This is Professor Zero, from parish prison (for those of you who live in states, districts, and colonies other than Louisiana, that means county jail). I am allowed to go to class and so on. I am not allowed to comment on blogs because I have far too much to do and it is only going to get worse. It will not really let up until June.
Today I am tired from teaching one set of undergraduates too hungry to concentrate, another too phobic about the university, books, and computers to learn, and finally a set of graduate students who do not read Spanish or have a background in literature but whom I am expected to pull through a beginning graduate course, including some reading in secondary sources, on a major Spanish American author. Due to their heavy teaching and commuting schedules these graduate students are unable to visit any library at any time.
Still I wish to add a note, or at least a footnote, to the tenure wars. First, I disagree with the Constructivist‘s plan to have different tracks for different types of professors: research-teaching, teaching-research, teaching-service, and so on. I work in an institution which has such tracks and I do not like them. I could give details, but I am in parish prison with limited computer time. The bottom line is that one wants to develop all of one’s faculty. The creation of differences like these creates less equality and opportunity, not more.
Lumpenprofessoriat wants to make sure nobody spends more than seven years untenured after the PhD. I understand the spirit here, but I do not think the plan is necessarily practical. It would be hard to enforce and in some cases, not desirable to enforce.
Note how different this plan is, too, from my original proposal which was to hire everyone to tenure in the first place. Historiann modified my proposal to a “two years to tenure” plan, so that one could save one’s department from disastrous hires. I initially endorsed that as a good compromise but I retract it, seeing that the next compromise would lengthen the time to tenure again, and that we would soon be back to the traditional seven, or more than seven years.
This leads me to the new question of the day: what is tenurable? In some institutions I have worked for, to be tenurable is to have become an important figure in your field. To become that does take seven years or more. Other places I’ve worked, to be tenurable is to be a decent teacher, publisher, and colleague. To show that one is that does not take anything like seven years.