Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The Baylor Tenure Kerfuffle

Along with about 200 other professors, I attended yesterday's State of the University presentation by Baylor's President John Lilley. Provost Randall O'Brien was also there, but didn't answer any questions during the time I was there (I had to leave a few minutes early because of a make-up sentencing class).

Most of the questions at the meeting reflected the issue faculty are most upset about right now-- that 40% of those up for tenure this year were denied. We did not have anyone at the law school up for tenure this year, so we weren't directly affected, but of course we are all affected in one way or another by the tenure policies. Quite a few of us made the trek over to Bennett Auditorium to hear the presentation.

Unfortunately, I don't think much got cleared up. Because of privacy concerns, the administration can't say much about how the decisions got made, and the faculty were frustrated at not knowing how the process worked. It was, sadly, one of those times when communication probably did not make things better. I know people on both sides of the disputes, and the whole thing makes me sad.

Does the main university play a large role in tenure of the law professors or do they tend to do what the lawschool administration wants?
What are the chances of some of the law professors that are up for tenure in the next few years being denied tenure, given that they are very popular among the students and have published widely?

Our candidates go through the university process, the first step of which is the vote of our own tenured faculty. From there, they go to the university tenure committee, which is made up of profs from all the parts of the university. Finally, the president does get the final call.

I'm pretty sure the hard work of the law profs you are probably thinking of will be recognized.
Believe me, the student Q&A was just as frustrating...especially over the fact that he's changing our most recognizable logo without heeding the sound advice of MOST of the students, alumni, faculty, etc., etc.

I do think the students see the relation between not listening to us over traditions and not listening to faculty on tenure, though, which is a massive step forward, IMHO. It's refreshing to see other students interested in an issue that directly effects the quality of their degree for once.
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