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The Tenure System And Engineering Institutions

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade: The Tenure Process

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1295.1 - 9.1295.8

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Roli Varma

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1175

The Tenure System and Engineering Institutions

Roli Varma

The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque


The system of tenure in institutions of higher learning in the United States was conceived in 1915 by a small group of professors at Johns Hopkins University who formed the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The principal organizer was Arthur Lovejoy who had left the Stanford University after Professor Edward Ross had been forced to resign for criticizing the policies of Mrs. Stanford. The founding members of the AAUP concluded that the adoption of tenure would heighten the security of the faculty and temper the arbitrariness of the administrators.20 In 1940, the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges (AAC) approved the classic document, Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.2 The AAUP struggled to implement the model of tenure and academic freedom because trustees and presidents did not favor faculty unionism. It was not until institutions of higher education faced an acute shortage of faculty in the sixties that the tenure system became relatively universal as a way to attract qualified professors.

Academic tenure functions as a guarantee of continuous employment until the faculty member dies, voluntarily retires, or is relieved of his or her duties because of: (i) adequate cause (demonstrated incompetence or dishonesty in teaching or research, to substantial neglect of duty, and to personal conduct which substantially impairs the individual’s fulfillment of his or her institutional responsibilities); or (ii) financial exigency (an imminent financial crisis which threatens the institution as a whole and which cannot be alleviated by less drastic means). An academic institution grants tenure after an extensive review by peers and administrators of the faculty member’s performance in the areas of scholarship, research, teaching, and service.

As soon as the model of tenure and academic freedom became in effect in most public and private universities and four-year public colleges, it started being questioned by people outside as well as inside universities. In the last decade, however, the battle over tenure has intensified. Legislatures have been introducing bills designed to abolish the tenure system in the United States.13, 17, 22, 36 Many institutions of higher education in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, South Carolina,

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Varma, R. (2004, June), The Tenure System And Engineering Institutions Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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