Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Sun 2/29/2004 7:57 AM
Random Thought: On Promotion and Tenure

I was just watching an insightful piece on CBS' Sunday Morning dealing with a truly modern-day rennaisance man, Michael Hawley of M.I.T. After a decade at M.I.T., this young accomplished visionary computer scientist, inventor, award-winning musician, master teacher, and philantropist is without tenure. He says, with his outside interests in music and medicene and Hollywood and the military and the computer industry, he's not bothered by that fact. Tenure, he asserted, has become a pigeon-holing barrier to imagination and creativity.

Boy, did that hit me square between the eyes. Recently, I've decided he just may be right. Joseph Campbell said that organized religion is the greatest barrier to the religious experience. That just may be true of tenure in academia. I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that the politics of, kowtowing to, quest for, fear for, need of, compromising for, and granting of tenure and promotion have become obstacles for rather than educational promoters of some of the most energetic, creative, imaginative, and caring people on our campuses. Tenure is fast becoming, if it alredy hasn't become, a self-interested end in itself. It has become denigrated to no more than job guarantee. Highly educated and highly talented and well meaning people have allowed themselves to sink into "fit-the-mold" uniformity and conformity, compromised themselves, danced to others' tunes, turned themselves into preservers of a museum piece rather than become a dynamic and promotional educational force.

And, I'm not sure tenure and promotion as it is seen inside academia today is worth the price almost all people are willing to pay to get it.

I think I just got myself into trouble.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
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                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
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