Thursday, October 7, 2010

Faculty fight back at Brown

Brown's provost tries to change tenure procedures...the faculty say NO. A few tidbits (the whole article is worth reading):

"I think it was a triumph for faculty self-governance. If there are changes to the tenure process, the Brown faculty wants to make them ourselves," said Susan Smulyan, a professor of American civilization.

The changes that were supposed to come up for a vote Tuesday are, to proponents, relatively minor. One proposal would have ended a tradition of informing tenure candidates of the outside reviewers being asked to evaluate them. Another would have increased the number of outside letters from a minimum of five to a minimum of eight (a figure commonly used already). Yet another would allow deans to add to the list of outside reviewers, in a break from the current policy of letting departments decide whom to ask. Faculty critics of the proposed changes have said all of these changes would, to various degrees, shift some of the power of tenure decisions away from departments and toward the administration.

The backdrop for the discussion -- and part of the reason many faculty have been dubious of the recommendations -- is that Brown was faulted in a recent accreditation report for having too high a tenure rate (70 percent), because many top research universities have significantly lower rates. Brown faculty members insist that they do a good job of advising those who will not receive tenure to leave before the final vote.

Further, Brown faculty critics of the changes say that they are proud of the emphasis on teaching in evaluations of faculty members and that they view the changes being proposed as raising the bar on research in a way that will force junior faculty members to focus their time clearly on writing or lab work -- and not on students.

One interesting note for UM professors--Brown doesn't have an elected faculty senate. Rather, they have meeting of all faculty--yes, all 700 non-medical instructors get to participate. The proposed changes to the tenure process have lured many faculty to the meetings--200-300

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