The University Record, December 19, 1994

Tenure statement spells out privileges, responsibilities

By Mary Jo Frank

Contrary to what some faculty and others may believe, tenure doesn’t give a faculty member the right to sit back and rest on one’s laurels, says Ruth Barnard, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) Standing Subcommittee on Tenure.

The Senate Assembly last Monday unanimously endorsed a statement by the subcommittee titled “Toward A Definition of Tenure” that outlines the rights and responsibilities of those who hold tenured positions.

Subcommittee member Kent Syverud said the statement can serve as a standard “we all ought to be meeting on a regular basis.”

The Regents do not need to formally approve the statement, Syverud said, but they ought to see it and they could contradict it.

Each unit has it own criteria for appointing senior faculty, Barnard noted. The University doesn’t have a definition of tenure, except as defined by the opposite of Bylaw 5.09, which covers the dismissal or demotion of a tenured faculty member. Regents Bylaw 5.09 is rarely invoked, the subcommittee noted.

The subcommittee says responsibilities of tenure include:

-- Faculty should endeavor to teach classes carefully and competently. Faculty should prepare adequately for each class, should strive consistently to improve their performance in the classroom, and should keep abreast of new scholarly work and teaching materials in their field and, where appropriate, update their teaching to reflect developments.

-- Faculty should be reasonably available to their students outside class for advice, counseling, and instruction on matters related to the students’ classwork and academic programs.

-- Faculty should consistently endeavor to produce scholarship of the quality and quantity that is expected of untenured faculty.

-- Faculty should serve their units, schools, the University and the public through service activities, including governance, administration and participation in the life of the academic community, the University and the public.

-- Faculty should adhere to what is generally considered ethical behavior in all their professional dealings with students, colleagues, staff and persons outside the University.

Privileges of tenure, according to the subcommittee, include:

-- Continued employment until voluntary retirement or resignation.

-- Economic security that cannot be compromised based on scholarship or teaching that falls within the limits of academic freedom, and that includes adequate salary and benefits, which are not reduced during the time of employment except for adequate cause and after fair procedures.

-- Continued institutional support for teaching and scholarship, including, at a minimum, reasonable and equitable teaching assignments in line with fair criteria and procedures (preferably in writing), as well as adequate classroom, library and laboratory and office facilities. Academic freedom is endangered if faculty members risk losing this support because of the ideas they teach and write about.

-- Continued involvement in the academic mission of the University and the unit in which the faculty member serves, including participation in faculty decisions on hiring and promotion, teaching, curriculum, etc.

According to the subcommittee, serious infringement of any one, or any combination, of these four privileges of tenure qualities as a “demotion”under Regents Bylaw 5.09.