Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tenure-When a Professor Loses It- Welcome to the Real World

Oooh, too bad, sometimes people don't get chosen to keep their job for life as reported in Inside Higher Ed :: When a Professor Loses It. (Hat tip: Instapundit)
Of course people in any profession face disappointments over not getting raises and promotions. But Trower and others noted that tenure in academe has some characteristics that just aren’t widely replicated: If you don’t get promoted, you don’t get to stay on, but must leave; you are judged in part by peers with whom you interact daily; the process is extremely long and has multiple stages; and the subjective portions of the process (is someone a good teacher? was a book influential?) may be very difficult to make sense of.
You have got to be kidding. These guys need to see what life is like out in the real world, where there the rules are that on any day you can be fired for any reason or no reason (unless the reason is based on some illegal basis, like race, ethnicity, etc) and you don't get to go running to some review committee to get a second opinion.

Boss having a bad day? Then he can fire you. Boss has nephew who needs a job? Boss can fire you. Merger? Outsourcing? Downsizing? Right sizing? Bye Bye.

Subjective evaluations? Every. Single. Day.

Own your own business? Nothing like having your customers vote with their feet if they "feel" your service has fallen off... Talk about stress. Let's suppose your business drops off. Which employee will have to go? Which sad story will you hear? Kid in the hospital? Sole support for elderly parent? Which friend of x years will you have to tell, "I can't afford to keep you on."

How about companies like GE under Jack Welch in which the staff was evaluated and the bottom x% lopped off every year? You want a helping of some stress?

How about the kids who have wanted to be Navy pilots all their lives and made it to flight school only to be told that there is a temporary surplusage of pilots and, well, "sorry...needs of the Navy"? (See here)

Freelance writer? When's the next sale? Lawyer? Did you win your last case? Was the client happy until the bill arrived? Will the bill get paid? Will there be enough money coming in this month to pay the kid's tuition at Expensive Enough U. where the faculty debates tenure and raises rates every year with no performance measurements outside of the occasional peer review?

Let the crocodile tears flow...

Update: I can't believe I forgot to mention earlier the young men and women who are being slightly stressed by having people attempting to kill them while out defending academic and other freedoms for a heck of a lot less than even an untenured professor makes. And the people on ships and submarines and flying transports and protecting our borders and enforcing the law and the Coast Guard going out in horrible weather to attempt to rescue people in trouble at sea. Every single day.

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