As both an academic and an administrator (and someone brought in with tenure) this is disconcerting.
Delaware State University’s president, Allen L. Sessoms, and five other university administrators have been stripped of tenure as part of a settlement with the university’s faculty union, according to The News Journal, in Wilmington.
Tenured faculty jobs offer job security for college presidents and are increasingly offered as a hiring perk. But union officials at Delaware State argued that tenure may be awarded only to full-time faculty members engaged in teaching and research, and cannot be granted upon hiring. They asserted in a 2005 grievance that the university’s Board of Trustees had violated the union’s contract by offering tenure to Mr. Sessoms and the five other officials.
According to the terms of the settlement, university administrators may no longer move automatically into faculty positions. They may, however, receive another form of tenure, the benefits of which are unclear.
Now I am sure that there are details here that we are missing and apparently this president has gotten in trouble on other matters. But the union seems to be arguing for a general principle and a contract that had already been agreed upon with the state. As a principle the notion of not hiring senior academic administrators with tenure in a departmental home seems asinine. Unless you are hiring someone who has no academic background whatsoever, then they ought to have the academic chops to be on your faculty before they are even considered for the job. I know that my department had a strong voice in whether they found me acceptable before I was offered my administrative post (one that has little directly to do with my academic area of expertise). I already held tenure at another institution, so it was not like they were taking some bureaucrat off the street and granting an unearned status.
But as I said, I know nothing about Delaware State’s situation but if this were to establish a trend I would say it is not good for academia. Not good at all.