Comments on: Tenure: what is it good for? (Absolutely nothing?) http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 07:56:15 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Counterfeit campuses? : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-474139 Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:19:50 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-474139 [...] about writing software anyway?  This sounds about as exciting as the yet-to-be released movie “Tenure,” which was shot at Bryn Mawr in 2008.  (Sounds like a straight-to0-DVD and video dump, to me!)  What’s next?  A suspense movie [...]

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By: Dorie LaRue http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-156810 Sun, 21 Dec 2008 22:34:32 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-156810 Thank you for the advice. And it is good. I am keeping in mind a novel Japanese By Spring as a good example of academic farce and have combed thru my manuscript again. I am making the Bosnian student funnier, like Alexjandre Hemon’s character a bit. As far as living under fire before being (or not being tenured) I’m happy to see such excellent resources now, articles, books, and your website which evidences more of a cognizance of academic bullying. This is a great website. I’m sure just reading about the viccissitudes helps others.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-75140 Fri, 05 Sep 2008 15:06:50 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-75140 Dorie–you poor thing. I’m so sorry that you (also!) had a rough time. I think the concept could be really funny, if handled correctly. I think making it as broad a farce as you can would be the way to go, perhaps.

Keep us posted! Now that the academic year is under way, I’m sure I’ll be writing more about academic workplace bullying and the dark underbelly of the tenure system in the near future.

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By: Dorie LaRue http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-74988 Fri, 05 Sep 2008 13:09:19 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-74988 I wish I had had this blog a few years ago when I was coming up for tenure. I was too busy dodging bullets though to have had time to read it. I need some feedback. I am writing a novel of a woman coming up from tenure and a Bosnian student who has survived the Siege. I am trying to show the parallels. My new colleague, brilliant, funny, and yet to come up for tenure thinks the idea of comparing the tenure journey and its betrayals and covert aggression to pre Bosnia and the Bosnian seige is disengenous considering the magnitude of the war crimes. Please give me feedback. Is it too far fetched? My novel is dark and funny, I hope.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-4757 Wed, 02 Apr 2008 02:36:37 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-4757 I thought I would post-in to what is hopefully a not-yet-dead thread, on intersections between tenure and unions in the academy. I think the latter are/can be a valuable element but they probably need to be reconstituted once a generation before they become too ingrown and entangled with the institutional culture and more wedded to “process” than to substance issues. Somebody has to actually run them, for one thing, and anyone hoping to do that, even with reduced load, and actually engage in the “free speech and the pursuit of scholarship” mentioned in the initial post, above, is probably going to be disappointed.

But the key point is that much of what academics do simply doesn’t map onto the collective bargaining framework. We have a 14-campus system, one union, one contract. From the beginning of time until last fall, thirteen campuses used the industry-standard fifty minute teaching hour. We used the sixty minute hour. The accumulated time deficit over semesters and years fried student and faculty brains. New “managers” in the state system, in pursuit of uniformity in all things, proposed to cut our classes to the fifty minute model. Part of the local here dug in its heels: “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Shorter Hours Has Got to Go…” (I’m facetiously paraphrasing, but that actually was the burden of one position). Newer hires were aghast. The fallback position became: “Well, if we’re going to let them cut our hours in the classroom” (for the same contractually mandated pay scales) “we should at least see what we can get them to give us in return…” (Again, facetious, but only in form). Finally there was a rebellion and a plebiscite in which most (but nowhere NEAR all) of the siblinghood voted for shorter hours for the same pay. My own department’s “reps” split their votes to reflect an internal straw poll in which they said the sentiment was divided. Management forced through the change–shorter time on the line for the same money in the pay envelope–and some of the old tuskers huffed and puffed and, we don’t know quite what happened to them then.

We have no Faculty Senate, only a “University Senate,” with representation for all sorts of “stakeholders,” and this is the nominal institutional governance mechanism. The Union claims to be the constitutive body for curriculum and to have merely “delegated” this function conditionally to said Senate. Every contract year it threatens to “take back” the curricular role, uses this as a bargaining chip, then relents when the contract is signed. The Senate denies that its power is based on any such free gift, but nobody knows. Curricular discourse here, meanwhile, is basically out of the Twilight Zone.

The ultimate point is that unions can do worthy work, mostly on hard core economic issues, but in deep ways the things that faculties are charged with in the realms of academic governance are not properly matters of collective bargaining. If I were in any other workplace I can conceive, long after the building has gone silent, doing what we like to call “my own work” and posting to Historiann as the occasion offers, who would hasten to clear me out of the shop, the managerial class, or the union? These points only partly intersect with those about tenure made above and elsewhere on this blog, but I think they are not entirely irrelevant either.

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By: Professor Zero http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-4257 Thu, 27 Mar 2008 03:55:05 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-4257 No, I don’t mean to say it’s the U of Ph’s fault, they’re a different kind of institution and business and they didn’t initiate the corporatization model. Graduate union busting Yale is indeed much more worthy of attention – note that those top Ivies are the ones famous for not tenuring tenure track assistant professors, having all those not really tenure track jobs, etc.

But I do agree with the Lumpenprofessoriat post according to which abolition of tenure is not revolution, but surrender.

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By: The Constructivist http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-4125 Tue, 25 Mar 2008 09:44:53 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-4125 But can/should rethinking and extending tenure be a weapon to roll back the U of Ph-ization tide? Which, really, when you think about it, shouldn’t be laid at the door of the U of Ph, but at places like graduate-union-busting Yale….

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-4082 Mon, 24 Mar 2008 18:29:44 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-4082 AAUP is too radical??? Good grief.

Yes, tenure is definintely preferable to the University of Phoenixification of us all!

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By: Professor Zero http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-4081 Mon, 24 Mar 2008 18:27:05 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-4081 “…I don’t think that’s what most people do with their experience.”

Correct, which is why I, who am quite severe, find them irresponsible, morally reprehensible, and unfit to be in any position of power.

But a lot of these professors I met before they started their assistant professorships, and they were jerks and egoists *then*.

Given that, and given the continued deterioration of the general situation and the move toward corporatization, I can see how people younger than I would be for abolishing tenure.

But I’ve always had a hard time organizing – professors and even graduate students by and large don’t want unions in the states I’ve worked in, feel unreasonably that even the AAUP is too radical. So I have a hard time seeing how abolishing tenure would do anything except turn us all into the University of Phoenix. ;-)

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/comment-page-1/#comment-3871 Sun, 23 Mar 2008 02:31:43 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/03/19/tenure-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing/#comment-3871 Prof. Zero–an unusual point of view, yes, but an admirable one! I think your resiliency is remarkable, and I really admire your determination.

I also agree with you that people damaged by the tenure process “have a responsibility, to life and people in general, to resist the damage and resist replicating it,” but I don’t think that’s what most people do with their experience. In an ideal world, they would work for change, but from what I’ve seen, they don’t. I don’t like admitting defeat, but so far I haven’t seen the kinds of changes to the system I had hoped I would see 10+ years into the profession. In fact, the changes I’ve seen–with corporate values replacing academic values in many universities–have only made tenure more fraught, and tenure candidates more scrutinized. And, as usual these pressures are not distributed randomly across genders and ethnicities on the faculty–they’re being increasingly borne by women faculty who are disproportionately stuck in temporary or adjunct positions, and by women and faculty of color who are in departments under political attack or targeted for elimination, as in the case of Africana Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of South Florida.

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