April 5, 2012

Letter to the Editor: A Positive Look at Tenured Professors

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Re: “Cornell Leans on Tenured Profs” News, April 4

The Cornell Sun’s coverage of statistics suggesting that Cornell has a high ratio of tenured to adjunct faculty framed this finding primarily as a negative thing — a problem to be solved. While The Sun did include quotations to the effect that Cornell’s lower levels of adjunct faculty was of benefit to the University, all of these were placed in the second half of the article and on the inside pages, apparently in mitigation of the overall disappointment at Cornell’s commitment to tenured faculty.

I would suggest that this is rather something that Cornell should take pride in. A commitment to hiring faculty such that they have a degree of financial security, access to full employment benefits and the full use of institutional supports does not seem to be something that should prompt apologies or the wringing of hands. Attempts to increase the use of adjuncts should alarm Cornell students concerned that their professors are able to give their fullest attention and commitment to students’ academic development. As an instance of the broader phenomenon of the casualization of the labor force, students should be equally concerned about the consequences of a trend toward greater economic insecurity for workers in all spheres.

Simon Gilhooley grad