MLA on Revising Tenure
According to Inside Higher Ed, the MLA will soon be issuing a plan on revising tenure standards. At issue is the common tenure requirement of a monograph at a time when the number of monographs academic publishers are willing to take on, especially by first-time authors, is shrinking. Among other things, the proposal will argue for broadening the scope of what scholarship considered acceptable for tenure, for better advising practices, and for breaking down the distinctions between print and online work.
Thursday night, a special panel of the MLA offered the first glimpse at its plan to overhaul tenure — and in many ways the plans go well beyond the reforms Greenblatt proposed. As he suggested, the panel wants departments — including those at top research universities — to explicitly change their expectations such that there are “multiple pathways” to demonstrating research excellence, ending the expectation of publishing a monograph. But the panel does not appear likely to stop there.academia | MLA | tenure
It plans to propose that departments negotiate “memorandums of understanding” with new hires about what factors will go into their tenure reviews. It wants departments to end a bias that favors print over online publications. It wants to change the rules of how tenure candidates are evaluated, proposing that a limit of six be set on the number of outsider reviewers asked to look at a tenure candidate and that those outside reviewers no longer be asked certain questions that seem likely to doom some candidacies while adding little valuable information to an evaluation.
Domna C. Stanton, the MLA’s current president and a French studies professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, has led the work of the panel, and she remarked several times as members discussed the group’s ideas about how broad and significant they were. In an interview after the presentation, she said that these proposals could lead to revolutionary changes in the way faculty members start and advance in their academic careers.