Saturday, March 9, 2013

Interdisciplinary Professors and Universities Struggle to Find Common Ground

A recent article by Carl Straumsheim of Inside Higher Education entitled "Interdisciplinary and Out of a Job" discusses some recent issues developing at universities across the country concerning faculty from interdisciplinary studies and their promotion and tenure rate. The article by Straumsheim focuses particularly on The University of Texas at Austin but the article points out the possibility both of a national trend or simply a statistical aberration. - Dr. Petrosino 

Of the 14 instructors up for promotion to associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts this academic year, only eight were recommended for tenure -- the lowest rate of promotion in nearly a decade. ​About 81 percent of the instructors up for tenure review last year were promoted to associate professors. The rate has fluctuated between 64 and 95 percent in the last eight years before dropping to about 57 percent this year, according to UT-Austin data.

According to professors familiar with what happened, five of the six faculty members not recommended for tenure represent interdisciplinary fields. All six are minorities.

In a letter to UT-Austin President William C. Powers Jr. and Provost Steven W. Leslie, 32 faculty members in the liberal arts expressed their concerns about the methods used to determine whether an instructor is granted tenure.

  A review of the tenure process revealed no bias against interdisciplinary scholars, said Tara Doolittle, the director of media outreach at UT-Austin, who described this year’s results as an “aberration.”
“We value our interdisciplinary scholars,” Doolittle said. “It’s ... a priority of the university, and it brings a lot to the College of Liberal Arts. It’s very important for those faculty members to have an identifiable career track.”

A related article was published in The Daily Texan on February 27, 2013 entitled "Tenure denial of interdisciplinary faculty sparks concern from liberal arts professors" and was written by Andrew Messamore

Photo Credit: theboken - Court Street #hoboken during #snowstorm #saturn#snow #newjersey