We will be discussing the issue of the tenure of college professors. Tenure is often an area of controversy because its opponents state that it promotes incompetence and indifference in professors. Defenders argue that tenure encourages free expression in education. We will be presenting the history of tenure and it's advantages and disadvantages. Tenure is a serious issue because it sometimes divides the academic community; some professors feel tenure ensures job security, and some students believe it promotes the well-being of the university over that of the student. Therefore the actual effectiveness of the tenure system, along with possible solutions, will be critically examined in relation to the various participants in the collegiate world.
Our paper will be written in the form of an article, and made available to the general public on the web. Although nearly anybody may read this article, chances are they will be somehow associated with education (e.g. students, professors, deans).
This multiple audience will have varying needs: it may be read by those who support tenure, those who do not, or those who simply want facts. The document must be sectioned properly for easy reference, and not be too technical (unlikely, given the nature of the subject).
The main roles of our readers will be transmitters and implementors. We must maintain a neutral tone, and not sound too forward. Much of our audience will be considerably more qualified than we are in this area; in suggesting our solutions, it will be easy to be out of line by questioning their or their peers' decisions. We must make sure this does not happen.
The article will provide background information on tenure (such as its history and current statistics), to allow readers to form rational and fact-based opinions. Student readers will probably have had an experience with a tenured professor, good or bad. We can be more persuasive by appealing to these experiences.
Educational tenure is a simple program for a system which is founded upon diversity and specialization among colleges. But suggesting another such simplistic solution should be applied to the many diverse universities in the United States of America or worldwide would probably not change the problems colleges face in the tenure debate. The best solution for the tenure system is a program which matches the variable nature of colleges by providing a flexible program which allows colleges and its faculty the freedom to choose a specific implementation for their particular situation.
To this end we propose a multi-faceted tenure program which targets a school's goals to provide the criteria for tenure. Categories will be developed for the different types of universities, i.e. technical institutes, liberal arts, medical institutes, etc. Each category of colleges will receive a set of guidelines streamlined for their particular goals. For example, tenure at a technical institute would emphasize research and innovation, while tenure at a liberal arts school might emphasize published articles or community activity.
If universities require the ability to choose a tenure system, a faculty member should also be allowed the freedom to choose their level of involvement. In previous tenure systems a professor was either tenured or not. This inflexibility has become a hallmark of the current situation. To alleviate this problem the new program would have multiple levels of tenure which allow varied career paths and benefits for professors. By providing options for both administrators and faculty the program would create an environment structurally encouraging to innovation and creative freedom.
Regardless of the specific implementation, tenured faculty at all levels would be reviewed periodically to ensure the high quality of teaching the university system requires to provide students an exceptional education. This process of continual review is critical to the program in order to oppose the intellectual classroom stagnation which has become the stereotype for tenured professors.
By focusing restructuring on the three different levels of a college, the administration, the faculty, and the student, the new tenure system seeks to eliminate the dissonance harbored by the old program.
Our project will be in an article format as a presentation of our group's findings and suggestions. We will present both sides of the tenure debade issues and try and remain as objective as possible in our presentation of our findings and our suggestions.
Since we are writing for a multiple audience, it is important to use multiple pathways in our document. And since we are trying to make our paper and findings as widly accessible as possible, it is important to publish our project in a world-readable format.
The paper will be presented in a World Wide Web (WWW) format. We will use the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) version 3 to create the web pages. This will allow us to make our project world-readable, increasing the visibility of the class and our project. Publishing the project on the Web will allow the group to use inovative methods for definition and pathway addition in our document. Hyperlinks will allow us to connect related ideas in the paper as well as directly adding definitions and notes without cluttering the document.
Research Task Completion Date People Responsible a. History of tenure Thursday 11/21/96 Michael & Kerri b. Actual tenure status Thursday 11/21/96 Michael & Kerri c. Solutions to tenure Thursday 11/21/96 Michael & Kerri d. Pros of tenure Thursday 11/21/96 Michael & Kerri e. Cons of tenure Thursday 11/21/96 Michael & Kerri Writing/Preparation Tasks Completion Date People Responsible Writing 11/24/96 All Revision and editing 11/25/96 Tom Preparation of visuals 11/26/96 Jon Preparation of prelim. pages 11/26/96 All Preparation of Supplements 11/26/96 All Final proofreading 12/1/96 Tom
Last Modified 11/23/96 -- Jon A. Preston