By Maddie Silva
The subject of tenure has begun to circulate in the midst of faculty uncertainty. I briefly sat down with Dr. Ann Hamilton, Providence’s Interim Chief Academic Officer, to talk about this topic that has grown in concern. Before Dr. Hamilton had to rush off to a meeting, she showed me a chart that graphed the gradual but steady decline of tenured professors since the late-1960s in the United States.
Similar graphs from The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges parallels this nationwide-decline, noting that as the rate of tenure-track professors declines adjunct professors now account for three quarters of instructional faculty at nonprofit colleges and universities nation-wide.
The term tenure conjures images of geriatric professors lecturing past their prime. However, the process of attaining academic tenure is a long and arduous procedure. According to The New Workplace Institute Blog, tenure is contingent on teaching, scholarship, and service. Teaching is typically held as the most important criteria, although some institutions stress research scholarship. A committee or department makes an initial recommendation of a professor based off of a blind vote, then a second recommendation is made to the board of trustees or a dean. The tenure evaluation track at most schools lasts about five or six years.