Lefton proposes 10-year tenure in addition to six-year option

Megan Wilkinson

Why Should You Care?

  • Kent State faculty members might need to make more decisions regarding their teaching positions in the near future.
  • Kent State would be one of the first universities in the nation to use this tenure model.

At his annual State of the University Address, President Lester Lefton suggested adding a 10-year tenure track option for faculty members to think about.

“(President Lefton) is really proposing a conversation,” said Provost Robert Frank. “And conversation may be the most important part to focus in thinking about our approach.”

In order to reach tenure status, a professor needs to perform extra research, service or participation outside of teaching courses in a set amount of time. Joel Hughes, associate professor of psychology, said these professors display a certain level of excellence in teaching after a set amount of years.

“The tenure requirements vary by college, but you demonstrate adequate success in accomplishments typically through publications and evidence of either receiving or seeking mutual funding,” Hughes said.

Lefton said he does not want to directly negotiate his proposal with faculty members, and instead, have faculty consider what to do.

“I think it’s to the faculty’s advantage (to discuss it), but if they’re not interested, that’s fine,” Lefton said.

Frank said the 10-year tenure tracks might help to improve the quality of the university. Currently a six-year tenure option exists for faculty members. With two different tenure options, faculty would be able to display scholarship and establish better records.

“The president was clear in his speech, and I agree the current window seems like a long time, but it’s not,” Frank said. “It’s hard to establish tenure in the time window we’ve given people and it takes a lot of concentration to be successful.”

Frank said Lefton’s proposal would only affect future Kent State faculty who choose to be tenure professors. They will be given the option of the six or 10-year track.

Yet the proposal causes some uncertainty among faculty members. Paul Farrell, professor of computer science, said he feels unsure about Lefton’s proposal.

“This idea is something Lefton is floating around to see how it is perceived,” Farrell said. “One of the worries is that it may create two groups of people — those in the six-year and those in the 10-year groups.”

Kenneth Bindas, chairman for the history department, heard about the proposal at President Lefton’s address. He said tenure is not a big issue in the history department.

“Ten years seems an awful long time for someone to wait to go up for tenure,” Bindas said. “I think that after five years, you can tell whether or not a faculty member will be able to make a long-term contribution to the department.”

On the other hand, some professors said they think the 10-year option will prove to be beneficial for faculty members. Edward Dauterich, assistant professor of English, said the 10-year tenure track could help some faculty members, though he would not personally choose it.

“The tenure proposal to me makes sense so the university can hold on to scholars who are clearly productive, but haven’t reached the rules set down yet on paper,” Dauterich said. “The only disadvantage would be if you put in the investment, then there would be four years lost.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].