Tracing tenure appeals transparency

 

We at the Record were pleased to see that much progress has been made regarding the tenure appeals process at the College following the October faculty meeting. Tenure is unquestionably a critical component of the College’s academic vitality, and as students, we expect that these decisions are made with the utmost thought and for the correct reasons. While it could be argued that this faculty decision has no implications on students, the quality of our College academic experience depends on these choices. The way that faculty are hired and retained is important to the entire College community, and we commend the faculty on voting overwhelmingly to adapt the tenure appeals process for the better and to respond to lingering dissatisfaction.

While denial is an inevitable and necessary component in maintaining a top tier academic institution like the College, the faculty’s decision to provide a redacted, yet informative, explanation of evaluation to tenure-denied professors has incredible implications and benefits beyond the purple bubble.

Prior to this decision, faculty that were denied tenure were given limited to no information as to why that verdict was reached. Although the College may not be the best fit for a given professor, he or she nonetheless deserves a rationale for rejection and an opportunity to improve. These professors will likely continue to teach elsewhere, and having access to thoughtful critiques of their teaching could be very helpful. While several faculty members have expressed concern that this may create intra-departmental discomfort, the decision that was reached will maintain confidentiality where necessary for professors and the integrity of the information they used to reach their tenure decision.The process is now far more transparent and further ensures that our community strives for the highest standard. So often the College focuses on decisions that have implications specifically for our own institution, but the faculty’s action reminds us that the College is a part of a larger system of higher education. Many other elite colleges and universities nationally have adhered to a similar practice and the College has rightly caught up to our peer institutions. Now, we hope that the faculty takes lessons from the improvement of the appeals process and tackles the tenure process as a whole.