Do not disturb: Tenured professor hard at work

A tenured professor deserves respect and job protection but not at the expense of students and their colleagues

Tenured status is an important part of a professor’s career. Academic tenure is achieved by reaching certain criteria depending on the academic institution.

LSU awards tenure to a professor after “a rigorous, careful process of examination and deliberation.” According to University policy statement PS-36-T the criteria for evaluating job performance include scholarship, teaching and service. Tenured professors are respected members of the University and go through a rigorous process to achieve their status. The concept of tenure is important as is protects professors and prevents them from being fired without cause or extenuating circumstances. Tenure allows professors to have more freedom in their academic work without fear of repercussions from overreaching administrators. Tenure protects academic freedom, which is better for society as a whole, but tenure does not always lead to increased academic performance from professors.

Tenure was designed as a protection to allow academic freedom, but this same protection can foster apathy and lower quality work. Uninspired professors can plague departments by coasting through semesters without sufficiently contributing to scholarship or the academic acumen of the institution.

Students often feel the brunt of the pain inflicted by lackadaisical professors. If a tenured professor is a horrendous instructor who doesn’t feel the need to convey the information, then the students are worse off from it.

Tenured professors help define the University, but not all are carrying their weight. I believe the review process should further incorporate student evaluations and provide incentives for good behavior to prod tenured professors into action. I would never advocate for the removal of academic tenure because a professor has slowed down in their work, but there should be a way for students’ voices to be heard.

The University has semester evaluations for students to fill out regarding instructors, but these evaluations hardly factor into the University’s decision making. Faculty and students deserve the right to hold tenured professors accountable.

Research is the primary focus of the University, but there needs to be a space created where student and faculty complaints against tenured professors, regarding their effort could be heard and acknowledged. A reward system for active tenured professors could be a great way to incentivize effort and passion. There are few incentives for tenured professors outside of endowments and professorships and I believe that should change. The University needs to incentive professors to remain as active and engaged with the campus as possible. 

Professors are the backbone of the University, and they hold back the entire institution when they aren’t performing at their best. Students deserve a system that encourages facility participation to the fullest. Academic tenure is meant to protect professors so they can achieve more in the classroom, not so they can coast to retirement. 

Cory Koch is a 20-year-old political science junior from Alexandria, Louisiana.

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