The Role of Tenure: The Virginia Experience

The AALS Presidential Workshop on Tomorrow’s Law Schools included a session on effective participation in faculty governance.  Much of the discussion centered around the summer 2012 kerfluffle in which the governing board of the Univ. of Virginia abruptly ousted University President Teresa Sullivan — and then rehired her after the faculty protested en masse.  Prof. George Cohen (chair of the faculty senate at the time, I gathered, having missed the introductions) acknowledged the importance of tenure in giving the university’s faculty the courage to speak up. He noted that lacking tenure the university’s administrators felt unable to do so.  I was struck by the importance of tenure to the privileged faculty at an elite university in such a situation.  Reinforces the impact of the stories from less privileged and more vulnerable faculty relayed in yesterday’s post by Mary Lynch from testimony presented on proposed changes to accreditation standard.

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