By SILAS MIRANDA
Tenure is an earned status by educators that both reinforces job security as well as provides an increased status. While the information surrounding tenure is available on the AC website, it doesn’t appear to be something of common knowledge to the majority of students.
A possible reason why there is a limited knowledge of tenure may be the fact that the process to gain tenure is both complicated and lengthy. “Tenure is granted to faculty who have worked at AC for seven years or more and who are able to demonstrate that they’re doing a really good job,” Bill Netherton, an AC English professor with tenure, said. “You have to petition for tenure and send your evidence to the ‘Rank and Tenure Committee,’ and they decide if you meet the qualifications, and if you do, they recommend that you be awarded tenure to the VPAA, and if she agrees, she recommends it to the Board of Regents, and they make the final decision,” he added.
The limited knowledge of tenure may also be reinforced by its scarce availability. “Not everybody who petitions for tenure gets it, for one reason or another. Also, each department has a certain number of tenure positions, so even if you meet all the qualifications, you might not be able to receive it,” Netherton said.
Along with that, tenure is earned through several steps over the course of many years. “There are steps… instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and full professor,” Mary Dodson, another AC English Professor with tenure, said. The work involved varies from educator to educator.
By having tenure, an educator has a variety of benefits at their disposal. For starters, there are the essentials of an ideal work promotion. “Each ‘step’ results in minor financial increases. More importantly, I think it gives the individual a sense of accomplishment,” Dodson said.
One of the more prominent benefits is job security, meaning that it’s harder to be fired if you have tenure. “I think it would be harder for a tenured faculty member to get fired, though I’m sure some people would disagree. There is legal precedent that if cuts have to be made for, say, economic reasons, non-tenured people would be let go before tenured (which is why there are only a certain number of tenure positions in a department),” Netherton said. “However, tenure does not mean that a tenured faculty can slack off or do anything they want and not be fired, as some people believe,” he added.
The added protection tenure adds to an educator’s position allows for potential new experimentation as well.