President Jim Danko announced the newly promoted and tenured faculty at Butler University on March 22 through a campus wide e-mail.
Tenure is a virtually permanent guarantee of employment that has a long history in universities around the world.
Although it is exciting to welcome professors to a permanent spot at Butler, tenure presents some challenges.
It allows professors who are no longer as passionate about teaching to remain at the university.
It is frustrating that the university may dismiss students for failing academic standards but does not do the same to faculty members.
As class evaluation season draws near, students might wonder how much these surveys really matter—especially in light of the tenure question.
Deans and students should be allowed to review tenure status in extreme circumstances.
The overall impact of education is lost when faculty lose sight of their role in the classroom.
Professors who may otherwise consider moving on might stay.
And non-tenure track professors may have less motivation to go above and beyond their expectations.
Others settle on one particular teaching style, not choosing to review the class surveys.
And non-tenure-track faculty cannot become tenured even with amazing reviews.
The university should not consider removing tenure since the frustrating cases are rare.
But this infrequency makes it all the more important to have options.
Butler as a whole employs amazing, passionate individuals who give a huge amount of their lives to our education.
That emphasis on teaching is a major deal-maker for prospective students.
The majority of faculty takes teaching incredibly seriously and works hard to keep classes engaging and informative.
Butler needs to do everything it can to prevent them from losing out to faculty who hold tenure.
Reasons to review tenure should not include demanding standards for students or a reputation as a tough grader.
Those aspects can make a good professor.
But some sort of recourse is necessary when advisers and other faculty members recommend avoiding certain professors’ courses.
When common knowledge dictates that some professors have arbitrary standards, something needs to be done.
Avoiding the problem does not solve it.
Potentially tenured faculty members find themselves accountable to the Board of Trustees.
Obviously, tenured positions are vital.
Professors have jobs that shouldn’t be subject to the market or whims of administration.
They should instead have the ability to focus on their purpose: educating the students.
However, if tenured professors have no accountability to their students, administrators or peers, they may sometimes lose their willingness to adapt.
Solutions include taking evaluations more seriously or having a defined and publicized process through which complaints can be brought.
Students have a unique perspective of professors and see them at work constantly.
Students should be pushed and challenged but not subjected to an ineffective professor.