UW Struggle: Speaking of Post-Tenure Review… Edition

Real Gift Bags have Cheeseburgers

If you are one of my nine readers (Hi Mom! Love you!), or you have been following the UW struggle at all, you know that “post-tenure review” is our most pressing issue… even though it has nothing to do with state divestment in higher education.

But let’s just say for a moment that post-tenure review, once in place, will lead to lower tuition, restored budgets, and a general feeling like fresh-picked flowers: so here’s the question—isn’t it time to end the practice of awarding tenure to incoming administrators as a perk? Surely this is something that the tenure task force, President Cross, and concerned legislators would be concerned about, no? After all, we wouldn’t want an under-performing administrator to just fall back into the classroom, would we?

While faculty stew in a pressure cooker to earn tenure, the majority of administrators are awarded tenure like gift bags at parties, or uni swag, without so much as having taught a course at the institution where they will be working. This is common practice. We all know this. Yes, there are the exceptions, where a faculty member rises through the ranks at an institution, moving on to administration from the tenured ranks. My dean is one such person, and I’ve always wanted to see more of this (I love it when people with a long investment in a school step into administration). I’ve never understood making probationary faculty members jump through the bazillion review hoops of the tenure process while an incoming administrator is gifted the title because “we have to be able to attract the top talent!” I have also seen departments pressured into awarding tenure for administrative hires, fearing repercussions from above, especially via funding, if denied. Yes, I know, many administrators have had careers as faculty and scholars, but as we know now in Wisconsin, timing is of the essence. Are their skills up to snuff? Are they up on the latest research? How are we to know!? Continue reading “UW Struggle: Speaking of Post-Tenure Review… Edition”

UW Struggle: What’s Old is New

Rocky4As I sit down to write this quick post, my wife is driving to her unit-level review for the rank of Full Professor. This meeting should be entirely celebratory. The gods and heroes demand it.

As someone who has seen her entire career unfold up-close, I can say with ample support that the UW is lucky to have her, our campus is lucky to have her, and she has worked tirelessly for 15 years to get to this point. Yes, if she worked in a different state at a different campus she would make 20K more per year (which adds up to about 300K in lost revenue and counting) but UW Green Bay is a special place. This is not hyperbole. The students, staff, faculty, and alumni are a treasure. I consider myself lucky to work there as well, not because “I’m just happy to have a job,” but because of the place and spirit and intention that extends all the way back to the university’s founding by a bunch of crazy people with a crazy dream.

She’s probably just driving over the Leo Frigo Bridge right now, and her meeting begins in 10 minutes. And so my message to the Board of Regents, Wisconsin legislators, and UW Central and President Ray Cross is, I wish that she could walk into this moment of tremendous accomplishment and leave with more than self-satisfaction. Continue reading “UW Struggle: What’s Old is New”