Friday, January 28, 2011
As Paul Caron notes here, the University of Michigan faculty senate considered and overwhelmingly rejected a proposed change to the school's maximum term for faculty to seek tenure. It was an advisory vote. Currently, Michigan faculty may take up to eight years prior to tenure - though individual colleges may opt for shorter periods. The law school, for example, has a six year maximum term pre-tenure, while engineering allows seven years and business and medicine permit eight. The provost has proposed extending the maximum time for tenure consideration to ten years - while still permitting individual colleges to opt for shorter periods.
Officially, at least, this is designed to make it easier for candidates to develop the necessary portfolio for tenure. Provost Phil Hanlon argues that this extended period will give faculty greater flexibility. And this from the medical school:
"The Medical School is in favor of this change,” says Dr. Margaret Gyetko, professor of internal medicine and associate dean for faculty affairs. “Given our faculty’s need to focus on our tripartite mission in clinical care, education and research, flexibility to a 10-year probationary period is most appropriate.”
Why is the faculty senate so dead set against this the voluntary shift? The most potent claim is the fear that colleges will revisit current rules, extend their pre-tenure term, and string along assistant professors - all without any improved outcomes for untenured folks.
Five years ago, a similar proposal was floated - and shot down.