This essay questions the historical yoking together of the concepts of academic freedom and tenure, arguing that both concepts have been poorly and inconsistently defined since the AAUP's inaugural document, the “Declaration of Principles on Academic Tenure,” was published in 1915. The essay charts the critique of the “Declaration” by the Association of American Colleges (AAC). The AAC, an organization of administrators rather than faculty, laid the groundwork for the tenure system as it exists today. It outlined the seven-year probationary period that would precede tenure, and it fought to restrict academic freedom to the professor's area of academic expertise. In doing so, it joined together the two otherwise unrelated concepts. The second half of the essay examines how the legal system has tried, largely without success, to sort out the relationship between academic freedom and tenure. The essay concludes by noting that the research model in the humanities—in which assistant professors are expected to produce scholarly publications in order to earn tenure—has now been grafted to the probationary period, thus compounding the problems of linking academic freedom to tenure.
Frank Donoghue; Why Academic Freedom Doesn't Matter. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2009; 108 (4): 601–621. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2009-010
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