Tenure – but for whom?

Posted in Legal issues on September 11th, 2011 by steve

“I am sure that readers of this blog do not need me to rehearse the arguments for tenure in higher education. Whether you agree with it or not, it has been one of the principles underpinning higher education …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 11 September]

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Speaking Up for Tenure

Posted in Legal issues on August 22nd, 2011 by steve

“Perhaps, as critics and even some supporters claim, the tenure system as we know it is on its way out. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to sit idly by and watch it go without a fight …” (more)

[Rob Jenkins, Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 August]

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‘Pattern of plagiarism’ costs scholar his job

Posted in Legal issues on August 21st, 2011 by steve

“A faculty panel has substantiated a ‘pattern of plagiarism’ on the part of a tenured University of Utah political scientist, but in a split decision declined to recommend firing him or revoking his tenure. That lifeline was severed, however, by a senior administrator who overruled the panel, known as the Consolidated Hearing Committee, and fired Bahman Bakhtiari …” (more)

[Brian Maffly, University World News, 21 August]

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Starting a Tenure Box

Posted in Life on August 5th, 2011 by steve

“As a first-time tenure-track assistant professor, I’m already looking down the road to the different stages of tenure review. Academia has a number of different hurdles, often based on assessment of productivity over spans of years. So whether you’re in the same position as me, further down the line, or starting to think about the job market, it’s worth building good habits in personal archiving …” (more)

[Anastasia Salter, Chronicle of Higher Education, 4 August]

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Untenuring Tenure

Posted in Legal issues on May 29th, 2011 by steve

“Should tenure be abolished? Naomi Schaefer Riley argues that it should. Her new book, The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For, is a Navy Seal Team Six-style assault on Fortress Tenure: quick, precise, and conducted with air of finality …” (more)

[Peter Wood, Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 May]

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Colleges should be free to ‘hire and fire’

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on May 13th, 2011 by steve

“Third-level colleges should be able to ‘hire and fire’ academic staff, Higher Education Authority chairman John Hennessy has said. In an address likely to enrage many academics, Mr Hennessy, a former head of Ericsson Ireland, said higher education needs to move closer to the values and practices of the private sector …” (more)

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 13 May]

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Exercising only their minds

Posted in Life on May 9th, 2011 by steve

“In the quest for tenure, physical activity is the first casualty, according to a recent study of Canadian assistant professors that its authors believe applies to junior faculty at institutions in the United States as well. The analysis, Are new faculty at risk of ‘letting themselves go’ due to the demands of their profession?, which was published online in Academic Matters, the magazine of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, traced the exercise habits of 267 assistant professors in Canadian universities …” (more)

[Dan Berrett, Times Higher Education, 9 May]

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Tenure; a political, not a legal or IR issue

Posted in Legal issues on March 13th, 2011 by steve

“With the recent change of government, we are finally in the endgame. The 1997 act required university admin to cater for the ‘tenure’ of officers, without saying what that is; likewise, the supreme court’s Susan Denham, when pressed on the issue by DCU’s barrister Sreenan, refused to define it on the grounds that she would then be ‘legislating’ …” (more)

[University Blog on Academic Tenure in Ireland, 12 March]

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Tenure track system

Posted in Governance and administration on March 5th, 2011 by steve

“#tcdprovost tenure track system is the only modern way to hire academics & have significant probation time” (tweet)

[Stefano Sanvito, Twitter, 5 March]

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How to Save Academic Freedom

Posted in Legal issues on February 28th, 2011 by steve

“Tenure is disappearing. Corporate and government interests are interfering with academic research. And since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos, the courts are suggesting that faculty members who speak out on governance may be punished, and even fired …” (more)

[Erin O’Connor and Maurice Black, Inside Higher Ed, 28 February]

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The destruction of academic tenure in Ireland

Posted in Legal issues on February 16th, 2011 by steve

“Academic tenure is currently gone in Ireland; this post specifies what happened. It was SIPTU’s fault, and I’ll end with speculation about SIPTU’s motives – in particular the cabal of SIPTU officials with extreme left-wing political histories. No names will be mentioned …” (more)

[University Blog on Academic Tenure in Ireland, 15 February]

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Statement by Campaign for academic Freedom in Reply to Irish Universities Association

Posted in Governance and administration on February 12th, 2011 by steve

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) issued a statement on February 4 in response to a call to defend the principle of tenure on which academic freedom is based. This call, signed by 160 academics, was published in the Irish Times on January 20.

We note that the IUA has no authority to speak on behalf of Irish universities. It is a private company of which the seven university presidents are directors.

In its response, the IUA could have given clear assurances that it was opposed to any changes to the relevant clauses in the Universities Act. As the law of the land trumps industrial relations processes, we would have taken considerable comfort from such a declaration.

As it is, however, the IUA makes no such declaration. Indeed, the IUA statement is replete with ambiguity and dissimulation. Most remarkably, it suggests that the principle of tenure might be seen as protecting academics from dismissal for misconduct, though this is not the case.

The IUA statement is causing increased concern in the academic community.

Steve Hedley, Professor of Law at UCC, and a signatory to the call, has given a detailed reply to the statement on the blog Ninth Level Ireland.

The IUA states: “What we must do as a foundation for that defence (of academic freedom – PH), is to distinguish between freedom and licence. This is what we are seeking to do in the proposed contractual provision which states that it is to be acknowledged that the freedoms which are contained in Section 14 of the Universities Act are to be exercised in the context of the framework of rights and obligations contained in the contract.”

It should be understood that the contract to which the IUA refers is not the existing contract but a new contract to be put in place pursuant to the Public Services Agreement (Croke Park Deal).

Steve Hedley comments: “The other, and more pessimistic, interpretation (of the IUA statement – PH) is that academic contracts are to be read as limiting the guarantee in the Universities Act – in other words, that academic freedom should only exist to the extent that each academic’s contract allows for it. This is extremely worrying. Academic freedom is, in large part, freedom from university management – and so is not worth much if it can be removed by a simple clause in an employment contract, drafted by that same university management. I don’t know what is intended here; and I certainly hope that this reading is wrong. But if the object of the statement was to reassure, then it has failed in its object.”

On the question of tenure the IUA states: “Here, we are seeking to establish that tenure is consistent with the established corpus of employment law and, in that context, refers to the duration of contract. However, the concept of tenure dates from a time when employment law was much less well developed. We now have a national legal framework incorporating, inter alia, the Unfair Dismissals and Fixed Term Workers Acts which provide considerable protections to employees generally. We strongly support employment security for staff.”

Steve Hedley comments:

“With that introduction, the IUA statement gives a number of reasons why tenure is positively undesirable. Tenure is an ‘amorphous concept which somehow subsists in a parallel realm’ to the rest of employment law; this ‘creates ambiguity, and at worst, creates the impression that tenure will be advanced to create an absolute prohibition on dismissal or sanction, even in the worst and thankfully extremely rare cases of misconduct’ … The solution is ‘to establish that tenure is consistent with the established corpus of employment law and, in that context, refers to the duration of contract’. This seems to mean that tenure, properly understood, should only mean that each academic’s contract lasts as long as it lasts – in other words, that ‘tenure’ is to be all but meaningless, adding nothing to ordinary employment rights.”

To be clear: the signatories of the January 20 letter never suggested that tenure could or should preclude disciplinary procedures in cases of misconduct and/or breach of duty. Academics have never been “unsackable” on foot of such allegations as some commentators and propagandists have claimed. Nor have they been absolutely free to exercise their academic freedom (or responsibility?) to defend academic values without fear or favour. As a number of documented Irish cases show, some of them have been subjected to harassment and intimidation for speaking out in defence of academic standards and intellectual integrity, even if they haven’t been subjected to the ultimate silencing, namely redundancy.

It is because tenure confers immunity from this ultimate abuse of power that it is internationally recognised as essential to academic freedom by UNESCO and by other international bodies such as Education International. And it is because academic freedom as currently protected by Irish law is such a fundamental principle of democracy that all repressive regimes have sought to eliminate or to limit that freedom.

Instead of allaying the concerns that we expressed in our original letter, the IUA response has heightened them.

Following persistent work by the IFUT Branch, the Board of Trinity College has already issued a declaration in support of academic freedom and tenure in December 2010.

We therefore call now on the governing authorities of all academic institutions to dissociate themselves from the IUA statement and to issue a similar declaration.

Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Convenor of Gathering for Academic Freedom
On behalf of the Signatories to the Call
88 Griffith Court,
Dublin 3

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Questioning Tenure

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on February 3rd, 2011 by steve

“Ron Stolle demonstrated considerable nerve last week by publishing an opinion piece calling for the end of tenure. (He’s an Assistant Professor at Kent State in Ohio.) The need for eliminating tenure stems, he argues, from the unsustainable increases in tuition increases …” (more)

[Higher Education Management Group, 2 February]

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Tenure and academic freedom in the news

Posted in Legal issues on January 31st, 2011 by steve

“The rather arcane principles of academic tenure and academic freedom, which have long featured on this blog, have recently moved close to the centre of industrial relations debate and political discussion …” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 31 January]


Defending academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on January 27th, 2011 by steve

“Madam, – Dr Ed Walsh challenges the prevailing framework of academic tenure in Irish higher education (Education Today, January 25th). This is welcome. However his implied recommendation to adopt the approach of many US institutions who award nine- month contracts renewed on multiple occasions is flawed …” (more)

[Westley Forsythe, Irish Times, 27 January]

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Finding the muscle to fix our failing education system

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on January 25th, 2011 by steve

“It is time to stop commissioning reports and tiptoeing around the teacher unions. Ireland is being left behind with an inferior school system and it’s up to the new Minister for Education to stop the decline …” (more)

[Ed Walsh, Irish Times, 25 January]

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Lecturers protest over Croke Park deal

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on January 24th, 2011 by steve

“More than 200 university and institute of technology lecturers met in Dublin on Saturday to protest against the implementation of the Croke Park agreement in third-level institutions. The group, which met in the Gresham Hotel, is seeking to protect the right of academics to permanency and tenure until retirement age …” (more)

[Joanne Hunt, Irish Times, 24 January]

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In defence of academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration on January 24th, 2011 by steve

“This is the opening speech by Paddy Healy (former President of the Teachers Union of Ireland) delivered to the meeting of Irish academics on January 22 in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 24 January]

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Academic tenure in the Universities Act, 1997

Posted in Legal issues on January 18th, 2011 by steve

“… In earlier posts on this blog, I have looked at various issues relating to the various legal protections of academic freedom and at the concomitant concept of academic tenure as a matter of principle. In today’s post, I want to look at it as a matter of law …” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 18 January]

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Eliminating tenure would save money

Posted in Governance and administration on January 16th, 2011 by steve

“… Our state legislators need to question why the costs of higher education are rising faster than the rate of medical costs and triple the inflation rate. The state’s budget crisis provides an opportunity to make meaningful change in both the cultural and cost structures of our colleges and universities …” (more)

[Ron Stolle, The Columbus Dispatch, 15 January]

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