SEMINAR ON TENURE
Tenure is both a longstanding institution in American higher education and a recurring
object of attack. Although arguments on the subject of tenure, pro and con, tend to follow
similar patterns from one academic generation to another, the current academic environment
has seen nationally a redoubled assault on tenure at the legislative or governing board
level, in the press, and indeed among some voices within academe itself.
It was with this in mind that Vice President Sylvia Manning appointed a University-wide seminar to examine the entire issue of academic tenure, both in broad general theory and in terms of actual academic practice at the University of Illinois. The drafters of this report have met at monthly intervals throughout the 1995-96 academic year, in face-to-face meetings in Chicago and Urbana as well as by videoconference. From the outset the goal of the Seminar has been to acquaint itself as fully as possible with the entire array of arguments on tenure, to ask itself fundamental questions about the operation of the tenure system at the University of Illinois, and to develop a position based on its review of the evidence, a position which in turn we submit to the University community as the basis for a wider discussion.
The spirit in which our inquiry has been conducted has been, we hope, one of open-mindedness to the various positions expressed in the tenure debate, and has been consistently guided by the premise that honest self-reflection within the academic community on so highly-charged an issue is far preferable to a purely defensive posture taken in response to extramural attacks. Participants in the Seminar, drawn from a much longer list of excellent names suggested by academic deans and faculty leaders on the three campuses, were not subjected to any litmus test of their views on tenure; rather, such factors as general expertise with the terms of the tenure debate, actual participation in the tenure and promotion process on the campuses of the University of Illinois, and disciplinary perspective were taken into account in their selection. We were mindful of the fact that the credibility of any document on so sensitive an issue depends at least in part on whether a healthy diversity of points of view entered into its construction.
Inherent in our discussions of the tenure issue was a question succinctly raised by one
of our members at the first meeting: Does the tenure system, in theory and practice,
enhance educational quality at the University of Illinois? Or, to put it somewhat more
starkly, would the University of Illinois be a better place if a system of tenure were not
in place? Tenure, from our point of view, is not narrowly a question of faculty
self-interest or the preservation of a unique privilege not available to those in other
walks of life. It must rather be seen in relationship to such questions as the quality of
student learning, the quality of the faculty, and the extent to which any institution of
higher learning serves the free circulation of ideas. Furthermore, tenure is not a
free-standing issue, though both its defenders and its attackers have sometimes treated it
as if it were. Rather, the definition of tenure is inherently bound up with the question
not only of how a college or university carries out its roles in service to society,
but how it may do this while still being a place where faculty members may function as
sometimes less-than-welcome critics of society.
When a leading proponent of alternatives to tenure, Richard Chait, suggests as he has in public addresses on the topic that "tenure is the abortion issue of higher education," we take him to mean that like abortion, tenure has come to be a magnet, or perhaps a proxy, for the discussion of a number of other issues that derive from more fundamentally divergent views about the connection between individual rights and the social good. "Tenure," writes Eugene Rice, "has become a legislative target and exaggerates the disconnection of faculty from the broader community. The professoriate has not effectively articulated the social meaning of tenure -- the protection of the university as a place where inconvenient questions can be asked, and not as job protection for a specially sheltered status group." For this reason it has seemed important to us to put tenure in the context of its larger institutional and societal context, and to try to show how it connects with faculty members as citizens of their institutions.
In the report that follows, we will first provide a brief overview of the history of
faculty tenure in higher education and explain the theory that has traditionally been
adduced in its support. Thereafter we will examine both longstanding and more recent
critiques of tenure, including both "root and branch" opposition to the entire
system and suggestions for its modification or reform. We will also offer
some observations on its present implementation at the University of Illinois.
I. The History and Theory of Tenure
a. Historical Background
Tenure is a well-established fixture of American higher education. It has traditionally been seen as an inducement to attract highly qualified men and women to a profession which has been tended to be less remunerative than other professional callings such as medicine and the law, but which offers the satisfaction of the free pursuit and exposition of truth in teaching and research. According to what may be called the charter document of today's academic profession in the United States, the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure (see below), "Tenure is a mean to certain ends; specifically: (1) freedom of teaching and research and of extramural activities, and (2) a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive to men and women of ability."
The leading historian of tenure has located the roots of the practice in the autonomy, through self-governance, of the guild model in the Middle Ages. With the move toward lay (that is, external) control of colleges in America during the Colonial period, tenure became linked increasingly to the development of contractual relationships of varying degrees of certainty. The advent of the present-day system was heralded by the formation of the American Association of University Professors in 1913, and the issuance of its 1915 General Report on Academic Freedom and Tenure, in response to a felt need, as expressed in the letter of one of the AAUP's founders A. O. Lovejoy, for "gradual formulation of general principles respecting the tenure of the professional office and the legitimate ground for the dismissal of professors." Firings of faculty on political grounds had been a not uncommon feature of American higher education at the turn of the century. At the same time the growing gap between a new administrative class and the full-time faculty, the professionalization of faculties in response to the German research university model, and the development of public (and therefore non-sectarian) universities all accounted for an altered faculty role in conditions in which a (perhaps benignly) authoritarian president could no longer practicably shape the development of curriculum or the hiring of increasingly specialized faculty.
Turn-of-the-century developments called into question the adequacy of a merely moral claim to indefinite appointment. Early higher education in America, to the extent that it was rooted in shared religious traditions and creeds, seems to have provided some responding measure of security to those who embraced the sectarian doctrine that held sway at a particular college. Where community interest is shared and identifiable, academic freedom may not be felt to be so immediately at issue in the life of that community. With the advance of science and the sometimes concomitant breakdown of religious beliefs, and the extent to which some fields, particularly economics, found themselves involved in a war of competing political interests, something more than "moral" tenure was felt to be necessary in an increasingly pluralistic nation.
In addition to providing a justification for tenure and defining a probationary term of no more than ten years, the 1915 Statement also took the first steps toward defining due process prior to dismissal or demotion of associate or full professors, or assistant professors with ten years of service or more. It called for specific charges in writing and fair trial before a faculty committee, subject to the legal power of the governing board for review. The 1915 Statement also acknowledged that the judicial entitlements of tenure did not extend to everyone on the faculty, and that the refusal of reappointment to a non-tenured faculty member should not be regarded as a dismissal. The rationale was that a full panoply of defenses for everyone would result effectively in the loss of an opportunity to make informed professional judgment on anyone prior to the expiration of a trial period of initial service. Thus from the very outset of the formulation of principles regarding tenure in higher education, the AAUP acknowledged that intrinsic to the system was a judgment of merit at the end of a specified term, leading either to non-renewal or to the award of tenure after a probationary period.
In 1940, in conjunction with the Association of American Colleges (and thus with the participation of a leading group of presidents of liberal arts colleges), the AAUP formulated a new Statement of Principles: Academic Freedom and Tenure, in which the term "probationary" was used for the first time, and in which tenure was decoupled from rank and linked to years of service in the profession nationally. Except in cases of financial exigency, all dismissals of tenured faculty, the Statement declared, should be for cause and determined judicially, and there should be due notice given to a faculty member whose term appointment was to expire without renewal. The Statement also reduced the probationary period to seven years, a compromise, apparently, between the ten years of the 1915 Statement and the shorter terms being pushed by the faculty unions. Finally, according to the 1940 Statement, a dismissal hearing should approximate a trial hearing to the extent that written charges be provided the tenured faculty member, that the faculty member also have access to a counsel or faculty advisor of his or her choosing, and that a full stenographic record be kept. In a derivative document, the Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings (1958), the AAUP and the AAC developed a more detailed set of hearing standards. Again, it is important to note that, like the 1940 Statement, this was the work of organizations representative of both faculty and administrators.
The professional standards developed in these documents have achieved wide currency in American higher education: through endorsement by over 135 higher education organizations; through direct quotation, reference, or the development of analogous and parallel standards in numerous regulations or handbooks of colleges and universities across the country; and in several dozen court cases where the judiciary has turned to those standards for informed guidance. To say this is, of course, not to claim automatic verification of the wisdom and eternal truth of this body of policy; it is merely to point out that that policy has exercised an extraordinary influence on the conduct of personnel policies in numerous colleges and universities around the country, to an extent that probably many faculty members do not recognize.
In the section that follows, we move beyond the history of personnel practices to a consideration of the bearings of tenure, first of all on society at large, and then within the college or university setting. In each of these categories we will try to define some balancing rationales, or considerations, that help to illuminate certain general features of the debate over tenure persisting throughout much of this century.
b. Tenure and Society
Academic freedom, according to the 1940 Statement, "applies to both teaching and
research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom
in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in
teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative
with rights." In this section, we examine what might be called two counterbalancing
functions of tenure: tenure as an instrument for the greater good, not of the academic
profession but of society as a whole, and tenure as indeed prescribing "correlative
duties," including (though by no means limited to) a standard of
exceptional care in professional utterance.
i. Tenure as a Social Good
The 1940 Statement sets forth what is generally regarded as the locus classicus of the rationale for tenure: "Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition."
Inherent in this declaration is the fundamental premise that tenure is not first
and foremost to be construed as a form of job security. It is true that the 1940
Statement, as we have noted at the head of Section I, alludes to tenure as a way of
providing "a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive
to men and women of ability." This is, however, a necessary but collateral precept.
The prior assumption, and the one on which the 1940 Statement must finally stand or fall,
is that society itself benefits from the institution of tenure because it benefits from
the exercise of free inquiry, however unorthodox or even threatening the immediate
consequences of that inquiry may seem to be. The issue as the 1940 Statement poses it has
both corporate and individual implications: implications not just for the academic freedom
of the faculty member, but for the role of the institution, not only as a resource base of
qualified faculty who may bring their expertise to the service of society -- as is
implicit in the role of the University of Illinois as a land-grant university founded
under the Morrill Act -- but as a forum for the informed and constructive criticism of
An expansion of the point can be found in a subsequent comment by Clark Byse and Louis Joughin:
Academic freedom and tenure do not exist because of a peculiar solicitude for the human beings
who staff our academic institutions. They exist, instead, in order that society may have the benefit of honest judgment and independent criticism which otherwise might be withheld because of fear of offending a dominant social group or transient social attitude.
It can, of course, be argued, and indeed is argued, that to the extent that the 1940
Statement articulates a desirable and defensible goal, tenure is not necessarily the only
way in which that goal can be served. Critics not only point to the fact that faculty
members who feel their academic freedom to have been injured may seek recourse in the
courts, but claim (what is perhaps factually a more arguable, but in any case a more
subjective judgment) that most institutions now have in place a series of protections
which make the position of a present-day faculty member quite different from what it was
in an era of virtually untrammeled presidential power and direct legislative
intrusiveness. We will return to these points later; for the time being we are merely
pointing out what the terms of the traditional defense of tenure have
ii. Tenure as Reciprocal Obligation
No discussion of academic freedom, or of tenure as a presumed guarantor of that freedom, is complete without acknowledgment that the protections offered by tenure have assumed a concomitant obligation on the part of the academic profession. Again, the 1940 Statement stands as an authoritative source. The first subsection, entitled "Academic Freedom," reads as follows:
(a) Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return
should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.
(b) Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they
should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. ...
(c) College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers
of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from
institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in
the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they
should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their
utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate
restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to
indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.
What is perhaps most immediately striking about this string of declarations is that they are much lengthier and more explicit with respect to the obligations of academic freedom than its privileges. While tenure is sometimes misunderstood as a license privileging any forum of utterance, however irresponsible (a misunderstanding that regrettably, in certain times and places, has been shared by some faculty members themselves), the professional ethics of academe require that the claim of free speech be subject to standards of professional care and accuracy in disciplinary utterance.
It is, of course, often alleged in the national debate over tenure that faculty members
do not police their own behavior with the scrupulousness that such standards require. Like
other statements about the tenure system, this one will deserve separate attention later
in our report. For the time being we would suggest only that it will be useful to
distinguish between those arguments which go to the heart of the theory of tenure and
those which more properly have to do with the administration of the
c. Tenure and the Institution
If tenure is to be defended as a social good, then the demonstration that it is also good for the college or university ought to follow readily. But here it is equally, if not more, apparent that there is far from either public or institutional concurrence. Does tenure advance, not just the individual development of faculty members who have it, but institutional excellence? Or is tenure, as some have alleged, either "excellence-neutral" at best or, at worst, an actual impediment to the achievement of high institutional quality?
It does not suffice here to record that virtually no major four-year institution of
higher learning, from the research university to the liberal arts college, operates in the
absence of a tenure system. Something more than an appeal to authority and the weight of
the tradition is required to state the case compellingly. In the section that follows, we
review both possibilities: that tenure is either a stimulus or an impediment to the excellence of the college or university in which it is incorporated.
i. Awarding Tenure as a Means of Insuring Quality
While the 1940 Statement speaks to the role of tenure in terms of academic freedom in teaching and research, and hence the protection of academic freedom as well as its correlative responsibilities, it does not really develop the subject of why "freedom and economic security, hence, tenure, are indispensable to the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations to its students and society." Yet among the "internal" arguments for tenure are that it is, or should be, a process of selection carried out in the interests of institutional excellence. That is, tenure is an instrument of quality control, and at an institution like the University of Illinois its conferral is far from automatic. It is not a right to be secured after a perfunctory period of probation, but an earned privilege. Nor, once secured, does it guarantee a job for life; it is not a sinecure. It is held under certain conditions of performance of duties, and it may also be subject to external constraints: for example, tenure, even once it has been granted, does not necessarily prevail under conditions in which the employing institution confronts financial exigency or program discontinuance.
The root meaning of the term tenure derives, of course, from the Latin tenere, "to hold," and in this broad sense it refers simply to any conditions attendant upon the holding of an office or other position. Hence the "tenure" of a United States Senator is a stipulated term of service (six years), with the possibility of re-election. For this reason, in higher education the noun is sometimes prefixed by an identifying adjective, e.g. indefinite tenure, to distinguish it from a fixed term appointment. In the interests of brevity, our discussion employs the single word "tenure" to convey this second, narrower meaning.
At the heart of the tenure system in higher education is the locus of the burden
of proof. The theory presupposes that following a probationary period, generally
not to exceed six years, with a seventh year representing either a terminal appointment or
the initiation of tenure, a decision is made on whether or not a faculty member is
continued on indefinite appointment. Prior to the award of tenure, the burden of proof is
on the faculty member to show why he or she should be continued. At the University of
Illinois, as at most institutions ranging from four-year liberal arts colleges to research
universities, this showing requires a demonstrated record of quality not just in
one area but three: in teaching, research, and service (to the university, to the
profession, and, where related to the field of expertise, to the community as well).
That record is normally reviewed by peers in the field. Tenured colleagues in the discipline have the first and primary responsibility for reaching a recommendation on the scholarly achievement and promise of the candidate. Evaluations of teaching effectiveness are commonly sought through a combination of student evaluations and classroom visits by faculty peers. Upper-level faculty committees and administrators, after a review of the evidence, concur or disagree with the departmental recommendation. The exhaustiveness of the review is greatest at the point of the "up-or-out" decision, but prevailing practice generally also dictates a thorough review, either by the department as a whole or a committee within the department, midway through the faculty member's probationary term of service. Additional annual review takes place as well, especially since, at Chicago and Champaign-Urbana, salaries are merit-driven and determined each year rather than conferred automatically according to a negotiated preexisting scale.
Since the standards for the demonstration of individual excellence at an institution of the stature of the University of Illinois are thus very high, it is only appropriate that once tenure has been granted, the burden of proof should shift from the faculty member to the institution to show cause why he or she should not be retained. A positive decision on the award of tenure represents a considerable institutional commitment and a confidence regarding not only the present quality of the faculty member's work but his or her promise and continued productivity. In the words of Duke University law professor William Van Alstyne:
tenure is translatable principally as a statement of formal assurance that thereafter the
individual's professional security and academic freedom will not be placed in question without
the observance of full academic due process....The conferral of tenure means that the
institution, after utilizing a probationary period of as long as six
years in which it had had ample opportunity to determine the professional competence and
responsibility of its appointees, has rendered a favorable judgment establishing a
rebuttable presumption of the individual's professional excellence. As the lengthy term of
probationary service will have provided the institution with sufficient experience to
determine whether the faculty member is worthy of a presumption of fitness, it has not
seemed unreasonable to shift to the individual the benefit of doubt when the institution
thereafter extends his service beyond the period of probation and, correspondingly, to
shift to the institution the obligation fairly to show why, if at all, that faculty member
should nonetheless be fired.
As Van Alstyne proceeds to show, not only has there never been "a claim that tenure insulates any faculty member from a fair accounting of his professional responsibilities within the institution which counts upon his service" (328), but even faculty members of "unquestioned excellence" may not be immune to the termination of their services on the programmatic and financial grounds stated earlier.
Just as peer review, in the classic tenure system, is regarded as intrinsic in the judgment of a candidate for tenure, so is it regarded in the case of the termination of tenured faculty members for cause. That is, such termination requires a showing of "just cause" following a hearing before a body of professional peers.
Faculty quality is at the heart of a university's educational life. In an era in which it has become more accurate to refer to institutions like the University of Illinois as "state-assisted" rather than "state-supported," a substantial part of institutional momentum and reputation derives from the extent to which faculty members bring both favorable publicity and (depending on their disciplines) supplementary income to the university. Furthermore, when it functions at its maximum potential, tenure frees a faculty member for long-term research, for considered reflection on the nature of curriculum and the quality of his or her own instruction, and for service to the University and the public which cannot be arbitrarily interrupted through termination.
It remains here to be considered whether the University of Illinois would be a better place for teaching and learning if it did not adhere to a tenure system. The answer will inevitably in some degree be speculative. But the question is still worth asking.
It is, for example, often argued that in today's "buyer's market," it would be possible for the University to attract bright young scholars without the existence of a tenure system. We are aware of no systematic and wide-ranging study of entrants to the teaching profession that would cast light on the attractiveness of college or university employment in the absence of tenure. There is no doubt, unfortunately, that the shortage of jobs in academe, or at least many disciplines within it, make it possible right now to secure highly-qualified and eager young faculty on non-tenure track appointments, even when it is made clear that those appointments cannot possibly be converted to tenure-track lines. Here it can indeed be argued that the presence of tenured faculty may itself operate as a source of dissatisfaction and alienation among those who are not on a tenure-bearing line. Why not level the playing field, therefore, and either abolish tenure altogether or allow it to wither away as older, tenured faculty members retire?
There is considerable, albeit anecdotal, evidence, however, that the presence of a tenure system is necessary to compete for the best young faculty. Any college or university doing away with tenure, under present conditions at least, is undeniably placing itself at a competitive disadvantage with other institutions. We all know from conversations with incoming junior faculty that conditions for the award of tenure, and the length of time necessary to qualify it, are lively concerns at the time they are interviewed. Many now laboring in non-tenure track positions are sustained by the hope of eventually securing a position with some prospect of permanence. In long-range terms, there is no evidence that the abolition of tenure at the University of Illinois would really improve the morale of faculty members at any rank or in any kind of appointment, including appointments not leading to tenure.
Since some form of job protection exists in many other walks of life, another way to
ask the question is to ponder what sort of provisions for job security would replace
tenure if tenure itself were to be abolished. We will return to this point in the section
below (III.b) in which we cite alternatives to tenure. Here we will anticipate only to the
extent of hypothesizing two alternatives to tenure: (a) a virtually automatic guarantee of
job security after a brief probationary period, along the lines of some civil service
model, and (b) a system of indefinitely protracted insecurity, with perpetual reviews and
Would the first of these alternatives be an incentive to improved faculty performance?
Would the second assure initiative and boldness? that is, Would faculty members living in
perpetual fear that their very livelihood was at stake be more effective teachers, more
thoughtful scholars, or more dedicated citizens of their institution in the absence of a
tenure system? The numerous recorded instances of institutions at which academic freedom
has been under fire, and where the curriculum as well as the status of individual faculty
members can be redefined by administrative or governing board fiat, do
not suggest that the quality of teaching and learning is affected for the better.
ii. Can Tenure Conflict with the Goal of Institutional Quality?
An objection to the foregoing arguments might be formulated along the following lines.
First of all, it is asserted, only the most Neanderthal of the University's critics
would question the importance of academic freedom. Much of the preceding argument, it
might be said, depends on the truly special case, the draconian exception -- the
dysfunctional institution run like a presidential satrapy, the sectarian institution
exacting a high measure of doctrinal conformity, or perhaps some almost unimaginable
Hobbesian academic jungle in which all faculty contracts, like the lives of those who hold
them, are nasty, brutish, and short. Thus the argument is not really relevant to the more
workaday situation in which the possession of tenure fails to guarantee continued quality
Second, the possibility of non-performance (the argument might go) is implicit in the very way tenure is awarded. That is, the mere fact that following an exhaustive probationary period the faculty member is faced with such a dramatic moment at which his or her entire future career is decided has the effect of inviting post-tenure somnolence, a relaxation of the very will even to continue to meet the high standards that has led the person to secure tenure in the first place.
Regrettably, the publicity given to the occasional faculty member who proclaims, "Now that I've got tenure, I can do anything I like," does little to enhance the public approbation of tenure. Nor, though it is a necessary aspect of the counterargument, will it necessarily satisfy the critics to say that the process by which one secures tenure is so demanding as a process of professional socialization that it inculcates those salutary habits of mind and work that will persist long past the award of tenure. As we know all too well, the academic profession has always had its share of instances in which tenure, regarded as a form of job security, seems to be interpreted as freedom from accountability. That such instances are rare -- and certainly we have found no evidence that they are frequent at the University of Illinois -- does not mean that they have not existed. That they are, however, caused by tenure as a system, rather than a lapse of judgment in the awarding of tenure, or the failure to monitor colleagual performance adequately after its award or to offer incentives for performance improvement, is far from demonstrated.
While public perceptions of unproductive faculty focus on those who are regarded as dull teachers or teachers uninterested in or neglectful of undergraduate education, a more sophisticated version of the foregoing argument has been offered by some within academe with respect to the award of tenure in certain highly competitive fields, particularly the sciences, in which an early record of research productivity may be followed by a loss of competitive "edge," either because of a slackening of the person's own interests and energy or because of external funding patterns that may favor the junior researcher just getting started on a major project. How, it is asked, can tenure possibly be considered conducive to quality control when it entrenches less productive senior faculty at the cost, at least in tight economic times, of a sufficient number of available tenured slots for their "more promising" juniors?
Inherent in this argument is the premise that once they receive tenure, faculty members do only one thing -- in this case, original research -- and that they can offer nothing else to the university in the other areas of teaching or service which presumably figured in their tenure and any subsequent promotion. Also, though less obviously, implied is the assumption that any such slackening of productivity is permanent rather than seasonal, irreversible in its effects, and that it is hopeless to expect that a new research program might once again reignite a career. Finally, in its most extreme form, the argument might well be read to imply that tenure should be held hostage to those same external funding patterns that are themselves subject to a host of unpredictable political, not just scientific, constraints. One might even reasonably ask whether, seeing a flock of demoralized seniors being let go, a probationary faculty member would feel encouraged to remain in a career that might bring him or her to the same pass fifteen or twenty years down the road.
The short answer to the question raised in the subtitle of this section is, "Bad tenure decisions can indeed work against institutional excellence." In our view, the demonstrated (but, agreed, not inevitable) connection between tenure and excellence must be informed by the realization that tenure is a beginning, not an end; an obligation, not an attainment which relieves one of further responsibilities to the institution. It is, in one sense, a bargain struck jointly by the institution and the faculty member, a common commitment of mutual support, in which the faculty member, besides acknowledging his or her duties to the larger profession of which he or she is a part, willingly places his strengths also in the service -- not the servitude -- of the institutional mission in which he or she is a citizen -- an "officer," as a later section of this report puts it.
iii. Does Tenure Encourage a Class System?
In the section that follows, we differentiate two issues. The first has to do with a
relationship which has long been the object of attention among both defenders and critics
of tenure. The second issue is one that has become highlighted in more recent attacks on
the tenure system, especially from some faculty members themselves, and is indeed part of
a larger social trend, evident in the industrial and corporate worlds, toward the
increasing employment of temporary or part-time persons who at an earlier period of our
history might have had a reasonable expectation of security in their positions.
1. The relationship between tenured and probationary (tenure-track) faculty
Critics of the tenure system often allege that the effect of distinguishing between those faculty members who are probationary and those who are tenured leaves the first group effectively without protection. If academic freedom is, after all, a desirable precondition of faculty work, why does tenure grant it only to a particular class? And does not the very perpetuation of such a two-class system undercut the goal of institutional excellence?
For the purposes of the discussion on this single point, the burden of proof, two points (not, however, the only ones relevant to this particular complaint) need to be made. First, a non-tenured faculty member is entitled to the same degree of protection enjoyed by tenured faculty when any action is taken to terminate him or her during the course of a term appointment: this is, for all practical purposes, a "dismissal" subject to the same burden of proof as action taken against a tenured faculty member. But as Van Alstyne acknowledges (p. 332), this argument is not enough. Is it not possible that "the anxiety of prospective non-renewal may be seen to chill in the appointee's academic freedom in a manner unequaled for those members of the faculty with tenure"?
Here, it is not quite true -- or should not be the case -- that a probationary faculty member is without institutional recourse. Suppose that a non-tenured faculty member, secure from in-term dismissal, is nonetheless facing a negative promotion and tenure decision. To deny the institution any opportunity to make a judgment of that faculty member on the merits is effectively to eviscerate the whole argument for the probationary period as a time in which colleagues may reach a reasoned judgment of the quality of an untenured colleague.
But suppose the probationary faculty member alleges that he or she has been
discriminated against, or that his or her academic freedom has been violated in any way,
or that the decision has not been based on adequate consideration of his or her full
record. University of Illinois policy, consistent with institutional norms elsewhere,
allows intramural appeal in such a case. The burden of proof rests upon the individual
contesting a notice of nonrenewal to establish at least a prima facie case either
that reasons violative of academic freedom contributed to the proposed decision or that
adequate consideration was not given to the merits of his or her reappointment.
The development of such policy represents a continuing attempt to accommodate and rationalize the inevitable tension between the right of colleagues to render a qualitative judgment on a candidate for tenure and the right of the probationary faculty member to an expectation of fairness, both in the procedure by which the tenure decision is reached and in the substance of that decision. Thus it ought to be stressed that process is "due" the probationary faculty member; but, given his or her probationary status, the process due is not identical with the process due to dismiss a tenured professor of long service who has earned a presumption of continuing competence.
It is, of course, quite possible to argue that tenure creates an essentially unequal footing between those who have it and those who do not, and that the system does not address the question of faculty orthodoxy (that is, a dominant mode of inquiry within a department, to which a probationary faculty member may feel he or she has fallen victim) with anything like the stringency with which it erects a bulwark of resistance to outside intrusions on academic freedom. The question then becomes one of what alternative systems can be devised to insure both fairness and quality, whether indeed there is any other middle ground between the extension of the appropriate due process protections to all faculty and the removal of those protections from those who presently have them. Once again, it becomes difficult to conclude with any confidence that the elimination of tenure would necessarily resolve the problem of internal unfairness.
Here we must acknowledge one potential cost of the stringency of the tenure code at an institution like the University of Illinois. Whereas the tenured faculty member may indeed feel "freed" by the nature of a guarantee of continuing appointment to embark on riskier or less immediately rewardable long-range work, the nature of the probationary period is such that it often does not seem to accord this same professional freedom to the non-tenured. That is, the system may operate in such a way as actively to discourage the kind of work that may bear fruition only at a much later date. Many would allege that, as administered, the present system puts a premium on the "quick fix," the easily-completed short article or monograph. They cite numerous and all too believable anecdotes in which the probationary faculty member asks a department head, "How many articles will it take to get me tenure?"
We will revisit another aspect of this issue when we discuss the length of the probationary period later in this report. Certainly mere quantification of productivity is not synonymous with a considered judgment of quality, which requires not only a review of the documentable record at the time of a tenure decision but a projection of the candidate's promise and future performance. To the extent that probationary faculty members receive merely mechanical advice, they receive bad advice.
We are at a loss, however, to support the view that such a solution as lengthening the probationary period would solve this particular problem. It seems to us at least arguably possible that it would merely "up the ante" proportionate to the extension of the probation. That is, the longer the uncertainty (or, to put it positively, the greater the generosity with which second or third chances would be offered), the greater the presumption that truly major work would be completed prior to the award of tenure.
Finally, although tenured faculty themselves may not always be sufficiently mindful of
the fact, it is really they who are responsible for the protection of the probationary
faculty member. To their own freedom to speak in an appropriate professional manner must
be conjoined the obligation to make sure others have access to the same arena of academic
freedom, and enjoy the same ability to join a debate without fear of reprisals. To say, of
course, that tenured faculty members have this obligation is far from saying that they
have always willingly shouldered it. Where a probationary faculty member falls, or feels
he or she has fallen, victim to a dominant departmental orthodoxy, there must exist an
avenue of recourse beyond the department where his or her allegation can be tested.
2. The increase in non-tenure-track appointments
A bad job market, coupled (at many institutions) with a tendency to convert tenured
into non-tenure-track lines at the time a senior faculty member has retired, has led to
skepticism among some probationary faculty about tenure in principle, especially when they
perceive a situation in which tenured professors do not seem to be subject to the same
continuing scrutiny as they are. Younger faculty, and not a few of their seniors, believe that the glut of
new Ph.D.'s in some fields has led to a ratcheting-up of standards to a level at which
tenure seems ever more difficult to achieve. And yet even to obtain a tenure-track
appointment places the probationary faculty member arguably at least one step above those
who are unable to secure more than one-year contracts and who become a kind of nomad
class. It is not surprising, however, that some probationary, tenure-track faculty may
feel they have more in common with the nomads -- whose ranks, after all, they may be
compelled to join -- than with the tenured faculty.
Before proceeding further, however, we need to make it clear that not all persons on
non-tenure-track appointments belong to the category of "nomad." Some may have
other careers and hold adjunct appointments simply because they enjoy the opportunity to
do some teaching in their own field of interest and employment. Others are clinical
faculty who assume some degree of reemployability (that is, a renewal of contract)
contingent on their ability to generate income. Still others may have been appointed to
work for the duration of a research project and are supported by funds derived from the
grant brought in by a tenured or tenure-track faculty member. And still others may hold
the title of lecturer, or even (as is occasionally the case at the University of Illinois)
"academic professional" status and yet carry out some faculty functions,
such as oversight of teaching in multi-section required lower-division courses. Many
persons in this last class acquire, over time, a reasonable expectation of contract
renewal ad infinitum.
All of these classes of non-tenure-track faculty deserve our attention. As our fourth
recommendation below will make clear, all of them require further study, and our remarks
here should be viewed as tentative and provisional until that study is undertaken.
In our view, the tenured faculty in particular have a strong, and yet often
inadequately exercised, obligation to pose the question of why the growth -- for growth it
is -- of such appointments has been tolerated, and to ask at what point that growth may
start to threaten institutional quality. By this we emphatically do not mean that persons
in non-tenure-track positions lack quality; many of them provide skills of very high
quality indeed. What we mean is that the growth of a corps of such persons may represent
an institutional failure to think through the implications of allowing a significant
number of non-tenure-track faculty to deliver basic instruction. In other words, where
"nomads" are teaching required courses, or where the educational responsibility
for "Language 101" is vested in a person with no claim to permanence, however
great his or her longevity, what signal are we sending to the outside world about the
importance we place on that instruction?
It will not suffice to say what is surely true: that the recourse to such appointments
reflects a declining level of public support for higher education, and that even drastic
increases in faculty teaching assignments would not finally pick up the "slack"
necessitated by continuing high enrollments. The ethical problem the existence of many
such appointments poses to the tenured faculty is the temptation to perceive them as a
sort of "safety valve" for the tenure system. The oversight and support of the
tenured faculty for adequate working conditions and some reasonable guarantee of
employment stability is essential for the well-being of those who hold non-tenure-track
appointments. If such persons are regarded as merely a convenience enabling the
"regular" faculty to proceed about their work of teaching, research, and
service, then we have already implicitly sacrificed a significant portion of the moral
argument for the tenure system.
The withholding of tenure from many such appointments is often argued on two grounds.
First, it is suggested, what arguments for academic freedom exist where the duties
of a non-tenure-track faculty member are essentially confined, for example, to basic
instruction in Chemistry or French? What possible issues of academic freedom can be raised
with respect to the inculcation of formulae, which are obviously matters of fact, or the
mysteries of the irregular verb?
This argument proceeds, of course, from a basic misunderstanding of the nature of
academic freedom: that it has only to do with the freedom of the teacher to introduce
controversial subject matter in the classroom. But in fact, as we will argue particularly
with respect to the question of "constitutional" protections (Section IIIa
below), more than that is encompassed by the term. If freedom of expression extends to the
larger academic environment and to issues of institutional policy, then it is difficult to
see how any of the non-tenure-track faculty we have mentioned -- whether they teach or do
other kinds of work -- are somehow exempt from the umbrella of protections enjoyed by the
tenured faculty. The argument need not be confined to those engaged in elementary
instruction. A clinical faculty member making hospital rounds may be highly vulnerable
where disagreements over diagnosis or medication are involved. This does not argue
automatically for the extension of tenure to all such appointments; it does, however, call
both for tenured faculty oversight and some reasonable expectation of reappointment
conditional on performance. At the very least, multi-year appointments in such cases may
be justified on a carefully-controlled and defined basis without, we think, necessitating
the fear that any such appointment is ipso facto a threat to the larger tenure
A second argument sometimes given against the proffering of tenure in such cases is
premised on what might be called the "indivisibility" of tenure: that is, that
tenure is requisite only when what is at stake is the performance of the interrelated
duties of teaching, research, and service, and evaluation on that tripartite basis. Why,
is it asked, should certain individuals be granted tenure who have not fulfilled either
the second or third (or both) of these functions at the University of Illinois? After all,
University policy effectively denies promotion and tenure to those tenure-track faculty
who have not published; on what basis could tenure then be offered to other categories of
faculty for whom publication is not only not expected but may not, in practical terms,
even be an option?
This argument, to the degree that it acknowledges the potential for inequity in an
extension of tenure to some such persons, has a color of rationality about it. On the
other hand, it overlooks the fact that indeed some non-tenure track faculty do carry out
the multiple duties associated with faculty roles and responsibilities. They may (indeed,
increasingly do ) hold doctoral degrees; they teach, they may sit on curricular
committees, they may (against great odds in terms of time and expense of spirit) manage to
carry out some kind of scholarly program. If, in fact, there is no need for their
services on a permanent basis, owing to a sufficient number of faculty in their field in
the tenured and tenure-track ranks (though they may meet one or more departmental needs on
an interim basis), then at least some enhanced measure of security --through such options
as a multi-year contract , appropriate salary and/or a "Visiting" rank
appropriate to their experience --may be called for. Fairness, it must be added, would
also call for a clear understanding of the limits of the appointment; that is, justice is
not done to the individual by an indefinite perpetuation of one-year contracts.
If tenure, in short, is really as important as we think it is in University life, then a thoughtful examination of these issues beyond the confines of this report needs to be taken up by the University of Illinois faculty as a whole. Just as much as probationary faculty members, non-tenure-track faculty members are entitled to the protections of academic freedom, for which tenured faculty are, or should be, the first line of defense. A willingness to tolerate the growth of the class of non-tenure-track faculty, without ever asking ourselves squarely why we do so if tenure is important to us, would truly confirm that an unexamined academic life, whether or not it is worth living, is surely not worthy of defense.
d. The Faculty Member as an "Officer" of the Institution
In a passage we have already quoted from the 1940 Statement, we are told that "college and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution." What precisely does this last term mean, and how might it offer some guidance in ongoing debates over the role of tenure?
A first step toward answering this question is to restate what the roles and responsibilities of faculty members actually are. As citizens, they enjoy the same constitutional rights as any other group in American society. Our focus here, however, is on their professional obligations. Faculty members are "members of a learned profession" in the sense that they have duties and obligations that transcend the boundaries of their own campus to peers in a particular discipline, wherever they may be located. As "officers" of a particular educational institution, they have traditionally been expected to engage in a triad of duties: as teachers concerned with the learning experience of their students, as researchers whose work will (or should) bring distinction to their institution, and as participants in the actual governance of the institution. In this last role, the faculty must have the freedom to speak out on institutional policy and must have a role in selecting those whose primary task is to administer the affairs of the college or university in which they teach.
The term "officer" has a very different connotation from the term "employee." It is sometimes difficult for those outside the academic world to understand that a research university is not run on the same principles as those that govern a corporation. Faculty members are professionals in somewhat the same sense as doctors and lawyers: that is, they have undergone a rigorous course of training in a particular discipline. What distinguishes them from doctors and lawyers, aside from that relatively small group of faculty whose particular skills and interests make it possible for them to practice their profession (or some aspect of it) as entrepreneurs, is that they are relatively dependent on the institutional context to carry out their work. A professor of civil engineering can presumably enter private practice; the options for a professor of history are much more limited. For most faculty, in any case, the carrying out of their teaching and research missions is possible only within the structure of a college or university. In matters pertaining to their own discipline, they are the best situated to make decisions affecting instruction, curriculum, and research in that discipline.
The particular nature of an institution of higher education makes it neither practical
nor desirable to see it as an arena in which all decisions are made at the top and carried
out by the "workers" or the "employees." A closer analogy, perhaps,
might be drawn between faculty members and shareholders in a business; like shareholders,
the faculty has a stake in the outcome of certain decisions and in the quality of
Academic governance is, in fact, a fluid (and to the eyes of some, an excessively untidy) set of relationships. In the shared governance form represented by the Urbana and Chicago campuses, it is best described as a set of activities in which different components of the University -- the Board of Trustees, the President, central and campus administrations, the faculty, and the students -- each carry out certain activities appropriate to their interest, their competence, and the stake they have in it. Many of these activities are a form of joint effort, involving cooperation among two or more groups; others are uniquely or chiefly the province of a particular group.
This description suggests something less than an assertion of unchecked faculty power.
It would be as unwise to argue that all decisions in a university flow from the bottom up
as to declare that they flow from the top down. One might say that the medieval idea of
the guild survives in the notion of the faculty as a corporate body setting its own
standards in those areas, such as curriculum and the selection of colleagues subject to a
common standard of disciplinary competence, for which it has primary responsibility.
At the same time other groups within the university have a stake in the outcome of faculty judgments in these areas, just as the faculty has a stake in the fiscal as well as educational soundness of the institution. The faculty, therefore, is only partly a self-governing guild. The faculty is also a body that interacts with those others -- students, administration, governing board, and through the board the larger public -- who have legitimate concerns in the welfare of the college or university. Not only must the faculty take their views into account, but faculty priorities may not always prevail in the larger institutional arena.
This citation of faculty roles and responsibility also acknowledges that the governing board of a college or university, such as the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, is normally the ultimate legal authority in that institution. Both the governing board and chief administrative officer may from time to time have to overrule faculty recommendations even in areas in which faculty judgment normally prevails. Even within the faculty, the academic department is not necessarily the sole locus of authority regarding the retention or dismissal of one of its own: departmental personnel recommendations are subject to oversight, in the first instance by a faculty committee with "a broader charge," ultimately by the administration and board. In the most extreme circumstance, the dismissal for cause of a tenured faculty member -- let us say a physicist -- it does not require another physicist to make an informed judgment on a charge of unethical behavior; here the body politic of the faculty as a whole can and should reasonably assert itself. But a distinction in any well-run college or university needs to be made between legal authority and the prevailing practices of academic common law, and between the general obligations of the president and board an>
Transfer interrupted!a faculty member's peers.
Under these conditions, faculty tenure involves the assumption of certain responsibilities for the academic operation of the institution. Tenure may be viewed as bestowing a leadership role in determining academic policies, conditions of faculty employment, and other matters related to the educational function of the institution. At a research university like the University of Illinois, this is especially pronounced because the research demands placed on a non-tenured faculty member, whose very future in the institution is at stake, will often lead deans and departments heads to insist -- we think wisely -- that during the probationary period that person not assume a heavy "service" role. But even the non-tenured faculty member is an officer of the University in the broadest sense of the word, and bears the same obligation as the tenured faculty member to observe ethical standards of conduct.
Thus far we have focused on describing tenure as it has been classically portrayed and defended. Merely to restate these verities, however, with or without approving nods, is not enough, for the fact is that in many ways the current environment in which tenure is being debated has changed, even if the arguments pro and con are not dramatically different from what they ever were. In the section that follows we will attempt to outline what seem to us the major changes in the academic climate, and some of the consequences those changes could have for the debate.
II. The Relevance of Tenure in Changing Times
Attacks on tenure tend to escalate in bad economic times. It was largely unchallenged in the 1960's, during the employment boom in higher education after the depredations of the McCarthy era. Funds for research were pouring into the universities, there was no shortage of positions for new Ph.D.'s, and new campuses, like then-Sangamon State and Governors State in Illinois, were springing up almost overnight. There was no particular reason for the development of class lines between tenured and non-tenured because the prospects for securing tenure were generally so favorable; in a seller's market, tenure was an inducement to a qualified faculty member who could always move if dissatisfied with his or her present academic post.
About 1968 or 1969, when the inevitable but unanticipated downturn arrived, tenure came under fire once more. Economic considerations were only part of the picture, admittedly; the idea suffered some strains during the unpopular Vietnam war, at a time when some younger faculty in particular mobilized to express their objections and were often visible in campus protests and sit-ins. Yet another challenge to tenure came from a small but highly publicized band of new experimental colleges which declared that they would operate collegially without a formal system of tenure. Higher education leaders, for the most part, resisted frontal attacks on tenure, and such documents as the previously cited Keast Commission report of 1973, the studies of tenure at Harvard and the University of Utah, and remarks by such leaders as Yale's President Kingman Brewster, while not claiming that the tenure system had reached a state of perfection, essentially reaffirmed that system in broad outline.
More today than in the 1970ís, however, the professions generally are under attack as bastions of privilege and self-indulgence. Not just faculty members in higher education but schoolteachers in the K-12 system, lawyers, physicians, and journalists are all experiencing public criticism. In the spring of 1996, the furor which surrounded a federal judge's disposition of a search and seizure case evoked strong suggestions from the White House that that judge resign, and a contender for the Republican nomination declared his opposition to the whole idea of judicial tenure as embodied in the United States Constitution, a system whose theory shares much with academic tenure inasmuch as it argues the need for an independent judiciary insulated from public pressure on matters of specific professional competence.
Some of the attacks are also emanating from what might be called the Brave New World syndrome, the argument here being not so much that tenure is an obstacle to change as that it is quite simply less and less relevant. It is claimed, for example, that corporate research labs devoted to quicker "results" will replace the kind of basic and applied scientific research that universities have traditionally undertaken. An older thread of criticism, to the effect that colleges and universities need to be "shaken up" with the adoption of business-based models in the interests of greater "efficiency," has reappeared in the current debate over corporate restructuring and downsizing, even though a growing body of management literature is raising questions as to whether, in the long run, downsizing is good for the "bottom line."
Thus far, of course, even the severest critics of tenure have avoided arguing in favor of summary dismissals, and would respond that what is called for is merely change in the direction of managerial flexibility. But, they might add, if faculty are indeed "officers" of their educational institution, then why, any more than other middle-level managers, should they be immune to downsizing measures?
The injunction to the effect that a university ought to be "run like a
business" seems suspect at the outset. One of the most widespread criticisms of many
manifestations of the American business mentality is that it prefers the short-term fix
over long-term thinking, the quick financial solution to the longer process of building a
complex organization. The latter-day history of American railroads, as well as recent
events in the banking, automobile manufacturing, and personal electronics industries would
hardly seem to offer positive models for the maintenance of organizational health.
Significant portions of industry have failed in recent years, whereas corporate models in
some other countries stressing employer-employee loyalty have secured a leading position
in world markets.
Teaching and research at universities, unlike prevailing models of American corporate behavior, build a solid foundation for the long term. Tenure reflects a sophisticated understanding of how to run a major, ultra-modern business organization of overwhelming complexity in an extremely demanding environment over time.
It is important to remember that tenure provides one kind of employment umbrella which business cannot always, or certainly will not inevitably, provide. Tenure offers a strong incentive for engaging in a long, arduous undertaking in which the "bottom line" is a secondary consideration if it figures at all; tenure also permits and indeed encourages risk-taking behavior. We allude here, of course, to risk-taking in the best sense: the kind of experimentation which requires innovative skills and a focus on long-term benefits rather than short-term results. It is doubtless not impossible to find analogous working conditions in industry, but they are almost certainly rare.
Critics of the tenure system, of course, are not all located outside the academy.
The American Association for Higher Education, which numbers both faculty and administrators among its members, has announced with great eclat a "New Pathways Project" which will take a critical look at faculty careers in the twenty-first century. Though its proponents deny that they want to eliminate tenure, claiming only that they want it to be placed as one issue among many in a changing academic setting, one focus of the study is alternative forms of faculty employment. AAHE leaders frequently cite medical school deans as "leaders" in charting the course of the university of the future, since changing patterns of health care have generated new and complex pressures on academic health science centers which seem to some to pose almost insuperable obstacles to the continued implementation of traditional tenure. The advent of partnerships between campuses and industry or campuses and other segments of society (politics, agriculture, and the like) has brought into question the meaning of tenure when the work a faculty member does may be evaluated by its usefulness as part of that institutional linkage. It has even been suggested that the advent of the "virtual university," with electronic instruction parceled out across state boundaries in an attempt to capture the educational market, may render the entire traditional academic career pattern, including tenure, a thing of the past.
It is our view, however, that an equally compelling case for tenure can be made on the
basis of these very interactions as well as the increasingly complex nature of the
structure of universities themselves. The classical case for tenure as a defense of
academic freedom is if anything heightened rather than diminished by these new linkages.
Thus an expert on welfare reform may find himself or herself stepping into a hornet's nest
of competing agendas, political pressure groups, and the desire for state legislative
action. And the highly charged political environment extends well beyond the social
sciences. Investigation into the potential genetic basis for violence has already resulted
in a political maelstrom. Fetal researchers may be carrying out work in a highly-charged
political environment in which the very ethical nature of the work itself may be subject
Beyond this, there are other reasons why tenure can be viewed not only in such classic terms but as a form of investment. A modern large-scale public university of the stature and complexity of the University of Illinois operates as a major node in a complex web of organizations. The result has been described as a "mega-university," with complex grants agreements and contractual arrangements, research centers, consulting agreements, consortial arrangements, health care services, technical assistance institutes and experimental stations. The heightened interaction of the university with the corporate and governmental sectors has meant the conduct of complex activities, entailing great sums of money, in a dynamic environment where error is extremely costly, perhaps irreversible.
The new web in which the University of Illinois, as one such mega-university, operates has meant that enormous reliance must be placed on the senior faculty who provide expertise and continuity in a highly competitive environment. The situation does not call for traditionally narrow, reactive, time-consuming, and hierarchical control of organizational initiatives and decisions, but trust in a group of faculty positioned to provide leadership. The work of such a university is at the edge of knowledge where the safety of routinization is neither available nor appropriate. Faculty leadership takes the form of clusters of expertise which defy traditional hierarchical structures. Tenure is an acknowledgment that that leadership is creating the future of the university. The award of tenure is in this context a process of leadership recruitment.
The essential feature of tenure as protected speech from an academic perspective is complemented by the freedom it bestows to lead an institution organizationally. When the experts cannot freely speak out, the organization is under pressure to avoid midcourse corrections that might be upsetting to the "authorities" but could be essential for survival, as disasters ranging from the Titanic to the Challenger space shuttle clearly indicate. It is the very interactive nature of the mega-university with various "publics" outside its boundaries that requires not the evisceration, but the maintenance, of a system of faculty tenure.
With respect to the imminence of the "virtual university," it is the assumption, no doubt a parochial one, of the Seminar on Tenure that most of us will be conducting the major part of our work for the foreseeable future on actual campuses of the University of Illinois, surrounded by students and colleagues in the flesh. But even if this were not the case, it is not axiomatically evident that a move in the direction of new media in and of itself changes the fundamental issues associated with the award of tenure. Quality control of courses delivered to remote sites, for example, or other programs requiring new kinds of audience interaction, will be as much a faculty concern as it has ever been under more traditional models of delivery. We are at a loss to know why considerations of academic freedom will not be equally applicable in this new setting.
More fundamental to the future of academic freedom and tenure than the national
"conversations" on tenure taking place under the auspices of the AAHE are
certain recent developments in the climate of college and university campuses. A
heightened emphasis on the need for a greater sensitivity to racial and ethnic
distinctions and to the status of women students and women faculty members on campus,
including the right to carry out one's work free from verbal or physical harassment and
specifically from various forms of hate speech, in many respects derives from a laudable
recognition that the community of learning requires civility and mutual respect in
discourse and in activities both inside and outside the classroom.
At the same time, the imposition of specific codes of speech and conduct, and of
possible sanctions for their transgression, has always the potential to chill the free
exchange of ideas on campus. Often procedures for dealing with the violation of such codes
are sometimes established side-by-side with existing procedures for dealing with faculty
misconduct and may infringe on the principle of peer review, as for example when a mixed
faculty-student-staff panel is convened to review a charge of sexual harassment brought
against a faculty member. The potential for thereby short-circuiting or abridging the
fundamental guarantees of academic freedom and tenure has not always been sufficiently
weighed. A climate of "political correctness," infused by the "culture
wars" now raging both inside and outside academe, would seem if anything to make a
review of the tenure system more timely than ever. We will revert to this question in the
Conclusion to this report.
In 1964, economist Fritz Machlup, in an article setting forth the case for tenure,
listed several objections that had been lodged against the tenure system, by critics both
inside and outside the academy. The outlines of the case against tenure have not fundamentally changed over
the last thirty years, although new twists in the argument are apparent with the emergence
of new concerns. Some of what follows hence restates concerns articulated nearly a quarter
of a century ago by Machlup; others represent our additions. The first four represent
continuing, and major, charges against tenure as an institution. The second four are
somewhat more recent in origin, less drastic in nature, more intimately related to
changing circumstances in the job market, and somewhat more reflective
of what seems to be a public reaction against the priorities of a research university.
1. Tenure makes it hard to get rid of faculty "deadwood." The institution is thus unable to upgrade its faculty within a reasonable period of time. Some deadwood may result from mistakes made at the time of award of tenure. Other may come into being because, once awarded tenure, faculty members no longer have any incentive to develop. They thus become, in Machlup's paraphrase of this charge, "lazy, stale, and dull."
This argument begins with the assumption that deadwood is not only a problem, but indeed a problem of such dimensions that it represents a major budgetary drain sufficient to impede collective institutional progress through the appointment of vital new faculty hires. No institution of higher education, however perfectly administered, is without its problem faculty. The question might be broken out this way: Are there incentives in place to rejuvenate faculty who have somehow "fallen by the wayside," or to offer early retirement in cases where such rejuvenation seems frankly impossible? Is tenure to blame, or is the question rather one of the administration of the tenure system?
Rather than engaging in a wholesale search-and-destroy mission designed to prune out faculty "deadwood," especially given the imprecision of the term itself, we suggest that it is more profitable to ask what it is that motivates faculty members to do their work well. We suggest further that where deadwood does exist, it might be equally profitable to ask to what extent that represents an institutional failure: a failure by colleagues, in the first instance, and others charged with faculty personnel policy in the second, to identify signs of burn-out or acute personal crises early on and to take corrective measures.
Most faculty work, after all, is conducted in full view of the consuming public, i.e. teaching and publication. Few professions are subject to such persistent, if informal, evaluation. Incentives and disincentives are well-established: for example, the annual salary review, at which time a faculty member is called upon to list his or her accomplishments for the preceding year. Where corrective action is called for, an institution like the University of Illinois has ample opportunity to take it: e.g. in the denial of raises, sabbaticals, released time for research, or assignment to advanced seminars. But we find it unlikely, in the climate of an intensely competitive research university, that any faculty member genuinely believes he or she can step back from the fray and subside contentedly into late middle-age somnolence. This assumption seems to us far less credible an extrapolation from known human behavior than the likelihood that the unproductive faculty member would welcome either retirement or a chance to develop new skills or interests that would serve both that faculty member and the university.
2. The incredible difficulty and associated costs of firing faculty with tenure makes it virtually impossible to discipline those faculty who have been guilty of unethical behavior.
In a sense this is a variant of the "deadwood" argument, since in both cases tenure is held accountable for the difficulty of firing faculty. Our response is that this is true with respect to both "deadwood" and those who behave unethically, and rightly so. When tenure is awarded scrupulously and selectively, it represents the best informed judgment that a probationary faculty member's senior colleagues can make about him or her at a given point in time. That such a judgment could never be in error, of course, defies all our knowledge about human fallibility; that it is always a valid predictor either of future productivity or future behavior equally flies in the face of statistical probability. But once rendered, a reversal of that judgment ought to require an equally exacting standard of proof and the most rigorous form of due process, carried out by the faculty member's peers. To the complaint, in other words, that it is "too difficult" to fire tenured faculty, our response is that it ought to be difficult, not impossible, to be sure, but that it ought to meet the burden-of-proof standard.
Tenure, of course, does not shield a faculty member from penalties in the criminal and
civil courts. But we acknowledge that there are instances in which it may be equally, if
not more, necessary for faculty peers to take disciplinary action, whether to dismiss or
to impose a lesser sanction proportionate to the offense. The occasions for such actions
need not be confined to those instances of misconduct which fall under the scrutiny of the
courts. As we have said earlier in this report, the interests of the faculty in
self-discipline may on occasion be grounded quite differently from the issue of what
constitutes legally proscribed behavior.
That the disciplinary process may be -- ought to be -- deliberate and thoughtful does not mean that it ought to be intolerably dilatory and cumbersome. We do feel impelled to note, however, that it is not uncommon on many campuses that the pace of a dismissal or the administration of another sanction has been governed at least partly by the concerns of administration and legal counsel over the liability of the institution in the event a sanction is levied, and not solely by the understandable reluctance of a faculty review committee to face the facts and discipline "one of their own." Before one accepts the justice of a blanket charge that faculty fail to police their own ranks, it is important to examine whether they have been permitted by their administrations to do so.
Finally, it ought to be pointed out that it is more than probable that many such cases across the country are quietly resolved without recourse to a highly charged and public proceeding: through negotiated resignation, early retirement, or reassignment to other duties. This is surely true at the University of Illinois as well. Unfortunately, of course, from the public relations perspective, the very fact that such resolutions are negotiated means that quite properly they cannot then be publicly adduced as evidence of self-policing. If the facts are clear, resignations and early retirements may be negotiated. Where a case is "on the margins" and the facts are in dispute, that is precisely where an impartial tribunal of the faculty member's peers should be a requisite. Procedurally this may indeed be cumbersome, but only if the sole alternative to continuance is summary dismissal. We address this question separately in III.b.7 below.
Is the University of Illinois without recourse in dealing with faculty misconduct? Article X of the Statutes provide for dismissal for cause, a form of suspension ("reassignment of duties") in certain circumstances while a hearing is in progress, and establish a set of procedures. The Statutes are silent on the subject of sanctions lesser than dismissal (a point to which we return in Section III.b. below, but they do not specifically exclude faculty/administrative discretion to deal with other cases, and sometimes a serious case may be dealt with through a negotiated retirement or resignation. On the affirmative side, the Policies and Procedures on Academic Integrity in Research and Publication and the Policy on the Conflict of Commitment and Interest (approved by the Board of Trustees in March 1996) are examples of faculty efforts at self-regulation.
To the extent that faculty colleagues fail to assert a necessary professional standard
in dealing with cases of colleagual misconduct, whether through timidity or distaste or
reluctance to engage in a time-consuming and necessarily unpleasant process, we
acknowledge that in the eyes of the public the case for tenure seems inevitably weakened.
As a public institution, the University of Illinois has obligations to the taxpaying
public. Demonstrated incompetence, refusal to cooperate with reasonable requests related
to the carrying-out of the educational program, contempt for teaching obligations -- any
of these may, depending on the circumstances, require vigorous action, whether to
institute proceedings toward dismissal, or to apply a sanction short of dismissal. It
should be made clear, however, that the administration, through the President or his
deputy, is required to take action in such instances, and the faculty to adjudicate. The
burden of bringing charges and hearing them is a shared one. Rather like the presumption
of innocence in American law, tenure requires us to balance the
prospect that an occasional offender will go unpunished against the danger of a general
weakening of the fabric of protections for all.
3. Tenure makes it hard for an institution to change programmatic direction.
This argument focuses less on unproductive individuals than on the restraints which
tenure is seen as imposing at the institutional level. Such restraints, it is sometimes
claimed, put the institution at a disadvantage when it wants to develop new programs but,
because of tight financial resources, can do so only if it simultaneously withdraws its
support from programs now deemed less central to a changing institutional mission or,
perhaps, simply less popular. Tenure here, that is, is seen not so much as an individual
as it is a collective obstacle to change.
A reasonable approach to this question would begin by acknowledging that indeed -- as
with the removal of unproductive faculty -- tenure does seem to slow the speed with which
"corrective" action can be taken. First of all, the faculty of an institution as
a whole must acquiesce in, even if it does not always initiate, a change of programmatic
focus. Such a change, when imposed merely by administrative fiat, amounts to an override
of faculty judgment in an area, curriculum and instruction, which is primarily a matter of
Assuming that the test of faculty participation has been met, it is still necessary for
all parties to the decision to find a balance between competing interests: continuity
versus change, healthy growth on the one hand and an essentially market-driven model of
the academic universe on the other. An existing program may have relatively few students
and yet retain a centrality in the liberal arts core; a new program may meet an emerging
need and yet, for whatever reason, fail to attract new students after an initial period of
growth. Faculty members of long standing have had opportunities aplenty to see a ìhotî
area quickly lose its attractiveness, or an area once pronounced defunct regain its
fields, e.g. professional and business studies, may experience boom-and-bust enrollment
patterns, and during a boom period have seen a rapid increase in the number of tenured and
tenure-track lines, a phenomenon that suggests the danger of over-investment in response
to what may turn out to be purely transient market trends. There is good reason to be wary
of sudden, even cataclysmic reversals of course or infatuation with possible desirable but
untested new initiatives.
Tenure here operates undeniably as a brake on change, and brakes do have a salutary
function. But universities historically are among the most resilient of social
institutions because they are just that: resilient, but not intractably resistant, to new
trends. The expansion of the curriculum, the rethinking of the "canon," and the
increasing diversity of the American student body in the twentieth century all provide
evidence of the way in which higher education has accommodated itself to new needs and new
ways of conceiving the disciplines. Our record of meeting societal needs is nothing to be
Good institutional planning, therefore, will focus on prospects for faculty retraining, for attractive early retirement options, and for focused new hires in emerging areas. Tenure, though a brake, need not finally be an obstacle to the thoughtful redirection of resources which will allow the University to respond to social needs without sacrificing its historic strengths.
4. Tenure is no longer necessary in view of the developing body of law that shows faculty successfully defending their First Amendment rights in court. Likewise there are more protections in place on the campuses themselves.
This argument derives from the fact that the United States Supreme Court has extended the First Amendment to cover free speech rights of all public employees, including the faculty of the University of Illinois. The assumption is that public employee "free speech" is coextensive with academic freedom. It is not, and upon examination, it should become clear that neither the substance nor the process of the law is an adequate substitute for tenure.
Speech, the United States Supreme Court has held, must survive a two-stage test in order to be constitutionally protected. First, the speech must be of "public concern," relating to a matter of "political, social, or other concern" to the larger community. If it is not speech of that kind, it is simply not protected. Second, even if it meets that test, it must still be weighed against any threat it poses to the maintenance of workplace discipline or of co-worker "disharmony."
Academic freedom encompasses a faculty member's teaching, research and publication, and internal utterance on matters of institutional policy and administration, whether or not such subjects are of concern to the larger community. Consequently, while some academic speech would cross the threshold of constitutional protection, other academic speech would not. For example, the courts have fairly consistently held that criticism of institutional policies or actions is not constitutionally protected because it does not sufficiently involve a matter of general "public concern."
Moreover, the exercise of academic freedom is not subject to sanction depending on whether it causes "disharmony" among listeners. The very essence of a college or university is to explore, test, and disseminate knowledge; and in the search for truth the expression of ideas that are offensive, even repugnant, must be allowed. To take a contemporary example, a researcher's investigation of the genetic basis of aggregate racial disparities in intelligence test results, though always subject to professional evaluation and potential refutation, cannot be subject to sanction on the basis of student, administration, or collegial outrage with the investigator's theory. Such is and must be the scope of protection afforded by academic freedom. Such is not the scope of protection afforded by the First Amendment.
A more sophisticated variation of the legal argument against tenure would concede the difference between academic freedom and civil free speech, as it must; but it might argue that inasmuch as the Statutes of the University of Illinois guarantee academic freedom, just as the academic community understands it, a suit may be brought in state court to vindicate any alleged violation of academic freedom resulting from the dismissal of a faculty member. This argument assumes that a civil trial -- possibly long after a discharge, and in which the former faculty member bears the burden of proof -- is an adequate substitute for an intramural hearing on the merits of a dismissal before it is effected. It is not.
The prospect of the delay and cost, emotional and financial, attendant on educating a judge or jury as to the meaning of academic freedom and then proving that the "real" motivation for the dismissal lay in the faculty member's assertion of that freedom may well have a chilling effect upon the faculty member's decision to exercise that freedom at all. It is not only that the educational effort might fail, or that reasonable but erroneous or misleading grounds for the discharge might be asserted, though both may well be the case. It is also that under such a procedure no persuasive case for the dismissal need be proven at all; it would be up to the faculty member to prove a violation rather than to the administration to prove incompetence or malfeasance.
Exponents of this and the related view -- that intramurally, as well as extramurally, faculty are equivalently protected by other kinds of due process -- would also seem to be arguing against themselves when they declare that tenure makes it impossible to insure a healthy turnover of faculty and encourages deadwood. If the courts and/or institutional regulations really offer protections equal to tenure, then in theory such turnover would be no more facilitated under these new protections than it is under a traditional tenure system. One begins then to wonder what these presumably equal safeguards actually entail, and why their proponents would go to the trouble of overturning tenure if it effects the same end.
The sum of the matter, then, is that after years of service, in which the faculty member's performance has been rigorously evaluated and in consequence of which the faculty member has earned a presumption of continuing competence, the responsibility properly rests upon the administration to demonstrate the ground upon which that presumption should be rebutted. Only in such an environment will the faculty member really be free to teach, do research, and speak on those subjects that fire the strongest passions -- and on which society might most be in need of disinterested academic investigation.
5. Tenure gives faculty members a blank check to pursue their interests without any obligation to justify the social or educational utility of those interests.
Tenure in higher education may, indeed, seem unusual to the world outside academe, but it is not unique. Despite recent cutbacks and downsizing in the corporate sector, mutually-engendered expectations of job security are not unknown elsewhere, in the judiciary, the civil service, and even among unionized blue collar workers. Not infrequently some such forms of job security require a standard of continuing performance substantially less exigent than is expected from tenured faculty. Here we would simply reject the premise that tenure frees a faculty member to pursue a whimsical and self-engrossed careerism without external check or hindrance. It is true that faculty members have been known to abuse one or more of these cited privileges, and where that escapes institutional scrutiny and penalty, the problem may well lie in inadequacies of peer review and the governance system. On the other hand, we doubt that -- especially at a major research institution like the University of Illinois -- such behavior can long go unnoticed or unsanctioned, if only because in time, unproductivity -- whether in research, effective teaching, or commitment to campus service -- tells against the faculty member.
The rewards of an academic career are not primarily monetary (though some senior faculty are paid well, and usually for good reason), and seldom of short- or near-term gratification. The time to rethink a subject, to reenergize longstanding interests or develop new ones of service to the university and to society, is already acknowledged in the corporate world through sabbatical systems quite similar to, and often modeled upon, those already in place in academe. Furthermore, to the extent that the institutional climate supports such faculty development, tenure is a significant method of fostering loyalty to the institution. Those who would advocate a higher degree of external regulation of faculty work from outside must, we think, shoulder a burden of proof they have not yet taken on to show why society would be better served if one of the chief attractions of the profession for men and women of ability -- the flexibility to explore, develop, and test new ideas, in the laboratory, library, or classroom -- were to be abridged.
In addition to the preceding arguments, other complaints currently made against the
tenure system rest on somewhat more tangential grounds. We therefore
address these more briefly. The first two represent what are sometimes called
"pipeline" arguments: that is, that tenure essentially clogs the system for
6. The recent uncapping of the age of mandatory retirement will result in many less productive older faculty clinging to their positions past the time at which they should have retired.
Since the publication of Machlup's essay, a new twist in the "deadwood"
argument has emerged in light of the federal uncapping of mandatory retirement in 1993.
Although uncapping is too recent an event to justify confidence in the data so far, little
evidence has emerged to show that faculty in large numbers have changed their minds and
decided to cling to their tenured positions past the previously-designated age of
acknowledge that in some cases, particularly where faculty members are concerned about
their financial security (for example, where they themselves have supported aged parents
well into the latter years of their own career), such a temptation might well be created
by the uncapping of the retirement age. Furthermore, since there are relatively few
openings in many academic fields today, the decision by only a few to retain a tenured
position past the previously-mandated retirement age could still effectively block the
advent of "new blood."
But the belief in a uniformly negative consequence from uncapping derives from the exceedingly unsure premise that faculty uniformly experience a decline in their zest and intellectual powers in later years. In fact, we all know colleagues who have remained vital and productive well into their eighties, and others who could most charitably be said to have taken "early retirement" by the time they are fifty. The answer here, again, is not the abrogation of the tenure system, but rather the development of more flexible options for retirement or redirection of faculty interests.
It might be noted that at the University of Illinois the State University Retirement System provides a disincentive to faculty to continue because of the capping-out possibilities under the guaranteed-retirement benefit plan. In recent years, some retired faculty have fared better under the automatic cost-of-living raise than they would have done had they elected to continue teaching. While early retirement options are worthy of exploration, the danger under such systems has always been that the University will lose precisely those faculty whom it would hope to retain, and often lose them to other institutions. This alone, in our view, provides ample reason to be chary of accepting the argument that the presence of an aging faculty is an obstacle, in and of itself, to institutional excellence.
7. Tenure tends to work against the interests of certain historically under--represented "disenfranchised" members of or aspirants to the profession, particularly women and minorities.
This argument has recently been used to justify, not the abolition of tenure, but rather attempts to lengthen the probationary period to allow for the special demands made on some classes of faculty: e.g. minority faculty with heavy service or advising commitments, or parents of infants. More relevant here, however, is the "bottleneck" argument: namely, that the predominance of tenured white males on college and university faculties effectively blocks off access by the historically underrepresented. It is sometimes suggested, therefore, that recourse to another form of employment would open more spaces for such persons. But the obstacle here is not tenure, but rather the fact that in law any attempt to fire the tenured on these grounds would constitute reverse discrimination. In any case, would such an attempt be morally justifiable?
We need more data on whether either wholesale exclusion from the profession or a pattern of unsuccessful probationary appointments is in fact the dominant pattern for such faculty members. An equally pertinent question is whether the villain of the piece is really the tenure system itself, or instead the persistent underfunding of higher education that has made it impossible for faculties in American higher education generally to replenish their own ranks. We doubt that such an argument for the abolition of tenure would look as attractive to prospective faculty now holding this view, once their own expectation of continuing employment disappeared as a result of such a major systemic change, since the very instrument that had opened the doors to them could in turn be used against them at a later date. The substitution of universal insecurity for imperfect access seems a dubious swap at best.
Surely, however, the very perspectives that historically underrepresented or marginalized groups bring to colleges and universities themselves require and deserve the protections of tenure. Political correctness flourishes across the political spectrum, and unorthodoxies may be defined as such by the group that happens to be dominant on a particular campus. At the very least, we see no compelling reason why these groups deserve the protection of tenure any less than others. 
8. At a university like ours, tenure privileges research over teaching. It thereby disadvantages both the student in his or her access to faculty and in terms of the quality of instruction, and the probationary faculty member who might wish to spend more time on instructional improvement.
This argument, of course, really has nothing to do with the pros and cons of tenure at all. Adherence to a tenure system is quite a separate issue from the particular standards for the award of tenure that a given institution chooses to promulgate. Teaching and research are two of the three criteria for tenure at most institutions; their relative weight of importance may change over time in the light of institutional mission. It is, of course, quite true that at the Chicago and Urbana campuses of the University of Illinois, demonstrated research competence is a sine qua non for the award of tenure, and that good teaching is (or should be) a necessary but not sufficient condition unto itself. On the Springfield campus, by contrast, teaching is central, and is regarded as supported by research and service. Whether a good teacher is a better teacher for not being distracted by research demands is an argument into which it is not our purpose to enter, but the logic of the assertion seems exceedingly dubious. Our own sense is that good teaching is enhanced by good scholarship.
We would also concede that the pressures of the probationary period may at times exact a certain cost to the probationer's teaching, or (perhaps more centrally) whatever the reality of the situation, the non-tenured faculty member may at least perceive this to be the case. This situation can be remedied, we think, by making sure that teaching is scrupulously evaluated and weighed in the tenure decision, and that young faculty know and believe this to be the case. Furthermore, once awarded, tenure itself provides a degree of protection for a faculty member who wishes to focus for a time on the improvement of his or her teaching, just as it also offers more latitude for service to the institution than is generally the case during the probationary period.
9. The tenure system represents a mismatch between institutional needs and disciplinary demands, and thus is a source of increased anxiety for the probationary faculty member.
This charge, aired by the proponents of the "New Pathways" Project, juxtaposes two issues that have no necessary connection with each other. We will see, however, if we can tease out the linkage between them that seems to be implied. The fundamental question is that raised by Eugene Rice (supra, n.3), who sees the tenure process as in part one of resistance to the healthy alignment of "faculty priorities and basic institutional purposes," inasmuch as the "disciplinary agendas," not the institutional ones, prevail in the award of tenure. Rice points first of all to a recent survey of new faculty which reports that "the key tenure issue is the abstruseness of the process. Junior faculty, again and again, express their frustration: 'Everything is so vague, ambiguous, and illusive [sic].' 'There is no steady, reliable feedback.'...The perception exists that expectations are constantly changing" (p.31).
Anxiety is natural in the probationary period. Where the complaints of junior faculty are justified, they surely point to a failure of clear and consistent guidance by senior faculty and administrators. But we understand the point here to be that those complaints have taken on a new urgency because of a growing tension between the culture of the discipline, which stresses evaluation by peers in the field, and state and local demands for accountability to the campus and the taxpaying public. The argument goes, as best we understand it, that even at many institutions whose mission has neither historically nor currently been dominated by research, faculty tend to want to reward that research while administrators, many of whose duties and priorities may bring them more directly into contact with the university's publics, want greater attention given to student learning and connection with the broader public.
The same study reports a degree of ambivalence about tenure among probationary faculty, ranging from the view that it is "a very powerful incentive to stay in academia" to the belief that the tenuring process is "so stressful and political" as to discourage the able. Among those holding the latter view, one faculty member on a non-tenure track, limited-term appointment is reported as arguing that his "freedom" was actually greater on such an appointment because he was able to devote time to students and teaching, the reason he had entered the profession, rather than meeting the demands of a research agenda. Such a trade hardly secures genuine academic freedom, given the prospect of a reversion to unemployment at the end of the fixed term. The naivete of the remark, however, suggests that the profession has done a very bad job of explaining tenure to its younger cohorts.
A suggested solution is that tenure be tied to institutional mission, that (in Rice's words) "tenure be local." It is difficult to know what to make of this suggestion. To press it to a degree of literalism the author probably did not intend, the obvious response is that all tenure is local, since it has no contractual force beyond the faculty member's place of employment. Furthermore, since at UIUC and UIC research is the primary institutional mission, there is no real disconnection between that mission and the tenure and promotion process. We understand, however, that more than this is meant, for the writer goes on to say that his proposal "would go a long way toward overcoming the discrepancy between faculty priorities, which are usually more cosmopolitan and oriented to the discipline, and the responsibilities of the institution for student learning and for addressing the educational needs of the larger community."
In its global reach, this seems to involve far more than the priorities of individual institutions. Rather, the implication is that American higher education generally would profit from a rethinking of its collective mission so that localism displaces scholarly cosmopolitanism as the greater value, that the communitarianism represented by the real or imagined ethos of the institution be given priority over the research agenda of individuals whose contribution has been that they have represented the University in a truly cosmopolitan scholarly endeavor.
In one sense such a view may be a natural reaction to a heady period of generous research funding in which some faculty members regarded themselves as having only tangential loyalties to the institution which employed them. But having conceded earlier in this report that a benefit of tenure is its fostering of a degree of loyalty to the institution, we feel compelled to add that all reactions have their dangers, and here the prospective danger is that loyalty to institutional mission will become a litmus test of continuance in one's professorial position. The history of academic freedom is littered with cases in which an administration has attempted to fetter faculty members to a particular institutional agenda or doctrinal belief. There is a fine line between loyalty and subservience.
Perhaps a more imminent danger than that of a kind of institutional loyalty oath is that the concept of "making tenure local" may be used to define certain courses or curricula out of existence on the basis of student demand. In other words, if one posits a certain shrinkage in that demand and redefines tenure to make it dependent on transient changes in the student market, this may well be inimical not only to the principle of tenure but to effective long-range planning and educational quality. Reasonable flexibility in the institution's ability to meet changing public needs must be balanced by an understanding of the larger role of higher education as a transmitter of cultural values and an exemplar of informed inquiry.
We do not question the right of any institution, including the University of Illinois, to expect a reasonable degree of service (and thus perhaps, in an unstraitened, more liberal sense, loyalty) from its faculty. Shared governance means not only that faculty participate in the conduct of institutional affairs but that such participation be a broadly-based expectation. Faculty members ought also to be sensitive to the milieu in which they teach and the broader expectations of the public. But such pronouncements as we have been surveying need to disclose more explicitly and candidly the underlying rationale that is driving them.
In the foregoing section we have attempted to give full breathing-space to various criticisms of tenure in American higher education. As we said at the outset, the criticisms differ considerably in their scope and their intellectual seriousness. It is our view that neither singly nor cumulatively do they provide adequate justification for dismantling a system that, on the whole, has served higher education well. Some of them, however, do point to the need for a reexamination of the ways in which the tenure system is managed, and we will return to that point in some of the remaining portions of this document.
b. Alternatives and Modifications
Correspondingly, a number of proposals for alteration in the system speak less to whether or not tenure should be continued than to whether, and if so how, it should be modified. The entire range of possibilities, from abolition to modification, is apparent in the following list. We will examine them, assert their implications, and use them as the basis for responses and recommendations.
1. Rolling or term contracts: the replacement of "indefinite" tenure with guaranteed employment for a stated period, without prejudice to future reappointment.
Under a term contract system, the faculty member is guaranteed a stated period of employment, say three to five years, subject to renewal or termination at the end of each term. Under a rolling contract system, a stated guarantee of a certain number of years of further service is proffered annually, so that the date at which the services are terminable is deferred as long as the service meets the stated criteria for renewal. Sometimes the system holds out the prospect of tenure in the traditional sense, but allows for more than one term contract appointment prior to the award of tenure, in excess of the normal "seven-year" probationary rule.
Though this system, or sometimes a variant of it, has been tried in small experimental
schools where faculty members may be organized by "teams" rather than
departments, it has never caught on widely. A rolling contract would certainly seem to
provide a generous degree of notice, allowing a faculty member more than ample opportunity
to secure alternative appointment as well as the possibility of a reversal of a negative
decision, and on that grounds would seem to commend itself through its humanitarianism.
Its most obvious disadvantage, however, is that it never compels an institution at a given
point in time to pass judgment on whether or not a faculty member should be retained on
continuous appointment, and hence it opens up the temptation to defer hard decisions:
"We can always renew so-and-so for another three years and see how he/she works
Such a system also poses some degree of awkwardness to peers making the judgment of renewal who will themselves undergo such a judgment in another year, and the only recourse for such awkwardness would seem to be a wholly different governance system which rests the decision to reappoint in administrative hands irrespective of the disciplinary competence represented by peer review. Tenure traditionally understood is a far more tough-minded way of assuring faculty quality than attempts to relax its application through the possibility of rolling contracts, and seems to us to protect the principle of peer review better than a system which risks a built-in conflict of interest.
2. Tenure for a lengthy but fixed term (e.g., twenty-five years from the time of the award of tenure) to address the perceived problems caused by a growing number of aging faculty.
The premise here is clearly related to the earlier discussion of the uncapping of mandatory retirement. Its most recent proponent argues for "defined and limited teaching contracts" from ten to thirty years "subject to periodical reviews of an acceptable sort, with due process." Aside from the indeterminacy of words like "acceptable" and "due process," the problems involve equity (fair treatment of persons awarded tenure at different times in their careers, without regard to varying lengths of time in which they may continue productive), as well as possible impermissible age discrimination. There is also the possibility that the appearance of a stricter guarantee implied by a fixed term would make it more rather than less difficult to proceed against an unproductive faculty member.
3. Financial and other working-condition incentives to induce faculty members voluntarily to renounce tenure, or accept appointment under a rolling contract system.
Such incentives have in at least one instance been proposed in tandem with a traditional tenure system at the same institution, thus casting an unfavorable presumption upon those faculty members who choose the traditional path; the result is an exercise apparently designed to support the sardonic dictum that those who are good don't need tenure, those who have tenure are no good. From time to time, individual faculty members have declared their individual renunciation of tenure.
If, as we have argued, tenure is a social benefit rather than a merely private and self-serving good, then the most obvious response to such trends (if in fact they rise to the level of trends) is that tenure is not the faculty member's to renounce, any more than an American citizen has the freedom to voluntarily sell him or herself into wage slavery. No one has the right to take a unilateral step that could weaken the protections for all.
4. Lengthening of the probationary period.
Here it is alleged that the probationary period is too short a time in which to judge the qualifications of a young faculty member, either because or he or she may be a late bloomer or because in certain fields (e.g. the natural sciences) it is difficult to initiate and fully implement a research program under the normal seven-year rule. The argument is also sometimes made on behalf of historically underrepresented groups in academe, such as women and (for different reasons) minorities.
This, of course, does not necessarily constitute an argument against tenure, only against a particular feature of its application. It should be stressed, however, in the first place that six years (with either the award of tenure at the end or a seventh-year terminal contract) is already a long trial period by comparison with other groups (e.g. labor unions or certain branches of the civil service with tenure-like features). The prevailing view has been that the probationary period ought to be as brief as possible, consistent with the need to make an informed assessment of a candidate.
In the years since Machlup wrote, this period has indeed already been eroded, for example through tenure rollbacks or clock-stopping arrangements to allow for such needs as the care of children or aged parents. Since the impulse behind such arrangements is humane and well-intentioned, it is sometimes difficult to explain, particularly to apprehensive non-tenured faculty, why on balance an adherence to the seven-year rule is desirable. In the sciences, the growth of "post-doctoral appointments" has in effect already delayed the advent of the probationary clock by two to three years after the award of the Ph.D. Some have argued that since a post-doctoral fellow does not normally develop an independent program of research but rather works under a mentor, the fact of his or her having received a post-doc cannot be counted as additional probationary time. On the other hand, the holding of such an appointment may sometimes provide the opportunity to begin developing one's own research agenda.
The idea that certain exceptions ought to be made by discipline is something less than
compelling. For one thing, a differential probationary period has the potential to be both
arbitrary and inequitable: if a scientist can make the case that research funding is
increasingly difficult to secure, why cannot a humanist argue that a book project will be
extremely protracted because of the complexity of the intellectual design or the
difficulty of securing access to a particular archive? We would also advert here to
our earlier argument : is it in fact right to allow a judgment of quality to depend
solely, or primarily, on the availability of external funds?
It seems at least arguable that we do not necessarily do a favor to the researcher who secures a substantial extension (say to ten years) of the probationary period. If at the end of that time the award of tenure is still not forthcoming, there would seem to be a very real danger that the imputation of a negative qualitative judgment rests far more heavily on the candidate than if he or she had been given a terminal notice at the end of the standard probationary period. Furthermore, as we have noted in an earlier section of this report (I.c.iii), it seems more than likely that the lengthening of the probationary period might simply result in the heightening of standards for securing of tenure. And finally, the probationary faculty member may by then have reached an age at which starting over somewhere else in the same field ranges from the impractical to the impossible.
The most fundamental principle as we see it, however, is quite simply this: if a tenure
decision can be delayed for ten or eleven years, who is to say that it might not be
delayed as long as fifteen? Under these circumstances, might not tenure become
an ever-receding goal, and would not one of the chief rationales for the tenure system --
that it forces a hardheaded judgment on quality at a specific point in a person's career
-- be essentially vitiated?
5. Placing a numerical limit on the number of tenured positions (i.e., "tenure quotas").
Although tenure quotas received some attention in the early 1970's as a way of controlling the relative proportion of tenured and non-tenured faculty, they have not been at the center of recent discussions. In the interests of thoroughness, however, we offer these few remarks with respect to them.
Essentially tenure quotas are an effort to shape the overall composition of the faculty and to preserve future flexibility by putting an upper limit on the number of tenured positions. They have generally been objected to on the grounds that they essentially negate the purpose of the probationary period by substituting an arbitrary numerical limit for a judgment based on individual merit. If the individual is let go at the end of the probationary period despite the establishment of a meritorious case for tenure, then he or she has no opportunity to be evaluated on the basis of the record. If, on the other hand, as sometimes occurs under a modification of the quota system, he or she is maintained in a kind of holding pattern until a tenured slot becomes available, then the result is subject to the same kind of objection as the extension of the probationary period because it leads to precisely the same prolongation of individual jeopardy.
It is perfectly appropriate for an institution to desire to employ some kind of
comprehensive planning pattern in which flexibility is secured by factoring in a number of
considerations on a long-range basis rather than as a recourse to a short-term solution.
Such planning should not put an undue burden on the probationary faculty (as tenure quotas
in their starkest form do), but should include a range of options for encouraging
retirement, reviewing the total composition of the teaching staff
including part-timers and teaching assistants, and allowing for the possibility that the
number of tenured slots may actually rise before falling, whereas a tenure quota may do
more damage in the long run.
6. Lowering the threshold of cause for dismissal: e.g., not "incompetent teaching" but "ineffective teaching."
There is very little to say under this head other than that adequate cause for dismissal must be very carefully defined by the faculty of a college or university in accordance with generally recognized professional standards. The danger here is that of resorting to loaded terms like "ineffective" in which the standard of judgment may be deeply and irremediably subjective. The issues to be addressed include, in cases that involve professional judgment of competence rather than of conduct, whether the faculty member has been given ample warning as well as the opportunity and encouragement to take corrective action, whether he or she can be reasonably reassigned to other duties that will assist the institution in carrying out its mission, and whether he or she has a procedure whereby he can appeal to his peers if he believes a negative finding in his case has been wrongly reached .
7. The development of lesser sanctions short of dismissal.
As we have tried to show in this report, evaluation of faculty after the award of tenure is almost continuous; it is built into the fabric of academic life; but it is geared primarily (though not exclusively) to rewards -- the emphasis is more on carrots than on sticks. On the latter, the University has the power to dismiss for cause, for incompetence, for neglect of duty or misfeasance in office, but situations calling for this drastic sanction are understandably quite rare. Thus there may well be situations where the conduct in question properly calls for institutional sanction, but one lesser than dismissal -- ranging from formal reprimand up to suspension without pay.
We have previously noted above (III.a) that the University Statutes do not currently make provision for such penalties. It is anomalous that the administration might have to seek a dismissal that it concedes might be inapposite, in order to secure a hearing committee's recommendation that a lesser sanction would be in order. Consequently, we believe that this gap in the institution's ability to deal flexibly on the side of available sanctions needs to be filled.
There is, of course, a host of issues to be dealt with in devising a system of lesser sanctions: how one determines the "fit" between a particular sanction and a particular "misdeed," how one insures the equitable operations of the system across a campus from one case to the next, and what sanctions might require a full due process hearing while others might be regarded as essentially "minor" in nature, that is, how (and under what circumstances) the faculty member may exercise channels of appeal. In short, the observance of due process is critical for such a system to work, not only to assure that the imposition of such a sanction is based upon an accurate assessment of all the facts and is fair under all the circumstances, but also to assure that it is perceived as such by the larger community. Subject to that caveat, we believe that the adoption of such a set of rules would be useful, and note that the subject has been under discussion in documents before both the UIUC and UIC Senates.
8. "Post-tenure review," that is, a form of periodic evaluation of all tenured faculty above and beyond the annual salary review.
Post-tenure review is probably one of the most widely-discussed modifications of the tenure system today, and a form of it is currently practiced at Springfield but not at Chicago and Urbana-Champaign, at least not on a formalized campus level. Some proposals for the periodic evaluation of tenured faculty seem to be rooted in hostility to the tenure system itself. The consequence is likely to be a scheme virtually indistinguishable, if at all, from the term contract system. Other proposals do not purport to go to the heart of the tenure system, but rather to strengthen the monitoring of post-tenure faculty performance and to provide incentives for continuing faculty development. Thus any consideration of such a system really depends on the content of the proposal, and whether it is intended to be a tool for faculty development or a potential means of levying a sanction against less productive faculty.
The extent to which the periodic evaluation of tenured faculty is a modification of the
tenure system as opposed to a radical alteration of it would depend on the conditions and
consequences of the reviews, and whether they presupposed (in the case of a negative
review) a shifting of the "burden of proof" back to the tenured faculty member
to show why he or she should be retained. Would an accumulation of negative reviews (and
if so, how many of them?) result in a dismissal for cause hearing? Would the system have
any practical effect if a negative review took place in the faculty member's last ten
years of service? last five?
Thus, to expand on the point in the preceding paragraph, discussions of "post-tenure review" to date have focused on whether its intent is developmental and constructive in nature, a positive stimulus to the faculty member to re-examine his or her direction at stated intervals, or whether it is intended to "build a case" for corrective action failing which the faculty member may be liable to sanctions (ranging from required developmental activities to dismissal). There is a very real prospect, unfortunately, that demands for a post-tenure review from outside the university may not be satisfied by a system which is purely constructive and "developmental" in its design.
In the present charged climate, it seems to us unlikely that a mere appeal to the fact of an annual review of faculty members for salary purposes will fully alleviate public suspicions about the adequacy of measures for reviewing tenured faculty. The question we as faculty are being asked with increasing frequency is, "What do we do about the unproductive faculty member?" What practical consequences flow from a bad post-tenure review? The denial of a raise in and of itself may not strike the external observer as much of a penalty. What the friendlier critics of tenure seem to be asking for when they call for "post-tenure review" is the assurance that something more than a routine annual evaluation takes place.
The disposition of this issue requires a more searching analysis of the tools presently available to faculty for monitoring the performance of their peers. One is the success of sabbatical and research applications, the latter in particular, like scholarly publication, being subject to the assessment of peers outside the academy. We have already argued that by the very nature of his or her duties, a faculty member is -- among all professionals -- almost uniquely accessible to continuing external evaluation. A professor carries out teaching duties in a highly public (and sometimes highly-charged) venue involving constant student, and often peer, evaluation. The award of tenure at the University of Illinois does not, in most departments, carry automatic and permanent release from student feedback on performance. Faculty members who carry significant responsibilities in the area of public service are also subject to the continuing appraisal of the non-academic community, and the extent to which that community seeks their service is itself an indicator of their effectiveness. For all these reasons, "post-tenure review" is unlikely to uncover any examples of unproductivity in research or weakness in teaching that are not already well-known within a department.
We might take note here of what is perhaps the single most important point of review following the award of tenure, and that is the promotion of a faculty member from associate professor to professor. The standards for this promotion at the University of Illinois have historically been quite demanding, involving not only the demonstration of continuing excellence in teaching and contributions in service, but an evaluation by scholarly peers around the country which measure attainment as well as promise. Unlike the award of tenure, promotion to professor can also be indefinitely deferred; there is no obligation to promote within a certain period of time, and hence the expectation exists that the evidence gathered for the promotion must be truly compelling and explicit.
If failure to advance to the rank of professor is one indicator of the extent to which "mistakes" are sometimes made in the award of tenure, then it seems relevant to inquire into the extent to which the University of Illinois evidences the phenomenon of what is sometimes called the "permanent associate professor." Though there is an inevitable degree of subjectivity in any measurement, assuming that promotion to the highest rank normally takes place within a five to seven year period after the award of tenure, it seems to us safe to assume that instances in which service at the rank of associate professor is prolonged to ten years or more, as well as the more obvious cases in which retirement takes place at that rank, would provide some indicator. 
We are far from alleging that all such instances are evidence of a major "mistake." Many faculty members who secure tenure, but not promotion to professor, perform valuable services to the University of Illinois. Some make their mark as effective teachers, sometimes carrying a heavy load of undergraduate coursework and advising. Others may take on burdens in faculty governance and to other aspects of institutional life that active scholars are sometimes (though we think erroneously) reluctant to assume. But in the highly competitive climate of today's academy, it is inescapable that persons in this position may react quite differently feeling that the ultimate reward of professional standing, at least in terms of academic rank, has been denied them.
Somewhat different is the situation of the "full" professor who, after compiling a scholarly record sufficient for that promotion, becomes inactive in his or her field. In some cases this person may, like the hypothetical associate professor above, compensate constructively by devoting himself or herself to the classroom. In other cases, the general usefulness of the person to the University may diminish in all categories. Without meeting the rather demanding negative standard of "incompetence" or grossly inadequate performance, such a faculty member does indeed seem to provide evidence, not necessarily of a failure of the tenure system per se, but of a projection of future promise which seems to have turned out to be wrong. A succession of bad salary raises or no salary raises at all, and exclusion from participation in the department's graduate program, may be among the components of what is sometimes called a "starving-out" of the person that can take many years to accomplish. The question here is whether in some way his or her situation may be amenable to positive measures.
It is in a context like this that a particularly searching kind of evaluation may indeed be warranted, and may serve constructive purposes. We are not convinced that the University of Illinois has done all within its power to monitor such cases and to attempt positive remedial stimuli for improvement. Some attention to the issue beyond the departmental level, if only to insure that departments themselves are exploring every available option for professional improvement in such an instant, seems a requisite. This is not to say that periodic evaluation may also be suitable in other cases, which we address immediately below.
Since most faculty themselves are essentially supportive of the idea that all learning is lifelong, and since presumably any faculty member could benefit from a considered review of his or her teaching and research direction, it is our position that the periodic evaluation of tenured faculty members is not in and of itself necessarily antithetical to the principle of tenure if its purpose, and the formal safeguards that surround its implementation, observe the burden of proof standard. On the other hand, it is all too easy to see how over time the distinction as to where the burden of proof lies could become blurred in individual cases. A more immediate (and to that extent perhaps more "realistic") concern involves the extent of the resources necessary to mount a post-tenure review system if its purposes, whether punitive or (as we would insist) constructive, are to be realized. Without such a resource commitment, it is all too easy to imagine post-tenure review becoming simply another routinized and time-consuming labor distracting faculty members from their primary tasks of teaching and research.
Nonetheless, we believe one important principle (or at least useful reminder) is embodied in the post-tenure review literature, and that is the need, for many faculty at least, even faculty performing at a very high level, to take the opportunity to consider thoughtfully the long-term direction of their own teaching and research interests. Annual salary reviews, geared to reports of short-term productivity, do not always adequately take into account, for example, the hiatus in publication that may be caused by the undertaking of an elaborate research proposal or the development of a new area of teaching interest. One possibility is that periodic evaluation of tenured faculty take place at the initiative of the faculty member who sees it as an opportunity for voluntary self-assessment. We will return to this topic in the concluding section of our report.
In the section that follows, we will discuss the workings of the present system at the University of Illinois. Up until now, that is, we have focused on the underlying theory of tenure and the climate in which our discussion is taking place; it remains for us to look at it as a dynamic -- or not so dynamic -- system, with practical consequences and outcomes of perhaps varying degrees of desirability.
IV. The Operation of Tenure: Academic Practice
At the University of Illinois, tenure and promotion are granted by a procedure fairly typical in much if not most of higher education. When a position becomes available in an academic department for a new junior faculty member, a national search is launched, finalists are brought to campus, and an offer is made. After arrival on campus, an assistant professor will normally expect to encounter at least one, and sometimes as many as four or five, full-scale reviews during his or her probationary period. These reviews may be of varying intensity and require different levels of documentation, but at that point at which the review is to eventuate in a recommendation for or against promotion to associate professor and the award of tenure (two events normally but not inevitably conjoined), the documentation of teaching, scholarship, and service is the most extensive, and matched only at the point of promotion to professor. In the case of research, referees in the person's field from outside the University are called upon to provide an evaluation of the published work so that readers of the promotion papers can ascertain the professional promise and (especially in the case of promotion to full professor at a later date) the standing of the faculty member in the discipline.
As the process has historically worked in Urbana and Chicago, when the department has concluded its deliberations and the outcome is positive, the papers will be forwarded to the next level, normally that of the dean of the college in which the department is housed. At this level, review will be conducted by the college executive committee or a separate tenure committee, comprised of faculty who represent several of the disciplines or subfields within the college. At UIC review subsequently takes place within the Graduate College, again under the scrutiny of the dean and the elected executive committee, while at UIUC the recommendations are reviewed by a committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. In both cases, recommendations proceed to the vice chancellor for academic affairs, and then the campus chancellor. The University's central administration (i.e. the offices of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the President) has not historically scrutinized individual cases, and the campus-level recommendation is normally regarded as determinative. Of course, final action in the formal sense does require the assent of the President and the Board of Trustees.
If the candidate for tenure is turned back at the departmental level, his or her options are several. If he or she is not yet in the sixth year of service, the last year in which a recommendation for tenure can be reached, then he or she may elect to come up again, unless the department has already determined that a terminal contract will be issued because it seems unlikely that the candidate can fulfill the standards for promotion. If the probationer is in the sixth year of service, he or she may elect to withdraw the promotion papers at that point and serve out a terminal contract in exchange for a resignation at the end of that period. Or he or she may elect to ask that the case be considered by the next level of review.
This description of the steps by which tenure is awarded is important in understanding the nature of the tabular material that follows, but it is also important in responding to criticisms that the tenure system sometimes "loads up" an institution with too large a proportion of tenured faculty. Under these conditions, it is argued, there is insufficient fluidity in the system, in part because of the fact of the institution of tenure itself, and also allegedly because the process is insufficiently searching and irresolute at best in weeding out the unfit.
We have found no evidence that tenure has been hastily conferred in recent years at the University of Illinois. Table 1 shows the pipeline from application to appointment to the award of tenure on the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses. The first point to note is that an exceptionally large applicant pool exists at the beginning of the process. The academic market is not favorable to the graduating student in many, if not most, disciplines at the present time, and one can assume in most cases a large choice of applicants, many of them superlatively qualified. The figures thus show at the University of Illinois at Chicago, there were 4047 applicants for advertised tenure-track positions in AY 1992. Of these 374, or less than 10%, were finalists (a stage of the process that usually involves a campus visit), and of these 80, or about 2% of the applicants, were appointed. The comparable figures for Urbana-Champaign the same academic year were 2700, 221, and 38 appointees, with a meager 1.5% being appointed. In the two academic years that followed, the statistical prospect of becoming a finalist for a tenured or tenure-track position dropped precipitously at both campuses. Although the number of appointments from the finalist pool experienced an increase at Chicago in AY 1994, the figures for actual appointees from the pool in Chicago were 0.2% in 1993, 0.7% in 1994, while at Urbana the figures for the two years are only slightly higher (0.7%, or 1 hire in 143, and 0.8%, or 1 in 125).
One can presume from these figures that a high degree of selectivity in initial appointments is already well-enshrined at Chicago and Urbana-Champaign. If a truly national search uncovers a handful of the best candidates that can be found, and if the fields of study they represent are truly central (or perhaps emergent) in a given discipline, it seems a reasonable presumption that they will be strong candidates for tenure. Thus a relatively high rate of tenuring is not of itself an indicator of a lax system.
Nonetheless, we felt it important to attempt to determine exactly what happened to new appointees during the seven years following their initial appointment. The next four tables (2.1,2.2,2.3,and 2.4) attempt to chart the rate of turnover of assistant professors appointed to the tenure track in AY 1982 and AY 1989 at the Urbana and Chicago campuses. The figures show, for example (Table 2.2), that 56.6% of the assistant professors appointed to the tenure track in 1989 at Urbana received tenure, another 10.8% secured a rollback (a delay in the final decision owing to whatever cause), and that 26.5% were separated, with another 4.8% proceeding to a terminal appointment. We should be careful first to note that these tables do not tell us what the reasons for "separation" were. That is, aside from illness or death (a low statistical probability in this cohort), some probationary faculty members may have received a better position somewhere else before completing their term of probation; others may have sustained a negative review prior to the "up or out" review that normally takes place at the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth year and elected to resign before accepting a terminal appointment that would show as such on their record. The retention rate at the Chicago campus for both years was considerably lower. (The higher rate of switches to non-tenure tracks at Chicago probably reflects at least in part the greater number of clinical appointments at the College of Medicine, where such track switches have not been uncommon in the recent past.) Perhaps the chief point to be made, however, is that on both campuses, even despite the presumably high quality of the entering cohorts, the evidence does not support the assumption that the tenure lines have been clogged by a failure to make tough decisions.
The third group of tables (3.1-3.2) attempts to ascertain the percentage of tenured faculty as a portion of the total faculty workforce at the University of Illinois in three "snapshot" years: 1982, 1987, and 1995. At both the Urbana and Chicago campuses, there has been a steady drop in the percentage of full-time tenured faculty, while the percentage of faculty on the tenure track has fallen slightly. There has been a perceptible rise, however, in other kinds of teaching appointments. The results suggest that the University of Illinois is far from being "tenured in," but that alternative kinds of appointments -- outside, that is, the tenure track -- are slowly but progressively more visible as a phenomenon on both campuses.
A study of the age distribution of full-time tenured faculty at Illinois (Table 4.1) shows a bulge in the mid- and late-range cohorts (ages
41-65) which has not changed drastically in the snapshot years of 1990, 1993, and 1995. It
is too early to assess the effect of the uncapping of the retirement age. Though the
percentage increase is slight, 1995 does show an increase in the number of tenured faculty
staying on for the ages 71-75. The decision to stay on past 65 or 70 cannot be attributed
to any single factor, but the studies previously noted indicate a high relationship
between continuance and job satisfaction. As a research university, therefore, the
University of Illinois may well experience a somewhat higher number of faculty who would
opt to stay on somewhat longer than they might have under the capped system.
No automatic presumption, favorable or unfavorable, as to the qualitative implications of this possibility can be made without further data and a more significant statistical impact. The fact that so few new appointments are made each year (111 in 1994 at Chicago, 37 in Urbana; cf. Table 1) may mean that even a small change in the reduction of the number of retirees in any one year has an impact if one assumes (what may not always be the case) that these positions would then become available for one or more new appointees. Assuming constant or growing applicant pools, any factor reducing the number of new positions will reduce the percentage of applicants hired. This effect will be temporary since within a few years a new steady state will be reached as these valued members of our faculty choose to retire. Table 4.2 measures retirement as a percentage of tenured faculty, and again it is worth noting that the percentage of full-time faculty retiring on the UIUC and UIC campuses has varied only slightly in each of the three years surveyed.
We offer here an additional comment on the apparent increase in academic appointments that do not lead to tenure. Over time, the growth of such appointments, absent specific rationales for their use which may be justified by the special nature of the faculty member's duties (e.g. in part-time or clinical appointments where there is no expectation of productivity in all three areas -- teaching, service, and research -- normally reviewed for faculty performance), can, de facto if not de jure, erode the protections of the tenure system. We will return to this point in the recommendations in our next section.
1. Tenure does not exist for the benefit of the individual faculty member, but for the purpose of insuring the pursuit of free inquiry for the common good. Tenure hence is not an entitlement to be granted in the absence of negative evidence in the case of the faculty member, but rather a privilege to be earned through documented distinction in teaching, research, and service. Once granted, it is not a sinecure which can be invoked to justify neglect of duties or irresponsible behavior.
2. The holding of tenure involves certain obligations: to standards of professional care in disciplinary utterance, to the responsible discharge of duties connected with a particular position, and (to the extent that it is directly relevant to that position) the furtherance of the mission of the institution. Faculty have tripartite obligations as citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of the institution.
3. The award of tenure is a process of selection carried out in the interests of institutional excellence. Its award does not confer immunity from any further review; it means only that, whereas the probationary faculty member must sustain the burden of proof to show why he or she should be granted tenure, in the case of a tenured faculty member the burden of proof shifts to the institution to show why he or she should be dismissed.
4. The body within the institution that carries primary responsibility for the granting of tenure, and for recommending to the administration and governing board the termination of tenured faculty members for cause, is the tenured faculty itself. At the same time, other groups within the university have a stake in the outcome of faculty judgments in these areas; thus "primary responsibility" is not to be construed as "absolute right."
5. While a non-tenured faculty member does not enjoy the same degree of due process in non-reappointment that a tenured faculty member does in facing prospective dismissal, the probationer does have a reasonable expectation of fairness in the procedure by which a tenure decision is reached and in the substance of that decision. Accordingly, the head or chair of an academic unit must insure that the advice the non-tenured faculty member receives with respect to the standards for the award of tenure is clear, full, and as unambiguous as possible.
7. Tenure is necessary for the protection of the academic freedom of a faculty member as an officer of the institution. In that role, the faculty member must be free to speak out on questions of institutional policy without fear of reprisal. The reason is that the tenured faculty assume certain responsibilities for the educational function and the academic operation of the institution.
8. Criticisms of tenure do not reach the heart of tenure as a theory. They do, however,
on occasion raise intellectually serious concerns about the implementation and
administration of the tenure system. Accordingly we turn now to specific
recommendations pertinent to tenure at the University of Illinois.
Recommendation #1. The University of Illinois should retain the present system of academic tenure, including the probationary period, as set out in the Statutes. We regard this system, whatever the deficiencies in its human application, as the best means of guaranteeing both academic freedom and educational quality, securing qualified young faculty, and assuring the continuing commitment of all faculty members to the mission of the University.
Recommendation #2. The Senates of the University of Illinois should give high priority to the question of "lesser sanctions" (lesser, that is, than dismissal or "reassignment," i.e., suspension prior to the outcome of a dismissal proceeding) for faculty misconduct or non-performance of duties. Far from being a threat to the system of tenure, the availability of less-than-draconian measures for dealing with such questions is a safety valve for the tenure system. It enforces the idea that certain kinds of behavior or performance may justifiably be met with corrective measures and may, in the most serious of cases, establish a record for moving to dismissal if the problem recurs, while at the same time offering the faculty member the opportunity either to address that problem or to show that the sanction has been wrongly invoked.
Recommendation #3. The Senates of the University of Illinois should develop
procedures to deal more systematically with the information generated by the multiple
processes of faculty evaluation that occur after the award of tenure. The evaluation of members of
the faculty of the University of Illinois by faculty peers, administrators, students, and
external agencies is almost continuous. These include annual reviews conducted for
purposes of salary adjustment and those conducted for promotion, sabbatical leave,
research grants, awards for teaching, research, public service, and the like.
Economists who have studied the idea of adding yet another periodic evaluation have questioned the need for, and the usefulness of, such devices. We agree. We fear that a blanket "post-tenure" review exercise taking place across all faculty ranks every three to five years would be enormously wasteful of faculty time and effort, and would result in the trivialization and routinization of the process. Nevertheless, each of the many appraisals that now occur is conducted for a specific and relatively narrow purpose, usually geared to the grant of an increment, benefit, or award. There is no procedure in place to deal systematically and for other institutionally important purposes with the large quantity of evaluative information currently being generated. In particular, existing University procedures speak only to a precipitating act of misconduct, and not to the problem of flagging, but potentially improvable, faculty performance. We believe that such procedures should be put in place for two such uses. The first is developmental. The second we term a "focused" or "selective" appraisal. The general principles to guide each of these is set out below:
i. We propose that the University of Illinois make available a more formalized faculty
development system, whereby a faculty member and his or her head or chair,
at the request of either or both parties, could sit down privately to develop a statement
of intentions, hereafter referred to as a development agreement, that could
indicate a direction for that faculty member for the next several years, subject to joint
review and emendation at any time. There needs to be a more formal acknowledgment in the
present tenure system that for almost every faculty member there are different
"seasons" in a professional lifetime, that continuous productivity in one
particular area of activity cannot always be expected, and that some conscious recognition
of this fact by the University can itself be a way of insuring better faculty morale and
helping to reinvigorate a career.
At the same time, care should be taken to insure that such an agreement does not become
a straitjacket that inhibits rather than assists faculty development. It is true that in
some circumstances, the initiation of an agreement might reflect a concern by the
appropriate administrative officer that a faculty member's performance might be in need of
improvement. On the other hand, a faculty member who initiated such a proposal might well
be doing so as a result of a change or shift in his or her own interests. In those cases,
a development agreement would be, not a sanction to be levied in cases of non-performance
or poor or waning performance, but a beneficial mechanism, a way of recording the
conscientious exploration of a new avenue of interest. But even if discussions leading
toward a development agreement or plan were initiated by the unit officer, the mere fact
of the proffering of such a plan need not necessarily be taken as a preface to a sanction,
or as a signal that there was something wanting in a faculty member's performance.
We do not attempt here to define how such a system might be instituted, but commend it
to further study by the Senates. Such a study should acknowledge that the device would not
be equally useful in all departments, or across the board in all of them, since
departments themselves vary widely in size, primary mission, and culture.
ii. Where the results of existing procedures for faculty evaluation, including but not
limited to annual reviews, give reason to believe that the faculty member, despite
informal advice, the offer of a developmental program, and/or express warning of
inadequate performance, continues to perform below acceptable standards, a focused
appraisal of the faculty member's overall fitness or competence to continue should be
undertaken through the process of peer review. The procedure should clarify the standards
for documentation of such cases by the units bearing the primary responsibility for
review, the manner of evaluation, and the nature of the involvement of the faculty member
concerned in executing the evaluation.
A serious sanction such as a significant reduction in salary or even dismissal in
extreme cases may be sought in consequence of the information developed through the
evaluative process. Such sanctions may be imposed only for adequate cause under the
University Statutes (provided the Statutes make provision for those sanctions short of
dismissal). A failure to respond favorably to counseling or to repeated warning is not of
itself cause for such a sanction or for seeking such a sanction. These or analogous
situations should be dealt with in a manner commensurate with the nature of the faculty
member's performance, e.g. denial of salary increments, reallocation of teaching or
research, reassignment to non-teaching or non-research responsibilities, and the like.
The imposition of a serious sanction, however, must require the strict observance of procedural due process as currently provided in the University Statutes: i.e., the burden properly rests on the administration to prove incompetence or unfitness, in which proceeding the evidence accumulated in the evaluation may be introduced, subject to challenge by the faculty member concerned. In such a case, it will be for the hearing committee to decide the relevance, materiality, and weight to be accorded the evaluative data submitted.
Recommendation #4. The Senates, building on recent studies of part-time and
non-tenure-track faculty at the University of Illinois, should undertake to develop policy
recommendations on whether controls (and if so what kind) should be applied to insure that
such appointments do not become substitutes for tenured appointments or a way, over time,
of eroding the University's fundamental commitment to the institution of tenure.
In particular, such a study should consider ways of defining those faculty appointments that may justifiably depart from the kinds of standards and expectations applicable to more traditional appointments of the sort envisaged by the 1940 Statement, as well as whether an upper limit should be imposed on the proportions of such appointments within given units. It should also articulate ways in which such faculty may enjoy the benefits of academic freedom, and specifically the obligations of the tenured faculty to insure a climate in which that freedom can be exercised. Such a study should, finally, consider the implications of non-traditional (but growing) tenure arrangements in some clinical fields, for example, in which tenure may be attached only to a percentage of the appointment and the faculty member expected to make up the remainder of his or her salary with external income.
We have carried out our work with the full knowledge that faculty tenure is once more under attack. In this document, we have been concerned primarily to address the University of Illinois community; the task of translating our views into language more appropriate for the general reader still lies before us. Our prioritization of the task has been governed by at least two presuppositions: first, that we must be clear about where we stand as members of the faculty on the complex subject of tenure before we engage that broader audience; second, that many faculty members themselves are unaware, or insufficiently aware, of both the guiding rationale for a tenure system and the nature of the attacks currently being launched against it.
We affirm that the taxpayers of Illinois are entitled to accountability in return for their tax dollars. They have the right to expect good teaching, research that advances the public interest as well as the theoretical boundaries of a discipline, and public service in accordance with the University's historic land-grant mission. Unless we can show that tenure, far from being a sacred cow, is an instrument for, rather than an obstacle to, the achievement of these ends, our case will be unpersuasive.
To this end, we believe it is necessary to make clear that we do not regard tenure as a sinecure carrying exemption from all further scrutiny. An important task of the faculty and academic administrators is to insure that standards of academic excellence as well as professional conduct are vigilantly and diligently met throughout the career of a faculty member at this University, and that there are adequate tools at hand for the improvement, correction, or if need be sanctioning of either poor faculty performance or unethical faculty conduct.
Having said that, we must reaffirm our view that tenure is not only essential to the protection of academic freedom, but, properly administered, a way of securing quality control. As such, faculty tenure avoids the twin dangers of a system of virtual "instant tenure" on the one hand, characteristic of some civil service systems, in which it becomes virtually impossible to dislodge an employee for nonperformance of duties after a very brief period of probation, and on the other hand the chilling of teaching, freedom of inquiry, and freedom to criticize institutional policy that occurs when faculty members hold contracts only at the will of an administration and governing board.
The need for tenure takes on added significance in the contemporary climate of campus "culture wars." The University of Illinois has thus far been spared an incident of the kind that has drawn national attention and public accusations of "political correctness" elsewhere. But this is not to say that an event will not occur concerning speech that fires the strongest passions, in which public calls for summary dismissal of a faculty member may be made. Issues of professional ethics and academic freedom are inevitably and inextricably involved in such cases. No better way has been found to deal with them save by procedures that assure accuracy, fairness, and dispassionate analysis, i.e. by a hearing of record before a faculty hearing committee. As a member of the seminar has recently written:
[I]f tenure protects from summary dismissal those faculty members who would have their
institutions suppress speech, it protects as well those who oppose those efforts; and the
highly charged contemporary campus climate seems to signal the need for more protection,
Tenure not only gives breathing space for the outspoken, it protects the integrity of the hearing body -- which cannot be suspected of acting under fear -- and serves as a bulwark for the integrity of the institution, to defend against charges of precipitate or politically motivated action.
We conclude with a question we asked on an earlier page of this report: Would faculty members living in perpetual fear that their very livelihood was at stake be more effective teachers, more thoughtful scholars, or more dedicated citizens of their institution in the absence of a tenure system? Our answer is no, and the state of Illinois itself, we believe, would be poorly served if that situation were to obtain at the University of Illinois or in any of the state's universities.
In discussions of tenure, one issue frequently raised at the University of Illinois (as we presume it has been at other institutions) is where tenure resides: at the department (unit), college or school, campus, or university level. The question, we hope, will remain theoretical, but it would speedily take on practical consequences if in a time of financial stringency the University of Illinois were to discover that it was necessary to terminate tenured positions. What, in such a case, would be the obligation (if any) of the University or one of its campuses to find an alternative academic home for a faculty member whose program had been abolished as a result of serious financial pressures?
The argument that tenure attaches to the departmental level and has neither moral nor legal force in the event of the abolition of a particular department or program within (or contributed to by) that department would appear to rest on the assumption that the department's judgment has been primary in the decision to award tenure in the first place, albeit subject to scrutiny, review, and even possible reversal at a higher level. In our opinion, this view is not entirely illogical but somewhat myopic, inasmuch as a faculty member's responsibilities -- and especially, over time, the responsibilities of a tenured faculty member -- extend well beyond the boundaries of his or her department (and for that matter, to address another proposed level of solution, beyond his or her college as well). The involvement of various institutional levels in the review of a tenure decision indicates that considerations other than the purely departmental are of weight and relevance to the decision to award tenure, and specifically that the tenured faculty member is of value to (and has reciprocal obligations to) the University, not just the academic unit in which he or she holds title. Furthermore, a department-based reading of the tenure commitment overlooks the fact that departmental boundaries themselves are increasingly permeable. Faculty members often cooperate in their teaching with members of other departments and even colleges; they may be doing research of interest to colleagues both on campus and nationwide in other disciplines in an era which increasingly prizes interdisciplinarity and interdependence in various aspects of the scholarly enterprise. Thus a purely department-based definition slights the complexity of roles which today's faculty member takes on, and appears to rest on a mistaken inflexibility which may deny the University the services of a valuable teacher, researcher, and campus citizen.
On the other hand, it would appear to us excessively broad a definition of the locus of tenure to assert that it resides at the all-University level. Under this interpretation, a faculty member at, say, Chicago would presumably have the right to be considered for an equivalent position at Urbana-Champaign or Springfield if his unit were being abolished at UIC. Aside from the inherent unlikelihood that a "low demand" field on one campus would be a "high demand" field on another, the problem with asserting a University-wide locus of tenure is that under the present system of promotion and tenure review, no real substantive consideration of a case for promotion takes place beyond the level of the campus chancellors. Thus what amounts to a solid case for campus-wide commitment in the promotion and tenure review cannot be said to exist to the same degree at the University level.
A consideration of these two "extreme" possibilities and of how the promotion
and tenure system actually operates on our campuses leads us, therefore, to reaffirm the
judgment of the ad hoc Committee on Retrenchment Policy (1983 ; see n. 35 above) that the
locus of tenure rests at the campus level. Unlike that Committee, however, we cannot construe the obligation to be
absolute. A campus is obligated to a good faith effort to procure another position for the
faculty member, but a proposed solution requires the assent of the receiving academic unit
as well. On the other
hand, nothing in what we say should be construed as an inherent obstacle to a resolution
of the tenured faculty member's status at the all-University level should such a
resolution commend itself to the parties involved. The question is not merely one of
procedural minima, but of a recognition that the abrogation of tenure is a serious
business and requires not only due process but an affirmative moral obligation to make
certain that all reasonable alternatives to termination have been canvassed.
The following served as members of the seminar: James D. Anderson (Educational Policy Studies), UIUC; Janice Bahr (Animal Sciences), UIUC; Donald A. Chambers (Biochemistry), UIC; Jesse Delia (Dean, LAS), UIUC; Matthew W. Finkin (Law), UIUC; Kathleen Knafl (Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and College of Nursing), UIC; Ann Larson (Biological Sciences), UIS; Allen Lerner (Interim Dean, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs), UIC; Katherine Manthorne (Art and Design), UIUC; Lawrence S. Poston, Chair (English), UIC; John E. Prussing (Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering), UIUC; Brenda Russell (Physiology and Biophysics), UIC; Edward J. Shoben (Psychology), UIUC; Uday P. Sukhatme (Physics), UIC; Paul J. Uselding (Dean, College of Business Administration), UIC. Members of the Seminar gratefully acknowledge the excellent staff assistance of Gayle Layman, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Back to the text.
 Two factors in particular need to be mentioned as figuring in the selection process: First, not only because of the time commitment but because of the nature of the issue itself, a conscious decision was made not to involve non-tenured faculty as members of the seminar. It was felt that a solicitation of the candid views of the non-tenured could be made by specifically inviting their reactions to the draft report. Second, because the study involves some degree of historical retrospection on what, up to 1995, were the two campuses of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Chicago, because indeed it was not even known at the time the study was conceptualized that then-Sangamon State University would be joining the University of Illinois system, and because of the fact that the Springfield faculty operates under the somewhat different presumptions of a collective bargaining contract, the emphasis of the report suggested that the burden of its preparation most appropriately lay with the faculties of the two campuses that operate under a more traditional shared governance procedure. We would argue, however, that the general theory of tenure enunciated here, as well as any conclusions we wished to draw about its existence at the University, is applicable to all three campuses, and we are equally serious in our desire that responses to this report come from all three. Back to the text.
 R. Eugene Rice, "Making a Place for the New American Scholar" (Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education New Pathways 32. Working Paper Series Inquiry #1, 1996), p. 32. Back to the text.
 Walter P. Metzger, "Academic Tenure in America: A Historical Essay," in Faculty Tenure: A Report and Recommendations by the Commission on Academic Tenure in Higher Education, William R. Keast, Chairman (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1973), pp. 93-159, on which the following survey is based. Back to the text.
 Metzger has provided a detailed account of the discussion that led up the 1940 Statement, including the issue of length of probation, in "The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure," Law and Contemporary Problems, 53.iii (Summer 1990), 3-78. Back to the text.
 Clark Byse and Louis Joughin, Tenure in American Higher Education: Plans, Practices, and the Law (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1959), p. 4. Back to the text.
 We eliminate only one sentence from this statement, having to do with "limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution," as inapplicable to the University of Illinois. Back to the text.
 It is worth noting that the AAUP has developed a number of corollary policy statements in the area of professional ethics, including: Statement on Professional Ethics (rev. 1987), Freedom and Responsibility (1990), Statement on Plagiarism (1990), Statement on Recruitment and Resignation of Faculty Members (1961), and On Preventing Conflicts of Interest in Government-Sponsored Research at Universities (1965). Back to the text.
 In a gloss on the 1940 Statement, the Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the AAUP defines "a demonstrably bona fide financial exigency" as "an imminent financial crisis which threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and which cannot be alleviated by less drastic means" (Section 4[c]). It acknowledges also a somewhat lesser standard of termination because of the "bona fide formal discontinuance of a program or department of instruction," setting out certain prior conditions that should be observed prior to termination (Section 4[d]). Back to the text.
 William Van Alstyne, "Tenure: A Summary, Explanation, and 'Defense'," AAUP Bulletin, 57 (1971), 328-29. Back to the text.
 We return to this question in Section III.a in discussing the charge that tenure creates a class of "deadwood" faculty. Back to the text.
 The fact that such persons may become effective career administrators is, of course, one reason for caution in assuming that once "spent," a faculty career may enjoy no second life elsewhere in the university. But even given the proliferation of administrative positions on some campuses today, this is hardly a satisfactory response to the criticism. Such moves are, in fact, made only by a very small number of the total faculty. Back to the text.
 Some critics have argued, with reference to the academic generation just now beginning to reach retirement, that during the brief "sellers' market" of the 1960's, tenure was often granted both too early and too generously because a young faculty member could easily move to another institution. Though we are aware of no empirical data to support the sweep with which this argument is sometimes presented, we have no doubt of its validity in specific cases, and of the likelihood that the faculty member's sense of obligation to a particular institution may have been especially attenuated thereby. As an indictment of tenure per se, or as a mass indictment of a (unspecified) number of faculty members during that period, the argument seems to us without merit; to the extent that it can be supported, it represents an issue of tenure management rather than one that penetrates to the core of the tenure theory. Back to the text.
 Thus the 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings begins its procedural recommendations with these words: "When reasons arise to question the fitness of a college or university faculty member who has tenure or whose term appointment has not expired..." (emphasis added). Back to the text.
 We paraphrase here Van Alstyne's terminology, p. 332. Back to the text.
 Martin Bronfenbrenner, responding to the "two class" argument, proposes that "the embittered should recall that the 'up-or-out' feature of many tenure systems was appended to eliminate the problems of equally-embittered 'tenure[d] assistant professors' who remained second-class citizens while clogging promotion channels" ("Toward Compromise on Tenure," Atlantic Economic Journal, V, i [March 1977], 23). He himself, though, proposes decoupling tenure from rank and permitting it to be granted without promotion, a reversion to the earlier policy he mentions. Back to the text.
 Thus John R. Silber charges, in his customarily vivid language, that "the seven-year rule too often rewards the fast and flashy scholar rather than the scholar whose power develops at a slower pace but more profoundly. It thus encourages frantic productivity of fashionable trivia, and this in turn pollutes the marketplace of ideas and lends a specious dignity to busywork" ("Tenure in Context," in Bardwell L. Smith and Associates, The Tenure Debate [San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1973], p. 49). Back to the text.
 Courtney Leatherman, "More Faculty Members Question the Value of Tenure," The Chronicle of Higher Education (October 25, 1996), pp. A12-13. Back to the text.
 We do not here take up the question of teaching assistants, whose role is by definition temporary - an aspect of their professional training. Of course, the obligation of senior faculty to supervise the work of such assistants is no less great, and perhaps (given their student status) even more so. Nor are teaching assistants any less in need of protection for their academic freedom than is any other group of teachers in the university. Back to the text.
 We do not attempt at this point to describe various alterations in these roles. Faculty members today carry out a wide variety of duties in many more different kinds of appointment than could have ever been envisioned by this classical formulation: thus, some may be engaged in full-time research, others in clinically-related callings that do not obviously conform to this traditional triadic definition. For purposes of simplicity here, we confine ourselves to the "traditional" pattern, which still reflects the experience of a majority of the faculty at most institutions. Back to the text.
 We would also not want to suggest that certain classes of faculty (say, by discipline) are more in need of the protections of tenure than others. The role of the "educational officer" as a "citizen" of his or her institution requires precisely the same protections for all, no matter what the individual's disciplinary expertise. Back to the text.
 It is from this period that recent critics such as Roger Kimball draw conclusions regarding the alleged leftist takeover of higher education; see Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education, New York: Harper-Collins, 1991. Back to the text.
 "Academic Tenure at Harvard University," AAUP Bulletin, 58 (1972), 62-68; "Report of the University of Utah Commission to Study Tenure, May 1971," idem, 57 (1971), 421-432; Kingman Brewster, "On Tenure," idem, 58 (1972), 381-383. Back to the text.
 "No one feels empowered with an ax over his head," observes one recent critic of corporate downsizing, Carrie R. Leana, in "Why Downsizing Won't Work," Chicago Tribune Magazine (April 14, 1996), pp. 15ff. Back to the text.
 The first of the working papers in this series, by Eugene Rice, is cited in n. 3 above. A useful overview of some emerging institutional reviews of tenure has been provided by Cathy A. Trower, "Tenure Snapshot," (Washington, D.C.: American Association of Higher Education, Working Paper Series Inquiry #2, 1996) and her accompanying "An Inventory of Faculty Employment Policies." Back to the text.
 Allan W. Lerner, Ch. 1, "The Coming Wave," in Allan W. Lerner and B. Kay King, eds., Continuing Higher Education: The Coming Wave (New York: Teachers College Press of Columbia University, 1992), pp. 1-20. Back to the text.
 Fritz Machlup, "In Defense of Academic Tenure," AAUP Bulletin, 50 (1964), 112-124. Back to the text.
 Members of the seminar noted that persons both within and outside higher education tend to use this term rather freely. To faculty members, especially those at a large research university like the University of Illinois, "deadwood" tends to mean faculty who have ceased to pursue an active research program. To the public, "deadwood" evokes the image of the elderly faculty member relying on the same lecture notes he or she employed twenty or thirty years before. Blanket use of the term also tends to obscure important differences: e.g., between those who are passable but indifferent teachers and those who are spectacularly ineffective, those who have seldom published and those whose publication took place largely in their earlier career, and so forth. Back to the text.
 The grounds for dismissal (Article X, Section 1 [d]), are (1) if a faculty member has been grossly neglectful or inefficient in the performance of his or her duties, (2) if that performance or extramural conduct is found "to demonstrate clearly and convincingly that the faculty member can no longer be relied upon to perform those University duties and functions in a manner consonant with professional standards of competence and responsibility," and (3) if during University employment the faculty member has "illegally advocated overthrow of our constitutional form of government by force or violence." Back to the text.
 A good example is foreign language programs. Given new prominence in the wake of Sputnik and enjoying a massive infusion of federal funds under the National Defense Education Act, many such programs subsequently underwent retrenchment in the 1970ís and ë80ís as colleges and universities across the country dropped foreign language requirements for graduation. Now the new focus on "internationalizing the curriculum" seems to have reopened a window of opportunity for foreign language instruction. Back to the text.
 Although they differ in their emphases, the two leading studies of this issue agree (a) that faculty retire later when they are heavily invested in research, have excellent students and light teaching loads; hence the consequences of uncapping may be more significant at prestigious research universities but will have relatively little effect at other institutions; (b) that available evidence does not show that there is a significant age-related decline in faculty performance. See Albert Rees and Sharon P. Smith, Faculty Retirement in the Arts and Sciences, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991, and P. Brett Hammond and Harriet P. Morgan, eds., Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1991, a report of the Committee on Mandatory Retirement in Higher Education, Ralph E. Gormony, Chair. Back to the text.
 In an ironic mirror image of this argument, some white males now getting doctorates have claimed that the demands of such historically underrepresented groups, as well as the requirements of affirmative action, have made it harder for them to secure academic employment. Back to the text.
 Since this section of the report was drafted, support for our position seems to be provided in a recent study under the auspices of the Ford and Spencer Foundations on the labor market for new (especially minority) faculty members. The chief investigator writes that "scholars of color whom we interviewed viewed tenure as extremely important to them. Many said that the climate on campus for minority group scholars was still very difficult, and that tenure was needed to give them some protection if they were to speak out on issues that they might see differently from more established faculty members." See Daryl G. Smith, "Faculty Diversity When Jobs Are Scarce: Debunking the Myths," Chronicle of Higher Education (6 September 1996), p. B 4. Back to the text.
 Page Smith's jeremaiad against tenure seems to be based on what he regards as excessive demands at most institutions to publish and the accompanying conformity into which he feels the probationer is forced. "Those individuals whose primary interest is in teaching students are well advised to find another line of work" (Killing the Spirit: Higher Education in America [New York: Viking, 1990], p. 178). It is not obvious, however, whether he would have institutions abolish tenure or simply award it more generously. Back to the text.
 Something much like this seems to be embodied in a recent document from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (September 4, 1996), Agenda Item #5B: "Also the retirement of unprecedented numbers of faculty...presents an unusual opportunity to rethink and reconfigure basic programs and operations. To offer one example of a situation likely to occur: many institutions have graduate programs in fields that only tangentially serve the campus' central mission, but are valued because they have a core of talented and productive faculty. A high degree of turnover among senior staff should place such a program in new light, bringing into sharper relief the connection between institutional and program objectives. With retirements across campus likely in many such programs, large-scale faculty turnover will present opportunities to undertake related initiatives that better articulate and strengthen institutional missions and priorities" (p. 13). Back to the text.
 The proposal was put forward, among others, by Oscar Ruebhausen, "The Age Discrimination in Employment Act Amendments of 1986: Implications for Tenure and Retirement," Journal of College and University Law, 14 (1988), 561ff.; for a response, see Matthew W. Finkin, "Tenure after an Uncapped ADEA: A Different View," idem, 15 (1988), 43ff. It has recently been revived by Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, "What Strategy Should We Now Adopt to Protect Academic Freedom?" Academe, 82, i (January-February 1996), p. 25. A variant is proposed by Bronfenbrenner: end tenure when a faculty member is fifteen years younger than his or her institution's normal retirement age (now, in the "uncapped era," presumably determined on the basis of a statistical measurement). Back to the text.
 On an attempt to develop a mixed or two-tiered system, see Joanne Campbell, Suzanne Richter, and Julie Sheppard, Tenure in Transition: The Florida Experience , Tallahassee: State University System of Florida, 1996. Back to the text.
 See James O'Toole, "Tenure: A Conscientious Objection," Change Magazine (June/July 1978), rptd. May/June 1994, pp. 79-87, which excerpts from those who replied at the time (William W. Van Alstyne, Robert Van Waes, Florence Moog, and John R. Silber; see also David Helfand, "Tenure: Thanks but No Thanks," The Chronicle of Higher Education (December 15, 1995), pp. 31-33, and subsequent correspondence. Back to the text.
 Present personnel practice at the University of Illinois, however, seems to be soundly grounded in the distinction between a "rollback" and an extension of the probationary period. The purpose of most rollbacks is to accommodate personal situations of stress or home-related commitments, not to offer the non-tenured faculty member the time for additional professional work. A rollback granted for the latter reason is thus, under this definition, not a rollback at all but a lengthened probationary period. There is need for a systematization of the reasons for which rollbacks may be granted. Back to the text.
 In reviewing this matter on an earlier occasion, the ad hoc Committee on Retrenchment Policy, composed of members of the Chicago and Champaign-Urbana campuses and chaired by Werner Baur (Geology, UIC), prepared a draft report recommending the institution of a tenure management system, under which the Vice President for Academic Affairs, with the advise of a faculty Committee on Fiscal Policy, would "allocate tenure opportunities over each five-year planning horizon to individual campuses so as to achieve the proposed tenure ratio." Although the Committee attempted to distinguish between "the allocation of tenure ratios and opportunities" and the flat award of such "ratios and opportunities" on a "proportional basis," subsequent debate in the UIUC Senate made it clear that the Committee's suggestion of a reduction from the then-current 74% of the faculty that was tenured to 67% was regarded, in effect, as the imposition of a quota. (IlliniWeek Special Section, March 17, 1983; "Retrenchment Draft Attacked in hearing," IlliniWeek, April 7, 1983). Back to the text.
 As we note there, the Statutes do provide for suspension (or its virtual equivalent under "reassignment of duties") but only in the context of a contemplated dismissal for cause; see Article X, Section 1 (8). Back to the text.
 We ourselves prefer, and will hereafter use, the term "periodic evaluation of tenured faculty," to make it clear that the process is continuing and not one-time only, and to avoid the implication that prior to the invention of this term, there was never any such thing as evaluation after the award of tenure. When, for purposes of variety, we use the shorter form, "post-tenure" review, we may do so with the use of what a former English professor of one of the seminar's members used to call "hygienic quotation marks." Back to the text.
 Two case studies, one of them mildly critical of "post-tenure review" and the other generally supportive, are Marianne Wesson and Sandra Johnson's description of the activity as undertaken at the University of Colorado, "Post-Tenure Review and Faculty Revitalization," Academe (May-June 1991), 53-57, and Madeleine J. Goodman's study of a similar undertaking at the University of Hawaii, "The Review of Tenured Faculty: A Collegial Model," Journal of Higher Education, 61 (1990), 408-424. Back to the text.
 Though we have not examined this issue in depth, a preliminary analysis of the available data is suggestive. In AY 1990, 1993, and 1994, figures show that from 67% to 81% of retiring faculty at the University of Illinois were at the rank of Professor, and from 15% to 21% were at the rank of Associate Professor. The figures of 81% and 15% are drawn from 1994 retirements, which suggests that the award of tenure was followed by another rigorous review at the time of promotion to Professor. We can assume that the percentage of faculty retiring as Associate Professors will continue to decrease. (Data for Instructors and Assistant Professors retiring at those respective ranks is insignificant, since the University no longer awards tenure at those ranks). Table 4.2 expresses this data in another way: at Chicago and Urbana, from 2.1% to 2.4% of full-time faculty were retiring at the rank of Professor and from 0.4% to 0.7% at the rank of Associate Professor. Back to the text.
 A clearly unacceptable standard is offered in an early article on the subject of post-tenure review by Ernst Mayr, "Tenure, A Sacred Cow?", Science, 199 (24 March 1978), 1293. Mayr argues for a system in which, if the department committee had doubts about the continuation of a faculty member, those doubts would be referred to the administration. The administration would then appoint an ad hoc committee of peers from other institutions, presumably on the analogy of seeking external referees for the scholarship of a candidate for tenure, which would "make a final recommendation to be acted on by the president of the university." Here the analogy with the tenure process collapses, inasmuch as the proposal would remove the final recommendation from the person's campus peers altogether and insulates possibly countervailing contributions to teaching and service from scrutiny. It also seems probable that the chill already felt by some scholarly referees when suits are later brought against an institution for denial of tenure would merely be exacerbated under a new system in which referees were explicitly asked whether a person at another school should be terminated. Back to the text.
 Our intent here is to describe the "typical" case of an entering assistant professor who is promoted and granted tenure after a probationary period of service. We do not take into account special cases such as the hiring of senior faculty to whom the offer of tenure may be made upon arrival, or contracts in which tenure may be granted after a shorter probationary period to persons in certain practitioner fields who have not followed the traditional academic career pattern but whose expertise is regarded as sufficient to justify the offer of tenure. Back to the text.
 We do not have either methodologically or statistically comparable data available from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Back to the text.
 We acknowledge that the figures in the aggregate are somewhat misleading to the extent that they do not reflect the variance in pools: that is, a relatively small number of applicants may exist for some positions. Back to the text.
 It is worth pointing out here that the decrease in the ratio of new hires to applicants is experiencing an even greater impact from the increase in the labor supply than from a slightly smaller decrease in new jobs. Recall that Table 1 shows a rapid increase in the number of applicants for new positions over the last decade. Back to the text.
 This does not mean that such procedures may not already exist in portions of the University. We are aware that a form of "post-tenure review" is currently mandated under the UIS faculty collective bargaining agreement. Back to the text.
 Michael S. McPherson and Gordon C. Winston, "The Economics of Tenure: A Relational Perspective," in Michael S. McPherson, Morton Owen Schapiro, and Gordon C. Winston, eds., Paying the Piper: Productivity, Incentives, and Financing in U. S. Higher Education (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), pp. 124-125; Albert Rees and Sharon Smith, Faculty Retirement in the Arts and Sciences (cit. n. 31 above), pp. 92-93. Back to the text.
 Thus, for example, a scientist with a clear research direction who is supported by a multi-year grant would seem to have little need for such a development agreement. On the other hand, a once productive scientist now interested in a change of research direction or the initiation of a curricular study that would benefit his or her department might find such an agreement a validation of that change of direction. It would also serve as a protection against a future judgment of lack of merit based only on the fact that he or she had become less productive at carrying out an earlier research program. Back to the text.
 See, e.g., Neil Hamilton, Zealotry and Academic Freedom, New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publications, 1995. Back to the text.
 Matthew Finkin, The Case for Tenure (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), p. 196. Back to the text.
 "The committee holds that the concept of tenure for faculty must be defended and that the responsibility for honoring the tenure contract rests with the campus, and not the program, the department, or the University as a whole" (II. Definitions and Proposals). "The University will gain maximum advantage by construing tenure to reside at the campus level. Thus a campus has an obligation to employ a tenured faculty member if his or her unit is terminated" (Executive Summary #3). The committee, however, did not give a detailed rationale for this position, although it seemed to ground it in the principle of managerial flexibility, here asserted for the protection of the faculty member rather than to his or her detriment. Back to the text.
 In making these admittedly "barebones" comments on a matter which falls somewhat outside our purview, we are assuming that other prior conditions for the termination have been satisfied (e.g. determination by the appropriate faculty body of the educational wisdom of the decision to eliminate a unit, the offering of retraining to the individual, the right to appeal, and the right to be rehired before new faculty are brought in should educational grounds justify it and fiscal conditions so warrant.) Back to the text.
 A recent interesting variation on this theme has been offered by Adam Yarmolinsky, "Tenure: Permanence and Change," Change Magazine (May-June 1996), pp. 16-20. Yarmolinsky suggests that at the time of the initial hire, the locus of the prospective tenure contract be negotiated individually, with the option of periodic renegotiation but only for the purpose of broadening the locus of tenure commitment. He believes that "today's arbitrary definition of tenure, often broader than the scholar's actual capacities, will only burden the institution in a time of change" (20), and that the system he offers would provide incentives to faculty members who wished to broaden the scope of their teaching and research. It is not clear, however, whether Yarmolinsky is arguing that this right be extended to everyone, or whether, on the contrary, only the remarkable few would actually justify a claim to tenure at a level above that of the department. Back to the text.