Labor & Work-Life Issues

AAUP to Universities: Tenure Is Not Just for Researchers

September 06, 2010

In a new report, the Association of American University Professors continues to push for a tenure system that includes contingent faculty members—both full-time and part-time—who are the backbone of the professoriate.

The report, "Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments," released by the association's Committee on Contingency and the Profession, says that tenure "was not designed as a merit badge for research-intensive faculty or as a fence to exclude those with teaching-intensive commitments." Instead, the report calls for bringing non-tenure-track faculty members into the tenure stream as a way to "stabilize the faculty" and outlines various ways to do so that have found success at institutions nationwide.

Marc Bousquet, an associate professor of English at Santa Clara University, and Mayra Besosa, a full-time lecturer in Spanish at California State University at San Marcos, are co-chairs of the committee. Mr. Bousquet, in a written statement, warned that students will ultimately pay for higher education's reliance on contingent faculty.

"In 1970, most undergraduates took nearly all of their class from tenure-eligible faculty, most with terminal degrees in their fields," Mr. Bousquet said. "This fall, however, at many institutions, a first-year student is more likely to drop out than ever to meet a tenure-track professor."

The report is the final form of a draft report published last October.