Permanent Tenure and Academic Freedom in Engineering

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 21 (3):193-201 (2001)
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The tenure system exists in most public and private universities and 4-year public colleges in the United States. The American Association of University Professors has argued that tenure provides the most reliable means of assuring academic freedom, faculty quality, and educational excellence. However, budgetary constraints and the end of mandatory retirement in the ’90s have resulted in questioning the merits of the tenure system. It is argued that tenure entrenches a lazy professoriate, encourages the creation of temporary faculty positions, and supports research over teaching. This article examines the tenure system as practiced in engineering institutions in the United States because engineering faculty serve as an interesting case study of 21st-century technology and 19th-century values. It illuminates issues underlying the tenure system beyond the traditional justification of academic freedom.



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