Baylor has some of the most incredible and accomplished professors in the nation. Many have graduated from elite institutions and done extensive work in academia. Others are leaders of their fields and have chosen to give back to the next generation.
For the elite of these, Baylor has the ability to grant tenure. When granted, a professor receives a significant level of job security. In doing so, the university is making a significant investment. It is making a commitment.
But to students, the word “tenured” quickly picks up a negative connotation. To many students, a tenured professor is one who has embarked on an early retirement. When they sign up for a class with a tenured professor, they expect one who is more interested in their outside work than students.
It’s common to have a tenured professor who is unprepared for class, late for the set meeting time or cancels class often. Some courses taught by these professors have not been updated in the many years the class has been taught.
Becoming tenured should be considered a huge accomplishment to a professor — the pinnacle of a teaching career. But too often, these professors rest on their laurels instead of investing in the education and passion of the subject. In the end, professors who do not take their classes seriously anymore just aren’t worth students’ money.
And yet, the requirements for becoming tenured at Baylor are stringent. To even be eligible, a faculty member must hold the highest possible degree in their field. They must have at least six years teaching or major field experience, have an established record of publication, work in professional organizations to better the university and work with other members of their department.
Even after meeting all these requirements, the faculty is subject to an executive review before ultimately being granted tenure. To say the least, tenure is intended to be a reward for years of hard work and dedication to their craft.
However, it is not unusual to hear students talk about how much more they got from teaching assistants or supplemental instruction than from the actual class. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Students shouldn’t have to feel like they have to go away from their professors to understand and be taught.
One of the biggest selling points Baylor gives to prospective students is its student-to-teacher ratio. When students choose to attend, most hope to make meaningful relationships and connections that they hold onto even after leaving school.
On the other hand, it might be hard to see that. Each class brings students who are disinterested in the class. Some will sit on their phone all class period long and be satisfied with earning a C and moving on. From a student perspective, we need to make it a priority to value our tenured professors as well.
Tenured professors are some of the brightest on campus. Furthermore, it’s a small percentage of tenured professors who fit this typecast. But as a school, we should be focused on trying to get as much as possible from everyone on campus, whether student, staff or faculty.
It is the job of the school to hold tenured professors to a high standard of teaching: the same level they demonstrated to achieve such a title. Baylor should regularly review these professors and curriculum in order to maintain this standard. This assures that all faculty — tenured or not — stays true to their first responsibility: students.