Re: land grants - tenure vs. change?
Bach Joel P (JPB@ag-eco.tamu.edu)
Mon, 11 Dec 1995 21:23:15 CST
More on change, SA, and land grants.........
> WORDS FROM: Bill Liebhardt and Tomas Hansmeyer:
> >In my opinion to not take a position on an issue is to reinforce the status
> >quo which is taking a position. Land Grant Universities were created as
> >change agents and that is what SA is about. It is about change. To engage
> >in the process of change means you have to advocate and discuss change. You
> >do it based research. It also means being somewhat of an activist in regard
> >to that position to some extent. It is the way things change in the real
> >It is the main reason that tenure really exits. It is meant to protect
> >those who might express unpopular views based on their research. It seems
> >to me that that is what is demanded of us when we are supported by
> >taxpayers. We have the freedom to do exactly that in fact it is what we
> >should do.
> In my experience with ag related research and land grant universities, it is
> rather uncommon for a particular department to embrace new ideas.
> Especially within the ranks. I do not see departments hire individuals with
> uncommon ideas. My paradigm is your paradigm or will not have a discussion
> with you is more common what I have encountered. This may stem from the
> scientific ritual which creates a culture of criticism. I would much rather
> have departments with broadminded individuals who are open to new and
> uncommon ideas!!
Tenure may provide for change. But it also protects from change.
It has always been notoriously guilty of that.
In my opinion, tenure promotes lackluster performance as teachers (as
if teaching was truly any input to tenure - as the old observation
goes). I find it hard to agree with Bill Liebhardt that innovation
is a creation of security. In other words, one would fit the mold to
gain tenure, then buck the stack? The mold has to be fit to gain it.
There are some changes, though. Several land grants Universities now
have directives (even if not physical) to eliminate "faculty
inbreeding" and encourage (or require) the recruitment of new blood
into their faculties. This should be in contrast to Hansmeyer. Universities
are going to be looking for a few individuals with uncommon backgrounds
and ideas. I am seeing what appears to be more and more of it all the time.
Hopefully these individuals are embracing change themselves - and
taking their teaching (the key to change) a little more seriously -
though that is not particularly what I have been observing.
Six one way, half a dozen the other.