Apparently not a number of women at Baylor. In yesterdays' Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reports that in a move that is spreading through colleges and universities like the herpes virus, Baylor University administrators decided to "raise standards" for tenure this year, subsequent to the cases being prepared and submitted. They did this without informing anyone who would be affected by it, or the tenured faculty, for that matter. This means that probationary faculty who did what they were asked to do, and even those who might have looked beyond their department for a second opinion as to how to meet the bar, were hammered. Tenure denials went from ten percent to forty percent. Two-thirds of the women up for promotion were denied.
The story is a follow-up on a Monday story that features yours truly. Many hits to the Tenured Radical story linked to Scott's Monday piece, (almost 700), but no comments left: strange. However, I would report two interesting features of the comments left at IHE. They are overwhelmingly pro-tenure (fair enough, I understand that), but the comments are almost all aimed at the protection of academic freedom during the post-tenure years. Few are interested in what I think is a key question: what is the effect of the tenure process on young scholars, and how do we protect their academic freedom? Few people are also interested in unionization as an alternative. A third feature of these comments is that, as one of the commenters pointed out, that although they are overwhelmingly from tenured people, virtually all are written pseudonymously. Which suggests, as this commenter pointed out, that they don't feel that their speech is well-protected by tenure or -- that something else, a sense of one's reputation being fragile -- is provoked by even talking about tenure.