Concerns, and Consensus
Lilienfeld, Associate Professor of Psychology, Guest Editor
could gauge the health of a university community by how well it
handles the unconventional individuals. Its an unhealthy university
that cant tolerate or deal with those sorts of folks.
John Snarey, Professor of Human Development and Ethics, President
of the Faculty Council
tenure process doesnt have to manage you; you can manage it.
Sandy Jap, Associate Professor of Marketing
in the Medical School
What is it, and
what does it mean?
By Robert Pollack
(To the tune of Señor by Bob Dylan)
Review and the Public
The thorny question of post-tenure review
Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English
Tenure and Research at Emory
A view from the inside
Claire E. Sterk, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health
Conceptions and misconceptions at Emory
Robert McCauley, Professor of Philosophy
a Criterion for Tenure?
Why its not all politics
Ann Hartle, Professor of Philosophy
1992, Daniel Kirschenbaum received the surprise of his life. Kirschenbaum
was a tenured psychologist in the medical school at Northwestern
University. There, he ran an eating disorders clinic and conducted
research, much of it published in well regarded peer-reviewed journals,
on obesity and weight regulation. Nevertheless, for some time Kirschenbaums
clinic had apparently been running at a net financial loss.
One day in 1992, Kirschenbaum
arrived at work to find himself locked out of his office. Adding
insult to injury, Northwestern had removed him from his job as clinic
director and eliminated his salary. Kirschenbaum was left with nothing
but tenure and title.
In 1998, Kirschenbaum filed suit against Northwestern, but he lost
on the grounds that he had a zero-based salary contract,
meaning that the medical school was legally obligated to pay him
nothing. Northwestern officials further argued that the Kirschenbaum
case represented no threat to the concept of tenure.
Nevertheless, this case raises troubling questions. If tenure technically
guarantees nothing but a title, what does it really mean? Moreover,
does not the Kirschenbaum case suggest that the dual raison dêtre
for tenure outlined by the American Association of University Professors,
namely, the protection of academic freedom and the assurance of
economic security, is largely illusory?
Is the Kirschenbaum case an aberration, or is it a harbinger of
dire things to come in medical schools and perhaps other university
To obtain some insight into such questions, I spoke recently with
Judith Fridovich-Keil, a tenured faculty member in the Emory School
of Medicine Department of Human Genetics. Fridovich-Keil admits
that when she arrived at Emory twelve years ago, she had never
really thought about what tenure means. Instead, she remembers,
All I knew was that I wanted to pursue an academic career
in biomedical science and assumed that if I did a good job, tenure
would follow. She adds that all of my previous mentors
had tenure at their institutions, and they told me that I should
only apply for tenure-track positions, which is what I did.
Fridovich-Keil explains that most of her colleagues at Emory are,
like herself, intrinsically motivated. That is, they are doing their
jobs because they genuinely like what they do, rather than because
they fear punishment from the administration. She notes that she
has never observed a faculty member in her department abuse
the tenure system. Nevertheless she acknowledges that the true meaning
of tenure remains unclear, given the apparent lack of a legal guarantee
of salary, lab space, or office. As many universities tighten their
financial belts, she muses, will the original concept of tenure
become increasingly endangered? And if so, what will that change
mean for faculty?
The other question Fridovich-Keil raises concerns expectations for
tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty. In her department, faculty
members are on one of three tracks: tenure track, clinical track,
or research track. As a member of the Emory Passages
faculty mentoring program, she is frequently asked by junior faculty
members on one of the latter two tracks whether it would be advantageous
to try to move onto the tenure track. She says she often feels stumped
by this question, not really knowing what the different expectations
and rewards are for the different tracks. In short, is life
better on the tenure track? For example, are tenure-track
faculty members expected to publish more papers and secure more
extramural grant funding than are non-tenure-track faculty members?
Are tenure-track salaries higher than non-tenure-track salaries?
Again, Fridovich-Keil contends, for many faculty colleagues with
whom she has worked, the differences in expectations and accompanying
reward structure are not always clear.
When asked how the tenure system could be improved, Fridovich-Keil
returns to the issue of communication. She feels it is unrealistic
for departments or units to generate specific immutable lists
of requirements for tenure. Instead, she maintains, regularideally,
annualperformance reviews and meetings with departmental chairpersons
should be mandatory. In her own case, she says, regular performance
feedback and communication have proven invaluable. S.L.
Interested readers may also wish to consult Tenure in the
Medical School, Academe, January-February 1996, 4045.
Do you know where its hidin?
How many papers am I gonna be writin?
How much external cash must I secure?
Will there be any spark left by tenure?
They say publish or perish
Committee work makes it hellish
Teaching well leaves time for nothin more
Higher education fails due to tenure
Well the last thing I remember
Fore I stripped and kneeled
Were the full professors in black leather and high heels
The chairman says Im sorry, theres no vacant slot
And besides we want to hire somebody young and hot.
True freedom of thought
Cant be federally bought
After six years your co-option is for sure
Do you think we should abolish it?