This is the text of an email blast sent out by AAUP to 370,000 faculty, announcing the release of a draft report on conversion to tenure, co-authored by me, and featuring several examples of different ways that different institutions have moved to stabilize their faculty. We’ve already received over 150 comments, most positive and most thoughtful: direct yours to Gwendolyn Bradley. We anticipate issuing a final report early this spring. Hint: don’t miss the special section on the AAUP website.
The last four decades have seen a failure of the social contract in faculty employment.
With more than two-thirds of faculty working outside the tenure stream or for wages that would embarrass Wal-Mart, the once-reliable regime of professional peer scrutiny in hiring, evaluation, and promotion has all but collapsed.
The Profession Agrees
In opposition to this trend, a powerful new consensus is emerging that it is time to stabilize the crumbling faculty infrastructure.
Concerned legislatures and administrators have joined faculty associations in calling for dramatic reductions in the reliance on contingent appointments. But how shall we get there?
Conversion to Tenure
By far the best stabilization practices are those that include the rigorous professional peer scrutiny of the tenure system. Managerial plans for hiring and assessment rarely approach the level of scrutiny that faculty peers apply to themselves. There is no basis in AAUP policy for regarding those in teaching-intensive positions as second-class citizens or ineligible for tenure.
A new draft report surveys several noteworthy forms of stabilization practiced or planned at a variety of institutions, highlighting those that feature conversion to tenure for faculty already employed at the institution.
We invite your detailed comment. We have continued to research stabilization practices and will add further examples, comment, and analysis to the final report.
We’ll share some of this continuing research and comments on the AAUP Web site. We’ve just posted a special section discussing two unique contract provisions negotiated by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties: provision 11.G, which permits departments to convert persons to the tenure track, and provision 11.H, which permits conversion of lines.
Co-Chairs, Committee on Contingent Faculty and the Profession