This August, 10 faculty members earned a permanent home in the Wilkes family after completing the tenure process which, though long and tedious, provides multiple benefits for both the faculty receiving it and the broader university community.
Looking back on the lengthy and nerve-wracking process, newly tenured associate professor of communications Evene Estwick said, “I’m relieved and happy it’s over because it’s quite an undertaking.”
However, once the process is complete, the benefits of tenure far exceed the job security, pay raise and promotion experienced by those on the receiving end. Dean of Humanities Linda A. Winkler explains tenure as being “a commitment to the faculty member, but also important to the stability of faculty.”
One factor that adds to faculty stability is academic freedom, which, explains Winkler, provides “a better setting for scholarly pursuit.”
Jane Elmes-Crahall, a member of the Communication Studies department’s personnel committee, said, “The intent originally was to make sure that I (the tenured) have a feeling of security, knowing that if what I’m teaching is correct and true, and is ethical and I can back it up, and I teach well and do all these other things, I can’t be fired because someone in the administration disagrees with me,” she said. “It began as a freedom of speech issue and later evolved into job security.”
Winkler, Crahall and Estwick all believe that when a university provides security for faculty it also secures quality of faculty by giving talented men and women in the teaching profession an incentive to teach there.
“There are a lot of schools moving away from tenure, so tenure makes Wilkes very attractive,” Estwick said. “It shows that the university is committed to keeping good people.”
In addition to tenured faculties response, Winkler said, “Faculty can build upon their career when in a permanent position and faculty careers are also Wilkes careers and their scholarship benefits our students.”
Crahall, too, thinks benefits for the tenured and benefits for the larger Wilkes community are inevitably intertwined.
“Tenure does provide job security, but it has more to do with how much they contribute and what we would lose if they’re not here,” Crahall said. “That’s saying that you are important to this department and university and how we see ourselves changing in the future.”
She also feels that after spending six years with the university and being assured permanence, faculty will be more comfortable starting their own projects and classes.
“So the university really does benefit not only in terms of having more seasoned and proven teachers and mentors, but also from a curriculum point of view” Crahall said.“They will develop new programs that probably would not have been developed before they were tenured.”
Newly tenured members of the Wilkes faculty, in addition to Estwick, include Associate Professors of pharmacy Scott Bolesta and Jonathan Ference, Associate Professors of nursing Susan Malkemes and Cherie Anne Soprano, Associate Professor of biology Lisa Kadlec, Associate Professor of mathematics Fanhui Kong, Associate Professor of business Justin Matus, Associate Professor of music Philip Simon and Associate Professor of English Chad Stanley.