UT’s Powers Calls for Rethinking How Tenure is Used

Sep 23, 2014 by

Saying that the current process of giving tenure to university professors could have a negative impact on aspiring scholars, University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers on Monday called for rethinking such long-term agreements with professors.

During his state of the university address, Powers noted that tenure has served an important role and is a necessary tool when competing for the best faculty. “But we need to be realistic by recognizing that it also has costs,” he added.

“It is a form of institutional leverage, just like debts or any long-term contract, that locks an institution into a long-term arrangement that might be out of kilter with the needs of a changing student body and changing research needs,” he said. “Coupled with the federal law that we can’t have a mandatory retirement age, it can present a barrier for aspiring scholars to embark on teaching careers.”

The president was making the broader point that a university’s resources needed to be deployed strategically in a way that aligns with its teaching and research goals. He suggested that tenure should be used when competition for faculty is particularly acute and in areas that are particularly research-centric.

“My point here is not that I have the answer,” he said. “My point is that we can’t shy away from an issue even as sacred as how we use tenure. We need to lead the way by implementing everything we do in light of the purposes we claim it promotes.”

via UT’s Powers Calls for Rethinking How Tenure is Used | The Texas Tribune.

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