Sunday, January 4, 2015

Professor Noel

"Not gonna lie, the highlight of 2014 for me was becoming a tenured associate professor. After 5 years post graduate education and 6 years working my butt off to prove I deserved the job- I get to keep doing what I love.
 — Noel Comolli McClure"

That was a year end FB post my one of my cousins, which gives me the opportunity to discuss the whole issue of tenure as it applies to higher education.

Noel spent 22 years in school (Kindergarten through Grad school), for the opportunity to teach!
She then spent 6 years teaching a full course load, doing research, serving on university committees, doing community service and serving on committees outside the university, and becoming published. (Noel is member of the American Institute for Chemical Engineers and the Society for Biomaterials) 

Failure to achieve any of these requirements would have made her ineligible for tenure.  
She also had to pass evaluations by the more senior professors on staff.

Only after passing all of this did she achieve tenure.

22 years of school
6 years of teaching
28 years of preparation.
All so that she gets what?

"I get to keep doing what I love."

You see, for professors, failure to achieve tenure means termination.
Not just a chance to continue working nontenured, but termination.

Let me ask for a show of hands.
How many out there willing to go through all this work, all these years, and possibly be terminated?
Then what?

Business school's looking better isn't it?

Lucky for us, educators love to teach.
They are willing to put themselves through what it takes.
Thank God they are.

Now Noel can continue to do what she loves, not guaranteed for life, but with the protection that if some administrator or some politician wants her fired, they have to show a just reason.

Tenure will allow her to teach.
It will allow her to speak freely on troubling issues and challenge those in power on curriculum, quality, and university ethics.
If she sees one group being discriminated against or another being granted "favors" she can speak out.
You see, the first amendment guarantees freedom of speech, but it does not guarantee job protection if you speak out.

"Just cause" does that.
In the private sector, it comes with a union contract.
Tenure is what they call "just cause" in education.

Congratulations Noel, to you and all the tenured professors, and thank you for your dedication to the service of education.

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