In today’s post, I want to share an excerpt from an article I wrote several years ago that appeared in the journal, Industry and Higher Education. In it, I describe the evolution of how higher education, industry, and the federal government work together to produce research. Historically, academia and industry have been separate producers of knowledge. Beginning in the late 18th century, technologies were developed from a scientific knowledge base and then used to promote economic development. Instances of basic science supporting technological progress in industry increased during the 19th century, which encouraged cooperation between different sectors. In the United States, while the evolution of government industry-university relationship parallels the changing role of science and university in serving regional and national needs, the relationship between government, industry, and university were particularly shaped by some historical landmark events and conditions.
Labor Day is the chance for Americans to celebrate the success of the American workforce. This recognition acknowledges the importance of workers to the social and economic progress of the United States. Last year, I discussed the plight of adjuncts in higher education in the tradition of Labor Day. To celebrate this year, I will discuss the plight of tenure. Across institutional types, tenure is in decline. Just a generation ago, tenure earning faculty made up nearly two-thirds of faculty in U.S. higher education. As we grill our hamburgers today, the number of tenure earning faculty has dropped below one-third. But why do we need tenure? Doesn’t tenure just protect lazy, deadwood faculty? Other professions don’t receive lifetime contracts, why should professors? In today’s post, I will share the four challenges that tenure enables and their importance for both higher education and society.
What is tenure? Simply put, tenure is a lifetime contract.
This does not mean a lifetime job. Tenure establishes clear guidelines as to how and why a faculty member can be fired.
Long before the levees broke in Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana has struggled. Some of the disasters are problems from within the state such as corruption and political incompetence while others are outside the state’s control such as the BP oil spill or the FEMA response after Katrina. It is no surprise that the higher education system of a state struggles when a state has taken as many body blows as Louisiana in the last ten years. Decreases in state support of higher education has led to the closing of academic programs and LSU even threatened to declare financial exigency. However, the latest round of problems for LSU are a manmade disaster that leads me to say to future prospective LSU faculty: Don’t take a faculty job at LSU.
LSU has a long history of problems regarding the way the institution treats faculty.