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Post-Tenure Review: Helpful or Harmful?

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Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.

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Though some institutions are adopting post-tenure reviews as a means of professional development for their tenured faculty, the practice remains controversial in the academic world.

In an article published by Inside Higher Ed in May, reporter Colleen Flaherty interviewed administrators and faculty members at schools that have recently instituted mandatory post-tenure review processes, as well as representatives of schools considering the practice. The interviews found that some administrators believe strongly that post-tenure review helps to sharpen faculties, while some faculty advocates fear that the reviews may counteract the value of the tenure system.

Flaherty interviewed representatives of Westmont College and Suffolk University, which have instituted mandatory post-tenure reviews, as well as Ball State University, which is considering adding the reviews to its faculty evaluation process.

The article quoted Westmont College’s provost Mark Sargent as saying that the post-tenure review process is “designed to be enriching for anyone who goes through it, rather than something that’s designed to be a bureaucratic competency check for all faculty members.” Sargent said that procedure did not target under-performing faculty, but was aimed at helping all tenured faculty members grow as academics and teachers.

At Ball State, however, the proposed faculty review process “would enable administrators to pursue termination of professors whose performance was unsatisfactory for two consecutive years or three years out of five, after a one-year improvement plan failed to yield results,” the article says.

The proposed review system at Ball State and Suffolk universities have been criticized by some faculty members and advocates, who view the process as antithetical to the concept of tenure. A representative of the American Association of University Professors AAUP was quoted as saying that post-tenure review “is destroying tenure.”

The article goes on to cite AAUP’s position that post-tenure reviews “would bring scant benefit, would incur unacceptable costs, not only in money and time but also in dampening of creativity and of collegial relationships, and would threaten academic freedom.”

The Inside Higher Ed article is available here: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/05/02/colleges-try-new-approaches-post-tenure-review

Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.