The Tenure System Is Broken

KerryAnn O’Meara:

For the last 15 years, I have been involved in the study and reform of academic reward systems. Academic reward systems are fascinating to study because they reflect assumptions, values, goals, and aspirations held by institutions and fields.
I have studied academic reward system change in such areas as redefining scholarship, post-tenure review, stopping the tenure clock, and efforts to include ways to appraise new and diverse approaches to scholarly dissemination in the tenure process. My work has caused me to reflect on the current state of dominant academic reward systems, the assumptions that guide them, and the specific things I would like to see colleges and universities NOT do anymore, and start changing.
Universities pay a major price by not acknowledging bias and expanding their definitions of scholarship.
As a preamble to what I want us not to do anymore, I set forth the following principles. Most colleges and universities are charged with the goal of advancing knowledge within and through a diverse, inclusive community. By inclusive, I mean inclusive of both diverse individuals and diverse contributions to knowledge. Second, academic reward systems are about the valuing of professional lives and contributions. They are symbolic and concrete artifacts of what an institution values and aspires to become. Third, academic reward systems should ensure that faculty making excellent contributions to scholarship, teaching, and service should be retained and advanced. Yet, what excellence looks like in 2013 may differ from what it looked like in 1960 and 50 years from now.