What is Tenure Track?

A tenure track professor is one who is in the running for a permanent position at an American college or university. College professors are typically hired in one of three categories: adjunct, one-year, or tenure track. The latter is the most prestigious and sought-after of the three. A tenure track position does not guarantee permanent employment, but it does guarantee the professor a permanent position if he or she meets certain criteria within the first few years on the job.

Academia’s Importance

Professors and teachers value tenure because of the intellectual freedom it provides. When a professor is tenured, he or she becomes a permanent member of the faculty who cannot be fired or removed without the approval of the school’s board of directors. Tenure protects a professor’s job as well as his or her ideas.

Professors spend a lot of time researching new ideas, especially at the university level. This research is usually done in conjunction with teaching and is frequently woven into classes. A tenured professor has institutional support for pursuing a unique research agenda, as well as the freedom to incorporate new ideas into classes without fear of being fired. Many people see tenure as a way to keep the university as a place where ideas can freely flow and individual scholars can pursue their own interests.

The Recruiting Procedure

When new professors and teachers are hired, they are almost never given full tenure. When a school meets a candidate it believes will be a good long-term fit, it usually offers them a tenure track position. This indicates that a tenured position is available if the candidate meets certain school requirements. New hires usually begin on the tenure track with the expectation of being scrutinized and evaluated at every turn.

Success Prerequisites

Expectations vary school, but they usually include publication, student reviews, and involvement in university activities. Professors typically have about five years from the date of their hire before a permanent status decision is made.

For professors seeking tenure, publication is usually the most important requirement. Instructors who write books, publish studies, or contribute significant commentary to anthologies have a better chance of getting tenure than those who only teach. Of course, different schools have different priorities; however, publication is important even at small teaching schools. Outside writing not only helps the professor demonstrate his or her credentials and knowledge, but it also helps the school’s reputation in national and international academic circles.

Review of Tenure

A panel of other instructors and university officials evaluates a professor after he or she has worked for the required tenure track term. This procedure is known as “tenure review,” and it will determine whether the professor will be retained — that is, whether he or she will be granted tenure — or will be dismissed from the university.

Typically, the panel considers tangible contributions first. It will look over the professor’s publications, read student evaluations from his or her classes, and assess the professor’s overall contributions to the university. It’s often a good indicator of an instructor’s commitment to the school if he or she has served on committees or chaired any departmental functions.

Intangible factors, on the other hand, may play a role. Tenure is sometimes denied due to personality conflicts or other conflicts. It’s also important to consider how others perceive the professor’s contributions. If a professor passes the review, he or she will become a permanent member of the community, which makes the decision all the more important.

Criticism is a necessary part of life.

Tenure track jobs, in the best of circumstances, allow scholars to engage in unrestricted research and exploration, as well as to be innovative in the classroom, without fear of repercussions. The concept of tenure, on the other hand, has been criticized for allowing too much freedom. Skeptics argue that instructors should be required to demonstrate their worth not just during their tenure track years, but at regular intervals throughout their careers. Some argue that if this does not happen, academic integrity will be jeopardized.

Some instructors may be tempted to take a much looser approach to education if they can’t be fired. Many studies have shown a decrease in teaching and student learning once professors and teachers receive tenure, according to critics. Many people believe that while not all professors use tenure as an excuse to stop working hard, the fact that some do should be cause for concern.