Post-tenure review – college teachers

Gets Mixed Critique

ATLANTA
The rules have changed and if you don’t like it, you can go home.

That is exactly what several recently retired Georgia State
University (GSU) professors did in response to a new state mandate that
calls for rigorous faculty evaluations of even the most experienced of
instructors.

Called for by Chancellor Stephen Portch and approved by the Board of
Regents in 1995, officials say the post-tenure review requirement was
not created to weed out weak instructors. Instead, it was created to
help determine which faculty members needed additional training or
special help. With the exception of GSU, most state institutions are
just beginning to conduct the reviews, which are targeted at faculty
who haven’t had evaluations for at least five years,

The directive comes amid national controversy about tenure. Some
university systems are considering moves similar to Portch’s. At the
same time, many individual colleges have increased their requirements
for tenure or eliminated it altogether.

Experts on the issue say that many parents are dissatisfied with
what their children are – or aren’t – getting in college coursework.
Employers have weighed in as well, complaining about the quality of
recent graduates.

“Graduating a better student is the bottom line,” says Dr. Ron
Henry, the provost at GSU who introduced the idea on his campus several
months before the regents’ vote. “We are an urban research university
and not only do we want to produce better research, but we have an
outreach mission and a teaching mission as well.

“What we’re saying with post-tenure review is that we don’t want you
to be good at just one thing,” he continues. “You have a role to play
in the overall mission of the university.”

There are twenty-five documentable cases where tenured GSU
professors chose to take retirement rather than endure the rigors of
post-tenure review. Another 250 have successfully completed it or are
currently undergoing the evaluation. And very few of them, according to
Henry, have been identified as needing to polish their professional
skills.

At historically Black Fort Valley State, the academic dean, Dr.
Josephine D. Davis, is preparing about twenty faculty members for
review. Items to be considered include the professors’ sense and
application of global issues, technology, multiculturalism, and other
“focus areas” that are considered important to the university.

According to Davis, the post-tenure review represents a shift toward more accountability.

“In the past,” she says, “we honed in on things like how many hours
a professor spent in the office, what your credentials were, and what
papers you published. Now, we want to look at what a professor is
producing in terms of student results and their [ability to help]
students to achieve.

“The point is to make sure that people who achieve tenure are still
active and contributing,” he adds. “If they’ve gotten stale through the
years, post-tenure review is designed for professional development. And
if they get a negative evaluation, they’ve got three years to come up
to speed,” says Don Wagner, a political science professor at the State
University of West Georgia.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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