Tenured faculty at GV show commitment and academic mastery
As of Fall 2011, 582 faculty members at Grand Valley State University were tenured and another 252 were on tenure track. Tenured faculty at GVSU earn their status by mastering their subjects and going through a number of reviews, as well as succeeding in academics for a great deal of time, according to Gayle Davis, the provost at GVSU.
Tenure is a long-standing tradition in higher education for making sure that teachers can teach and do research in a way they see fit, Davis said.
“Tenure ensures academic freedom to faculty in order to develop their intellectual expertise without concern that they could be fired for their academic perspectives,” Davis said.
As a teaching university, GVSU has more qualified professors in the classroom, which is one major reason that the school values tenured faculty, said Dr. Joe Godwin, associate vice president of academic affairs at GVSU.
“Some universities are more research-based rather than focused on teaching; they spend less time in the classroom,” Godwin said. “Our primary mission is teaching.”
In addition, Godwin said professors who earn tenure typically hold the terminal highest degree in a particular area, and he thinks GVSU offers a competitive edge by putting the best people in the classroom.
“We have some very active and talented professors at all ranks, and as they move through their careers they can become associate then tenured professors,” Godwin said.
He added that the decision of whether a professor receives tenure is made by the department or college. Godwin emphasized that the professor is often recognized through outstanding achievement, teaching, service and research.
“Teachers involved in service may take on extra activities or be a part of committees, which we rely on heavily in running the university,” Godwin said.
“Many faculty members take on the task of dealing with problems in the community that they see exist, it might be a program that addresses poverty, hunger or health on behalf of the university.”
Currently, the school of business has 68 tenured faculty and 16 professors who are on tenure track, according to James Williams, the dean of students at the Seidman College of Business.
“We value tenured faculty because it guarantees a long-time commitment to the academy and to higher education, and having a long-time commitment ensures better quality research and service,” Williams said.
Davis added that tenure secures great continuity among the faculty, which is good for students as they progress through their degree programs and even after a student’s graduation.
Maybe a student graduated two years ago and they need a letter of reference.
“They will probably still find their tenured faculty member at GVSU in order to ask for that letter,” Davis said.
She also said professors can only lose tenure if they don’t perform their responsibilities well or because of criminal or other extremely bad behavior, but never because of their honest point of view on their work. The number of tenured and tenure-track faculty for 2012 will come out at the end of September.
For more information on tenured faculty at GVSU, call the provost office at (616) 331-2400.