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View Diary: Florida Governor Rick Scott Takes Aim at University Tenure (205 comments)

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  •  I'm non-tenure track faculty (28+ / 0-)

    but I've been around a lot of tenured faculty in quite a few departments.  Faculty who are genuinely coasting seem relatively rare to me.  What is common is older faculty who have stopped do research and now do extra teaching/research.  In my experience that seems to be a fairly standard expectation.  My boss at my previous job was in her 60s and did minimal research but was one of the hardest working people I have ever seen.

    What is a problem, that has relatively little to do with tenure - is the 'rewarding' of bad teachers.  They get moved to smaller upper level classes where they will have less impact on the students.  While the good teachers get assigned to the really big classes.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 12:25:01 PM PDT

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    •  That's fairly common, I think. (6+ / 0-)

      From what I've heard -- and I'm not an academic -- most professors do their best work in their 30s/40s/50s.  After that they've mostly produced and developed their best ideas and tend to focus more on teaching.

      Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

      by Drew J Jones on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 03:26:22 PM PDT

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      •  I think it depends on the field and the person (11+ / 0-)

        I've seen early bloomers and late ones.

        "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

        by mitumba on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 03:38:41 PM PDT

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        •  True. nt (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc

          Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

          by Drew J Jones on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 03:45:15 PM PDT

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        •  It depends a LOT on the field. For example, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lisa Roney, mitumba

          mathematicians usually mature and are most productive very early in their careers (Erdos etc. excepted) whereas biologists are often very productive and influential right up to their deaths in old age- T. Dobzhansky etc.

          As for academic deadwood, it exists, but was almost non-existent in my experience. I was faculty at an R1 institution until I moved to Industry and Federal service (and back to Industry) and I knew of perhaps two individuals who one might categorize as "dead wood". There was one additional person who essentially became mentally ill from stress disability and claimed they could no longer work. But these two or three were out of quite a few people. I'll bet few non-academic places can match the work output (or stress levels) of University faculties at the major research institutions. When I left the University, I had 384 hours of unused vacation time. One simply could not take one's vacation and expect to keep up.

          •  Our HR department (0+ / 0-)

            just sent a note to the college, asking why so many chairs hadn't used any vacation time last year. They (and, unfortunately, the dean's office) assumed it was an indication that we were dishonest. I was amazed that it didn't occur to anyone that we didn't use vacation time because we hadn't taken any vacation.

            "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

            by mitumba on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 12:33:49 PM PDT

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      •  And what is wrong with teaching? (20+ / 0-)

        I am an older faculty member (60) and have opted out of the committee/administration suck-up part of my job, but I still give 100% in my classes.  I like my students and feel like I owe it to them.  And, having taught for so long, I feel that I have a lot to give them.   Experience in the classroom, added to dedication to one's students, makes for a superior "product."

        I have given up writing for publication in academic journals, because--frankly--what's the use?  So few people read these articles.  Peer review is good for judging who has the scholarship skills and the smarts to get tenure and promotion.  But after that?  I still write, but I aspire to publish in more popular genres.

        "I don't want to blame anyone. I just want to know how lowering taxes on the rich creates jobs" --Informed citizen at Congressional town hall

        by Time Waits for no Woman on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 03:40:32 PM PDT

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        •  There's nothing wrong with it. (6+ / 0-)

          It's where the best teaching is done in my experience.

          Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

          by Drew J Jones on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 03:45:06 PM PDT

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        •  We need (8+ / 0-)

          more public intellectuals. Unfortunately, in the US it's not a thing people understand. Still exists in Europe and elsewhere. Here we have pundits instead. I certainly understand and respect the choice to devote one's time to students.

          I still publish (as a full professor) because there are things I want to say. I'm not interested in racking up CV lines for their own sake, though. It has to matter. So, the public intellectual stuff has a certain appeal for me too.

          "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

          by mitumba on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 03:45:43 PM PDT

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        •  I love teaching (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc, Time Waits for no Woman

          I wish my job allowed me to devote more time to it.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 05:04:54 PM PDT

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        •  You've stopped doing research? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shesk

          I have given up writing for publication in academic journals, because--frankly--what's the use?  So few people read these articles.

          So basically you're taking up a tenure slot while scholars who are hungry to publish and be successful are shut out. Great.

          Anyone can get a position as an adjunct or non-tenure-track lecturer and teach all you want. Tenure means that you are a productive scholar in your field. When faculty get tenure and then stop producing good work, it makes the rest of the tenure system look bad. You should think about transitioning to administration, and free up that TT slot for a younger, hungrier new faculty member. That's what administration is for-- a nice outlet for faculty who have had enough of research and want to find another way to contribute.

          •  Why move an experienced teacher to admin? (5+ / 0-)

            One of my biggest problems with the System is the 'Publish or perish' mentality.

            Yes, publishing is expected and needed, but there are many 'great' professors that bring in millions of dollars in grant money that are TERRIBLE teachers.  Why not balance this by letting the professors who are good at teaching do that, and let the money-makers do what they do best, maybe running labs and dealing with grad students and upper level undergrad classes?

            As a high school teacher, I hate seeing great teachers move to become administrators.  Yes, we need quality admin, but it's ironic to me that we take these great teachers out of the trenches where they can do their best work.

            •  My experience is as a student then and staff now; (3+ / 0-)

              I see great professors who are essentially CEO's of an amazing research group. I also had profs as an undergrad a zillion years ago who are emeritus now, but taught well and god bless them for still being around as emeriti- I don't grudge them whatever resources they "consume" doing what they choose to do, because they are not really a drag.

              One prof in particular had us do an experiment in freshman Physics showing we could detect a single photon interfering with itself as it passed through a slit, and you could see this happen with the naked eye- an inspiring teaching moment I've never forgotten! He's emeritus now and I don't care if he doesn't teach and doesn't publish, he's a treasure for our University; if our state legislature doesn't appreciate him, tough!

            •  At my university, administrators are still (0+ / 0-)

              teaching, quite a bit actually.  Maybe she can do both.

              Alan Grayson: "In 2010, my district and everywhere else in Florida, Republican turnout was in the sixties. Democratic turnout was in the forties." Think about it.

              by alliedoc on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 12:56:48 PM PDT

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          •  I am going to retire as soon as the university (0+ / 0-)

            allows me to--next year I hope.  It is a little harsh of you to want to push an older prof out onto the street in this difficult economic climate.  

            "I don't want to blame anyone. I just want to know how lowering taxes on the rich creates jobs" --Informed citizen at Congressional town hall

            by Time Waits for no Woman on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 11:31:29 AM PDT

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          •  Ah, no you can't. Many of those positions have (0+ / 0-)

            upper limits on how long you can stay in such a position. There was a limit on the number of years you could stay as a lecturer in the university I worked for and many good people had to leave because of it.

        •  Publications are to stake your claim to your (0+ / 0-)

          area of expertise so you can keep funded by demonstrating productivity and expertise and to get promoted. There's a saying, Deans can't read but they can count.

      •  Not necessarily. Yeah, the most innovative work is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Athena, Eric Blair

        usually done at that age although that too depends. But most people who were extremely good in their 40s still stay very productive well into 60s.

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