Tenure Matters: An Historian’s Perspective

This paper juxtaposes (i) the findings of the 2006 Modern Language Association Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion with (ii) the story that Alvin Kernan tells -- in his professorial memoir In Plato’s Cave (1999) -- about his pursuit of tenure at Yale in the 1950s and early 1960s to advance the view that “tenure” is best understood as a practice defined by a set of protocols that have been created and elaborated over time.

The Personal Ethics of Academic Freedom: Problems of Knowledge and Democratic Competence

The following essay takes up Robert Post’s influential account of academic freedom in order to consider the role of personal ethics in practices surrounding academic freedom. The essay begins by outlining and proposing some revisions of Post’s account. It then considers three topics that are connected with academic freedom: the responsibilities of academics in extramural speech; in professional evaluation of research; and, finally, in tenure decisions.

Does Academic Freedom Have a Future?

Prognostications about the future of academic freedom will be informed best by the lessons of its past. And if there is any lesson to be learned from the AAUP’s first century, it is that academic freedom can never be taken for granted. While academic freedom is one of the foundations of greatness in the American higher education system, it has always been—and always will be—contested and vulnerable. Academic freedom must be fought for repeatedly, and there will be no final victory in the struggle.

The Professoriate Reconsidered

What will the work of the faculty look like in 2050? We suspect it may be quite different from both of the models that currently predominate: research-oriented faculty members with tenure or on the tenure track, on the one hand, and, on the other, non-tenure-track, mostly part-time faculty members, who typically carry out little research. Neither of these models, in our view, is adequate to today’s enterprise—one that is increasingly focused on teaching first-generation and low-income students, often online.


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