Monday, September 17, 2012

St. Louis University faculty evaluations called an assault on tenure. From St. Louis Post Dispatch.


Everyone who thinks
they have tenure
please step forward.
Wait, not you.
A new faculty evaluation plan being considered by St. Louis University administrators is causing grumblings on campus along with claims that it would essentially abolish the school's tenure system.

The proposal would add a new "post-tenure review" process in which tenured faculty would essentially reapply for tenure every six years. It's something that critics say defeats the purpose of awarding tenure in the first place. Tenure generally shields a faculty member from job loss, except in cases of misconduct or financial emergency.

"This is exactly the opposite of what tenure is," said Robert Kreiser, senior program officer with the American Association of University Professors. "It effectively eviscerates the university's existing tenure system."

Kreiser said the AAUP isn't opposed to tenure review, as long as the burden of removing tenure remains with administrators. But according to his reading of SLU's proposal, the burden is shifted to the employee to demonstrate they are worthy of continued tenure.

The move comes as a surprise to Kreiser, who has been with the AAUP for three decades. While the organization has had some complaints from time to time with SLU, the school has long been one of the examples he offers to others looking for strong faculty policies.

"It's truly astonishing," he said. "It's hard to imagine the university will be able to recruit high-quality faculty in the future."



  1. University Spokesperson now: "Given the fact that these are only proposals, it would not be appropriate for us to discuss this matter in detail until such time that faculty members have an opportunity to provide their input."

    University Spokesperson in the future: "Given that these policies have now been adopted it would not be appropriate to discuss them at all."

  2. "It's hard to imagine the university will be able to recruit high-quality faculty in the future."

    It is not at all hard to imagine. You post a job ad. From the 300 applications, you invite the best three or four for an interview. One of them will take the job - any job. Since they are the best of 300, they are "high quality." They might not be among the top 10 in their field, but they'll be quite good.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. I appreciate the AAUP. It has done good work in the past, still does it now, and, I hope, will continue to do it in the future. But sometimes they seem tremendously out of touch with the realities of academia today, and that comment is one of them.

      The other sign of out-of-touchness is the yearly conventions with multi-hundred-dollar registration fees, held at fancy hotels. The couple of contingent labor conferences that have taken place have been held on university campuses in mid-late-summer, when there is cheap dorm housing available. If the AAUP wants to reach out to the majority of the academic labor force, they need to move in that direction.

  3. Here is an update as of September 18, 2012. SLU withdrew the proposal.


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