Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Debating the Effectiveness and Necessity of Tenure in Pharmacy Education

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Debating the Effectiveness and Necessity of Tenure in Pharmacy Education

Article excerpt


So, where does tenure come from? What about the notion of academic freedom? The Greek philosopher Plato promoted the concept of academic freedom at his Academy, a "community of thinkers drawn together in the logical quest for truth" and "dedicated to the art of critical debate." Medieval European universities (eg, Oxford, Cambridge), steeped in influence from the Greek and Roman philosophers, extended the notion of academic freedom by establishing security for self-expression in one's role. The colonization of America by Great Britain brought a model of higher education, and therefore the notion of academic freedom, to the first American universities, including Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale. At these institutions, faculty members entered into contracts based on time, creating the beginnings of the concept of "permanent employment." This evolved into the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, where faculty members at colleges and universities worked to establish tenure for continuous employment to protect them from an administration that could infringe upon their freedom of personal expression, research, and/or teaching. (1)

In 1900, an economist at Stanford University, Edward Ross, lost his job because of his views regarding immigrant labor building railroads. These views differed from those of Jane Lathrop Stanford and her then late husband, Leland Stanford, the founder of The Leland Stanford Junior University (today Stanford University) and former president of the Central Pacific Railroad. Jane Stanford would influence the university president to remove Edward Ross from his job. (2) The removal of Edward Ross from his position for his personal views was noticed by other faculty across the country, including Arthur Lovejoy from Johns Hopkins. (3)

In 1913, in light of the events surrounding Edward Ross and others around the country, nine faculty members came together from the American Economic Association, the American Political Science Association, and the American Sociological Society to discuss academic freedom and academic tenure. This would eventually lead to the formation of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). (4) Additional cases, similar to that of Edward Ross, occurred in 1915, including 17 faculty members from the University of Utah resigning after the president and board of trustees abruptly terminated four of their colleagues.

Later in 1915, a list of charter members of AAUP was published that included more than 900 professors from 61 institutions. The AAUP would go on to develop the 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure. (5) This landmark document stated that "once appointed, the scholar has professional functions to perform in which the appointing authorities have neither competency nor moral right to intervene. The responsibility of the university teacher is primarily to the public itself, and to the judgment of his own profession." The 1915 Declaration defines academic freedom in three areas: (1) inquiry and research, (2) teaching, and (3) freedom of expression of one's opinion outside the university and/or to engage in political activities. From the 1930s to the1950s, tenure became widespread across US academic institutions, and the AAUP would go on to create the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. (6) In 1957, the first version of the Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure were published and were updated thereafter, with the last update in 2013. (7)

The origins of tenure in higher education in the United States are well-documented and, many would argue, well-intended. However, higher education has evolved since the early 1900s, and the application of the tenure system to the current education model is regularly debated. In a climate where educational institutions are being asked to do more with less, the question of productivity, and inherently the impact of tenure on productivity, arises. …

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