Page 12 -Thursday, September 10, 1981-The Michigan Daily
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Tenure: The debate continues
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By LORENZO BENET
Daily News Analysis
You're daydreaming one afternoon in your
"University Political System" class and your
professor decides to give a surprise exam. There's
just one question, and it reads as follows:
"Define tenure in one sentence."
THAT'S EASY, you say: "Tenure is security of
employment based on peer evaluation." But the per-
son sitting next to you writes: "Tenure is the ability
to pursue new ideas without fear of harrassment
from the outside."
Meanwhile, the intellectual sitting at the front of
the class jots down: "Tenure is the entitlement to a
hearing under Regental Bylaw 5.09.X before
In spite of the widely varied definitions of tenure,
everyone can probably agree on one point: tenure is
IN THEORY, tenure decisions are based on
scholarly record, teaching, and service. Usually, af-
ter assistant professors enter their sixth year, they
come up for tenure review by the department. If the
departmental tenure review committee and the
department's tenured faculty decide a faculty mem-
ber deserves promotion, it passes the recommen-
dation to the school or college executive committee,
which begins the review process all over again.
If the executive committee votes to promote the
faculty member, he or she is virtually ensured a job
at the university until death or retirement. All
promotion decisions are subject to the final (usually
rubber-stamp) approval of the Regents.
Critics through the years have pointed out flaws in
the tenure system. These include a lack of a student
involvement in the selection process, an overem-
phasis on a faculty member's research, the
politicization of the tenure process, and a failure to
promote significant numbers of minorities and
BUT SOME SCHOOLS and colleges at the Univer-
sity-such as the College of Architecture and Urban
Planning, the School of Natural Resources, ahd the
School of Public Health-have student members on
their executive committees.
These students participate to varying degrees on
personnel and policy matters. They are visible forces
offering audible perspectives on faculty mem-
bers-opinions which can't be lost among a stack of
letters of recommendation, course evaluations, and
Yet these schools are the exception-most have no
students on their committees. The majority of ad-
ministrative officials and professors say they think
students aren't qualified to provide substantive
evaluations of a faculty member's research and
teaching abilities. In most situations, the student
voice'in the tenure process is limited to writing a let-
ter of recommendation and filling out a course
evaluation on the last day of class.
PAST AND present student government leaders
have advocated greater participation by students in
tenure matters because teaching isn't given as much
consideration as research when promotion decisions
are made. It's true that the University prides itself on
its research component-the research budget here
exceeds $100 million annually.
If you still don't believe the University places a
high priority on investigative study, take a little walk
up to North Campus and gaze on all those mega-
structures-they aren't classrooms. One look, and
it's hard to refute the truth for University faculty of:
the old saying, "Publish or perish."
Most executive committee members and ad-
ministrative officials argue that teaching receives
much consideration, though perhaps not as much as
research. But, they argue, this imbalance is not
unreasonable because research bears on teaching: If
scholarship is not strong, then the basic intellectual
strength of the teaching will be affected over the
IF A GOOD research record is essential for a
faculty member to join the tenured ranks, knowing
the right people in the right places doesn't fall too far
As in any subjective process involving people and
personalities, politics can become a factor in deciding
whether a professor should be granted tenure. Some
faculty, such as history professor Shaw Livermore,
have said personality and politics play too large a
part in the tenure process.
Last year, for example, political science professor.
Samuel Eldersfeld said that in 1978 the political
science department was unable to objectively decide
if former political science professor Joel Samoff
deserved tenure. Samoff had been an outspoken ad-
vocate of Affirmative Action, and of University
divestment from South Africa.
LAST YEAR IN ANOTHER controversial tenure
case, several professors agreed that former political
science professor Clei-ent Henry may have been
See TENURE, Page 14
GE vs. Universi ty
The struggle goes on
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By SUSAN McCREIGHT
The University Administration
stirred considerable . controversy
among teaching assistants in 1973,
through two actions and one inaction: It
raised ruition by 25 percent and staff
salaries by 12 percent, but pay for
teaching assistants remained the same.
An informal group of distressed TAs
with no previous bargaining experience
attempted to negotiate with ad-
ministration officials, and were prom-
ptly turned away because they were not
members of an official union.
In April, 1974, a union was organized,
and its bargaining team fruitlessly
negotiated with the University through
the Fall. It wasn't until February, when
the graduate students organized a five-
week walk-out, that they won an initial
BUT WHEN THE contract expired,
the University refused to renew it. The
Graduate Employees Organization
(GEO), the legal bargaining agent for
the TAs, decided against striking again.
The two teams negotiated through
November, when the issue of two pen-
ding grievances which had been filed by
GEO in 1975 brought talks to a halt.
The grievances charged that the
University illegally removed people
from the union by changing the
definition of "Research Assistant"
(RA) or "Staff Assistant" (SA) in cer-
tain departments. Specifically, they
charged, the University failed to assign
the titles to psychology graduate
students Jeff Evans and Joel Hencken,
who worked in the Psychiatry Depar-
tment of University Hospital and atthe
Counseling Center of the Institute for
"THERE WAS A very loose definition
of who was in the union by the titles RA,
SA, and TA," said Doug Moran, former
GEO President. "The University ap-
plied all of its muscle in subverting
those titles to remove members from
the protection of the union contract," he
Although both sides had agreed to
everything in the new contract, the
University refused to sign it until GEO
dropped the two grievances. The ad-
ministration also demanded that the
union sign a memo promising not to file
the grievances again, and that GEO
acknowledge the grievances were "in-
consistent with the current and
preceding collective bargaining
GEO refused, claiming the University
was "holding up the signing of the con-
tract for non-mandatory bargaining
issues," and the TAs filed an unfair
laabor practice charge against the
University with the Michigan Em-
ployees Relations Commission.
"WE CAN'T RESOLVE a contract
until we know what the language
means," said John Forsyth, chief
University negotiator at that time.
"And if we have to go to the MERC to
settle it, then we'll see them at the
The issue remains unresolved, and
since 1976 the union has risked breaking
up because of a shortage of dues.
"We ran on voluntary dues. Money
See GEO, Page 15
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Members of the Graduate Employee Organization picket outside the Admin-
istration Building for recognition from the University.
Information Center fills the gaps-
By ANNETTE STARON
Have a question? Need an answer?
The new Campus Information Center
(CIC, for short) believes that if you give
them a call, you're no more than one
step away from the information you
CIC IS CENTRALLY located on the
first floor of the Michigan Union, con-
veniently located for walk-in-and call
The Center is a "facility in the
Michigan Union to respond to the wide'
ranging information needs on cam-
pus," according to Art Lerner, CIC's
With information ranging from
emergency medical data, questions
about financial aid, and different bodies
and activities within the University, the
Center is a "single location where the
information needs of students can be
met," according to the Center's direc-
tor, Don Perigo.
"IT'S A BIG challenge" to handle all
the information needs of the students,
faculty, and visitors to the University
Perigo said, because there are about
100 different offices and about 500
bulletins, brochures, and pamphlets for
students and others on campus to refer
While gathering information from
those offices during the last two years,
the interviewers from CIC received
"good to outstanding cooperation"
from the different departments of the
University, according to Lerner.
He also said that CIC isn't trying to
usurp the information capabilities of
the different units in the University.
Rather, he said, it wants to "bridge the
different information gaps," and bring
both the people and the correct infor-
PERIGO SAID the Center "will use
students as much as possible" for staf-
fing the Center during its business;
hours-from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., the same,
hours the Michigan Union is open.
There will be a walk-in desk where
visitors and others can ask questions,
and a phone line-763-INFO.
There will also be information and
events tapes providing frequently
requested information, which will run
24 hours a day. The information will be
Lerner said the Center hopes to be on
an information computerized data base-
in the future, but for the time being all,
information in handled manually.
Have a question that needs an-
swering? Call 763-INFO. They may not
have the answer right at their finger-
tips, but they will probably be able to
direct you to the person or office which
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