Monday, February 8, 2016

Brutal Working Conditions

Instead of heading into your boss's office to demand a raise, you might want to consider asking for tenure instead.  Last week, the UW Board of Regents approved a new policy on tenure for faculty which became "necessary" after the Legislature eliminated those job protections from state statutes.

The new tenure tenets are seen as being "tougher" than what UW professors enjoyed in the past.  There will now be actual job performance reviews--conducted every five years.  Yes, we will now take a look at how good or bad a job someone is doing in the classroom every five years--which is an improvement from the total lack of any performance review ever under the previous tenure policy.  How would you like it if you never got any feedback on the job you were doing for five years?  Wouldn't you wonder about your performance at some point?  Wouldn't you want to know if you are getting better or worse at what you do?  Or would you just assume that you were great--and there's no point in having someone tell you that.

Those not meeting the standards will come under a tight control--as they will have to show improvement within 18-months or face the possibility of termination.  I don't know how someone could expect to sleep under the pressure of having a year and a half to show some kind of improvement in what they do.  And even then, quite possibly still not get fired for failure to get better.

The most "controversial" provision in the new tenure policy is that Chancellors now have the authority to terminate programs--and the professors that teach them--for financial reasons.  That could mean bad news for the tenured instructors that teach 17th Century Russian Literature attended by six students a year or courses dealing with celebrity culture that have zero academic merit but appeal to kids obsessed with stardom.  They may have to go, to make room for professors that teach math or science.

The arguments offered by those who oppose the changes and wanted to keep the old tenure rules break down into two categories: 1--This is the way it has always been and 2--That is the standard in Academics.  To which we should reply: 1--I guess we should go back to just putting babies in boxes on the front seats of cars instead of car seats then and 2--If everyone else is jumping off a cliff, that means we have to as well?

I'd work a little harder on this My Two Cents--but my review isn't for another four and a half years.

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