C. Gibaldi

Harvard & St. John's University (UNITED STATES)
This presentation will examine why tenure is truly necessary for educators to able to educate, research, and write and therefore make great contributions to the academic institutions they work within, their disciplines, students, and society. I will discuss how tenure provides a layer of protection, although not perfect, and how tenure has been under attack for the last two decades or so in the U.S. with the expansion of the business model being applied to academic institutions, and the hiring of professional administrators to lead colleges & universities.

It is known that tenured professors lend great stability to the colleges and universities that they work within and that the tenured granted after a rigorous 6 year process is fact granted to protect the faculty members academic freedom which all benefit from. The academic freedom that tenure provides can (and typically does) motivate faculty to write even more and to be even more innovative in their classroom teaching and research. The faculty member has an incentive to try new things but within the context of still being a good teacher and researcher, yet not being concerned with administrative threats or fear of punishment.

Tenure is the best protection against attacks on faculty members' academic freedom and freedom of speech. In the U.S. it has been amazing to see and experience how higher education, once highly respected and seen as a cornerstone of the U.S. culture, is now under frequent attack. The attack on tenure is often part of that attack on education, by those preferring to see colleges/universities run like corporations, with less emphasis on ideas, freedom of thought, true learning, etc. and more emphasis on profit, conformity, and an authoritarian obedience to authority. Perhaps now more than ever tenure needs to be protected.