The Business Case for Tenure
Ursula Whitcher
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Universities without tenure would be a very different place. We depend on faculty doing a great deal of work that “doesn’t pay,” but makes universities a better place: mentoring students outside of the classroom, taking part in running the university. Without tenure, I can’t imagine why anyone would take on low-level administrative jobs or invest deeply in working with students (especially undergrads). I’ve found those kinds of work rewarding personally — I’ve got two students presenting at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research again this year — and I appreciate the gratitude that students and their families have offered me over the years. That work is good for my students, but objectively it isn’t good for my career. If we want that work to keep happening at universities, we need tenure systems and the expectation that tenured faculty will take on that service to students and the university as “good citizens.”

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