McGregor Faculty Speak on Tenure

At McGregor, as in all other satellites of Antioch University, faculty are under limited-year contracts that do not entitle them to the protection and rights that tenured faculty benefit from. “No tenure adds to a sense of contingency,” remarked Professor Joe Cronin, “you could be let go for any reason any year.… Next year if there isn’t enough money, my job might not be there.”

Professor Jim Malarkey joined McGregor at its creation and has been working at Antioch for 22 years. Yet he too does not benefit from contractual employment security. He does not feel like the lack of tenure has been impairing his academic freedom, even when teaching such controversial subjects as Middle Eastern studies. “I’m more afraid of Homeland Security than of Antioch University Administration,” he commented, “they care about revenue.” Professor Susanne Fest corroborated this view, recounting “I have been very free to teach my courses…. I have never experienced any interference in terms of my teaching and my research.”

Involvement of faculty in governance is another issue, however. “Faculty governance to date is negligible, not to say nonexistent” said Fest, whereas Cronin remarked, “Many important decisions are made from top-down, often in ways that do not include faculty.” Malarkey pointed out the ideological contradiction between the institution’s values and its practices. “Douglas McGregor was famous for his theory of participatory management. If we’re naming ourselves after McGregor, there’s a lot of changes to be made about the way we govern ourselves,” he declared. “I think that’s a serious problem; not enough attention is given to sustain that legacy.”

“Whether I get a multi-year contract after this article on it is a real question. So watch what happens next year.”

The uncertainty generated by the lack of tenure can go as far as limit professors’ liberty to speak out. “We are a very cautious faculty,” commented Fest, “because we don’t want to jeopardize our jobs.… So far I’ve got the multi-year contract that I’ve applied for. Whether I get a multi-year contract after this article appears with my name on it is a real question. So watch what happens next year.”

McGregor President Barbara Danley declared that Vice Chancellor for University Academic Affairs Laurien Alexandre was looking into the possibility of a multiple year contract for faculty university-wide. She stated that it was not in her power to decide on implementing tenure at McGregor as the decision is made “across the university.”

“If we had tenure at McGregor, we would have a very different faculty,” predicted Fest, who emphasized the difference of cultures between the college and adult campuses. She mentioned “certain obligations that come with [tenure]” like the production of scholar work. She told of her own experience as a non-first career academic. “Competing against students in their late twenties or early thirties who had gone through high powered university programs would have been impossible,” she said, and added that many McGregor faculty were in similar positions.

“The trend in history is more contingent faculty, and I don’t like this trend,” said Cronin. The subject of tenure reaches far beyond the border of the Antioch University system, and can be envisioned as a political issue. “Higher education right now is in a period of time where corporatization is pushing in every direction,” declared Malarkey, raising the “question of the extent to which the University needs to be corporatized.”