in a gentler manner.