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Tenuous tenure for QU professors
Most students think of their professors simply as teachers. But besides teaching, most faculty members are also engaged in research and other activities that may eventually lead to tenure. When a professor is granted tenure, she is practically guaranteed lifetime employment at the university.
Kathleen McCourt, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, explained the tenure process.
There are three levels of applying for tenure. The first level is departmental level.
“Once the person has been working at Quinnipiac for six years and has demonstrated to faculty peers that they meet the university standards in service, scholarship and teaching, they apply for tenure,” McCourt said.
A recommendation by the faculty is then presented to a university wide review committee. The review committee then holds a separate vote deciding if the professor should be granted tenure. Whether or not the votes of the department and the review committee are positive or negative, the next step is for the vice president of academic affairs to decide for a final review.
In order to be granted tenure, professors must meet a series of departmental and university-wide criteria. For instance, by the time they come up for tenure, faculty members must have published research and must be able to prove they have made significant contributions to campus life.
“I believe the process whereby members of the faculty have been granted tenure at Quinnipiac has mainly been rigorous, fair, as well as in the interest of students and academic freedom,” said Professor Grace Levine.
In regards to the firing of a teacher on tenure, McCourt said “as long as I have worked here, I have never seen a case like that.”
Tenure is a way to secure professors’ ideas and theories.
“Faculty must have job security and academic freedom-scholars need to have the confidence that their research, even if controversial, will not get them fired,” Professor Kathy Cooke said.