Sara Goldrick-Rab on #FAKETENURE

March 11, 2016
By

AP Photo/Morry Gash

Sara Goldrick-Rab, author of the forthcoming book Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dreamwith a powerful piece at Medium on #FAKETENURE:

Driven by a desire to be a professor that worked for the public, I fought hard for tenure, earning it over a period of 7 years of 80-hour work weeks only slightly interrupted by the births of my two children. At several points, I tested the need for tenure — while still on the tenure-track, attempting to speak out and question the Boss. In response I received the sorts of threats and retaliation that affirmed, without a doubt, that tenure would be required to do my job effectively. But just 4 short years after I finally received it, tenure was taken from me.

I’m not alone. Tenure has been vanquished throughout the University of Wisconsin System. In its place is a savvy new #FakeTenure that fools even the most intelligent people into believing it is real. Except it is not. Following passage of #FakeTenure by the UW Regents later this week, firing me would be quite easy. All the Boss would have to do is decide that the Department of Educational Policy Studies no longer needs a scholar of higher education policy. This would be straightforward since there’s another department in the same school where faculty work in this general area. As I’m the only professor in EPS studying higher education policy, I could be dismissed. Done. Gone. That’s “program modification,” plain and simple.

Terrified sheep make lousy teachers, lousy scholars, and lousy colleagues. And today at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thanks to #FakeTenure, I’m surrounded by terrified sheep. To be honest, commitments to the growing number of people whom I am responsible for (including my two children, but also my students and staff), put me at risk of becoming one of them.

To read Goldrick-Rab’s piece in full, click here.

To read more about Paying the Price (September 2016), click here.

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