Questions Of Tenure / Edition 1

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Tenure is the abortion issue of the academy, igniting arguments and inflaming near-religious passions. To some, tenure is essential to academic freedom and a magnet to recruit and retain top-flight faculty. To others, it is an impediment to professorial accountability and a constraint on institutional flexibility and finances. But beyond anecdote and opinion, what do we really know about how tenure works?

In this unique book, Richard Chait and his colleagues offer the results of their research on key empirical questions. Are there circumstances under which faculty might voluntarily relinquish tenure? When might new faculty actually prefer non-tenure track positions? Does the absence of tenure mean the absence of shared governance? Why have some colleges abandoned tenure while others have adopted it? Answers to these and other questions come from careful studies of institutions that mirror the American academy: research universities and liberal arts colleges, including both highly selective and less prestigious schools.

Lucid and straightforward, The Questions of Tenure offers vivid pictures of academic subcultures. Chait and his colleagues conclude that context counts so much that no single tenure system exists. Still, since no academic reward carries the cachet of tenure, few institutions will initiate significant changes without either powerful external pressures or persistent demands from new or disgruntled faculty.

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Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun

[A] thoughtfully constructed book that brings light to several aspects of tenure and related issues, where, until now, there has been mostly a good bit of heat and smoke.
— Stephen Vicchio

Baltimore Sun - Stephen Vicchio
[A] thoughtfully constructed book that brings light to several aspects of tenure and related issues, where, until now, there has been mostly a good bit of heat and smoke.
Baltimore Sun
[A] thoughtfully constructed book that brings light to several aspects of tenure and related issues, where, until now, there has been mostly a good bit of heat and smoke.
— Stephen Vicchio
Library Journal
Most books about academic tenure are based on anecdotal or subjective information, but this one attempts to analyze this contentious topic using empirical research. Chait (higher education, Harvard; Beyond Traditional Tenure) and several colleagues collected faculty employment policy statements from over 200 colleges and universities and then surveyed and interviewed many professors and administrators on a variety of topics related to tenure. This provided the data for the 11 chapters, which range from an overview of current policies to a study of trends in academic employment in foreign countries. Particularly interesting are the discussions about tenure as a hiring incentive and whether faculty might ever voluntarily relinquish tenure, plus the comparison of four U.S. colleges where faculty can earn tenure with four where tenure is not an option. Many tables, figures, and bibliographical references supplement the clearly written text, and a closing chapter on how data can be used to augment decision making cautions that at times tenure's emotional aspects defy numerical evidence. Highly recommended for academic libraries. Will Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674016040
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/20/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard P. Chait is Professor of Higher Education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Charles Clofelter is Professor of Public Policy Studies and Economics at Duke University. He is also Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures



Richard P. Chait

1. Why Tenure? Why Now?

Richard P. Chait

2. What Is Current Policy?

Cathy A. Trower

3. Does Faculty Governance Differ at Colleges with Tenure and Colleges without Tenure?

Richard P. Chait

4. Can the Tenure Process Be Improved?

R. Eugene Rice, Mary Deane Sorcinelli

5. What Happened to the Tenure Track?

Roger G. Baldwin, Jay L. Chronister

6. How Are Faculty Faring in Other Countries?

Philip G. Altbach

7. Can Colleges Competitively Recruit Faculty without the Prospect of Tenure?

Cathy A. Trower

8. Can Faculty Be Induced to Relinquish Tenure?

Charles T. Clotfelter

9. Why Is Tenure One College's Problem and Another's Solution?

William T. Mallon

10. How Might Data Be Used?

Cathy A. Trower, James P. Honan

11. Gleanings

Richard P. Chait



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