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LETTERS

Don’t just reform tenure — lift higher ed with public funding

Demonstrators gather on June 25 on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill to demand that the university offer tenure to award-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. Initially denied tenure by UNC, then offered it after an outcry from supporters, Hannah-Jones took a tenured position at Howard University.
Demonstrators gather on June 25 on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill to demand that the university offer tenure to award-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. Initially denied tenure by UNC, then offered it after an outcry from supporters, Hannah-Jones took a tenured position at Howard University.Jonathan Drew/Associated Press

As a retired professor fortunate enough to have been tenured, I believe we must do more than “reform” tenure (“Reform, not end, tenure, scholars say,” Page A1, July 20). We must elect leaders who will legislate publicly financed education, as is done in other countries with far lower gross domestic product than ours.

I tire of hearing administrators blame “personnel and budgetary constraints” for cutting tenure-track positions. I ask these officials whether reducing our tenured professoriat from 45 percent to 27 percent truly merits financial savings for universities (read piles of money for the wealthy ones). Financialization of higher education has created a precariat of dedicated scholars whose contributions are pathetically undercompensated.

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Reducing our faculties to mostly part-timers impoverishes many universities by retrenching courses, programs, even departments that perforce would require lifelong faculty commitment. This is because significant research emerges from process, and process requires time. The same applies to teaching skills.

Now, the perennial question arises, “Where will we get the money to publicly finance higher ed?” My answer is: Slash the military budget. Why? We have sufficient nuclear arms to destroy world civilization several times over. Use peace dividends to preserve and enhance our quality of life.

Ira Braus

Pembroke

The writer is president emeritus of the American Association of University Professors, Connecticut Conference.