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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues


Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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8. Why Tenure Needs Protection in These Troubled Times (Philo A. Hutcheson)


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8.  Why Tenure Needs Protection in These Troubled Times


Tenure is a popular target, and it has been a popular target for well over a century. Critiques range from the perspective that it is nothing better than job protection for lazy or incompetent (or lazy and incompetent) professors to its failure to protect nontenured professors from attacks on their academic freedom. It is important to acknowledge that both conditions exist. There are also concerns about tenured professors seemingly enforcing their social or political or economic norms in classrooms or the degree to which tenure-track professors exercise caution in their research and teaching in order to avoid challenging the work of tenured professors who will vote on their tenure. Yet two broader questions are the most important to consider: What do we achieve with a tenure system? And who could benefit?

The concepts of academic freedom and tenure are inextricably and necessarily linked; hence, I will begin with a discussion of academic freedom and then move to a discussion of tenure, concluding with some thoughts about recent events and possible threats to academic freedom that require the protection of tenure—more specifically, to the need to extend the protection of tenure in terms of those who do not currently have tenure as well as institutional commitment to tenure.

Professors engage in a variety of tasks in their daily work; in general, these tasks fall...

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