Tenure is a professor’s contractual right not to have his or her position terminated without just cause—and it’s almost unheard of to fire a professor with tenure. Tenure offers professors an incredible amount of job security and protects the academic freedom of experienced professors. Tenure was formally introduced in the U.S. in 1915 by the A.A.U.P. in their Declaration of Principle on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure.
So, why exactly does tenure exist? It’s because people have been killed for their teachings. The Athenian Philosopher Socrates was convicted of heresy for denying the gods and corrupting the young through his teachings. He chose to be put to death by drinking hemlock (poison), although his students were willing to help him escape. Tenure is expensive—tenured professors have an average salary of $95,224. This is about ten thousand dollars more than the average salary of non-tenured professors. Students actually tend to learn more from these non-tenured professors in their introductory courses, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research at Northwestern University. It’s possible for tenured professors to become lazy and inflexible over time.
To learn more about the dangers of tenure in academia, check out the infographic below!