Holding tenured faculty accountable

Who remembers the episode of Friends when Ross get’s tenure? Even for those not in academia, tenure is known as one of the most prestigious, accomplishments an academic could receive. Although there are grants and promotions to full faculty, the confirmation of job security seems to be the pinnacle of celebrations. Clearly as a student I am unaware of all of the benefits of the position, but I would imagine that this prestigious transition from assistant to associate professor comes with a raise, both financially and in self-confidence in the department. With the seemingly endless list of benefits from tenure, there are key problems with this position that I believe encourage poor science, primarily being a lack of accountability.

Benefits of Tenure

  • The workup to tenure promotes rapid establishment of a lab environment, and initial focus area.
  • Job security: Professors that receive tenure are granted a lifetime position at their institution as long as they follow appropriate rules and regulations. This is not offered in most other career options
  • Flexibility in research topic areas
  • Studies show tenure promotes productivity (1)

Revamping the tenure position

I believe tenure track faculty need to have an increased level of accountability within the department. Mentorship to students needs to be seen as an important enough role that incorrect mentorship should not be taken lightly. Hierarchical structures need toe established in the department, where the department head constantly remains a non-biased source. I would encourage even a stand in member from another department be apart of an accountability group, to ensure no bias is excusing unwarranted behavior.


  1. Holden, E. Wayne, and Maureen M. Black. “Psychologists in medical schools—professional issues for the future: How are rank and tenure associated with productivity and satisfaction?.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 27.4 (1996): 407.

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