Awarding tenure status to exceptional faculty members promotes a higher quality of education. In addition, having tenure status at UAA aids the university in being able to hold on to talented faculty.
In Part IV of the University of Alaska Board of Regents Policy, tenure is defined as “the status of holding a faculty appointment on a continuing basis following evaluation and award according to the terms of P04.04.040.B.”
The UA Board of Regents are committed to creating an environment that nurtures academic freedom. According to UA Board of Regents Policy, one means by which they do this is by providing employment security to exceptional or long-serving faculty members. UA Board of Regents Policy dictates that “any change in fraction of full-time appointment as a tenured faculty member must be by mutual consent of the university and the faculty member.”
While there are exceptions to this ruling, under current policy, to be a tenured professor within the University of Alaska system more or less means that he or she cannot be fired. The reason this makes UAA a higher quality university is because it protects and encourages freedom of thought and speech.
Not all university professors enjoy the protections of a labor union and even amongst those who do, there is always a threat of being terminated for speaking out in unpopular ways.
At UAA, a tenured professor enjoys academic freedom with less fear of retaliation than a non-tenured professor. Professors should be free to speak their minds. They should be free in what they say or write to disagree with the administration.
Outside of the UA system, universities have a sad history of firing professors that disrupt the status quo. While there are hundreds of misfortunate examples of this one illustration will suffice. According to Jonathan Cole, writing for HuffPost, a prominent example of university abuse of power can be seen in the case of Professor E.A. Ross.
Ross was a respected instructor at Stanford University at the beginning of the 20th century but was fired from Stanford for speaking out against the railroad monopolies. Ross was not tenured nor was he unionized in the days before academic labor unions became normalized.
UAA rewarding exceptional professors tenured status makes it a higher quality school because it helps us hold on to talented professors. A tenured professor can essentially remain at UAA for as long as they choose to. UAA needs that.
UAA relies heavily on the professors who have been teaching here for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, even 30 years. Skills in any craft come from experience, and while it is possible that a tenured professor could be incompetent it is highly unlikely. At UAA, a professor does not reach tenure status unless she or he is a qualified professional and expert in a chosen field.
For UAA to be a strong university it needs long-term commitment from our talented faculty. According to UAA Faculty Services, over 46 hardworking professors have been promoted to tenure status within the last two full calendar years. Awarding some of these professors tenured status helps us hold on to them and thus makes UAA a higher quality school where students can come and learn from a teaching staff who has dedicated their professional lives to fostering learning.
Opinions expressed in The Northern Light do not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper, its staff or faculty advisor(s).