Faculty Resolutions Regarding Lack of Tenure at the Keck Graduate Institute
We recognize the different character of the Keck Graduate Institute, which will rely on relationships among scientists, business, and government. We maintain, however, that the complex and potentially controversial nature of these relationships makes the argument for tenure more compelling, not less so. The field of biotechnology has raised, and will continue to raise, numerous ethical and social issues. It is difficult to see how free, balanced, and open scientific inquiry can be fostered in the absence of the protection of tenure.
Furthermore, the Keck Graduate Institute will be a member of the Claremont Colleges consortium. The consortium requires shared values and cooperation among its members and relies upon shared governance; the character of such joint deliberations would be greatly compromised by the introduction and full participation in the consortium of an institution without tenured faculty. We therefore urge the Keck Graduate Institute to reverse its decision to create an institution without tenure.Harvey Mudd College expresses its deep concern regarding the viability of academic freedom and faculty governance in any academic institution where tenure is not offered to qualifying faculty members. This faculty urges the Keck Graduate Institute to reconsider establishing a system of tenure for its faculty. Pomona College Faculty, condemn the unilateral decision of the Keck Graduate Institute to have an entirely non-tenured faculty. History has abundantly shown that academic freedom does not flourish in an institution unless a substantial fraction of the faculty has the protection of tenure. Even if an administration fully intends to protect academic freedom, faculty will invariably suffer forms of indirect censorhip. There can be no meaningful faculty participation in governance especially in the areas of appointments, renewals, and promotions without tenure. Moreover, many faculty without tenure will engage in self-censorship on issues perceived as important to the institution, its donors, or grant-giving agencies. The administration of KGI claims that even without the institution of tenure they will be able to protect the ability of their faculty to engage freely in scientific research and to publish the results of this research. Even if this were true, in the absence of tenure we would be very skeptical about the possibility of free and open discussion of ethical and societal issues related to biotechnology and its commercialization. Only tenure, in combination with its traditional supporting institutions and procedures, provides the protection that makes true academic freedom in all these areas possible.
The absence of tenured faculty strongly violates the norms expected of a responsbile academic institution. We are worried that this decision, which has been defended in a document that attacks the very institution of tenure, will harm the reputation of Pomona and the other Claremont Colleges in the American academic community. We are particularly disturbed that the discussion of the creation and design of the Keck Graduate Institute went forward under the reasonable assumption that KGI would grant tenure, though it is now clear that the administration of KGI did not share this assumption.
Now that tenure at KGI has finally become a subject of open discussion in the Claremont Colleges, we hope that KGI will reevaluate its decision. We once looked forward to welcoming the Keck Graduate Institute as a full and respected member of the Claremont Colleges with a high level of cooperation with the other colleges. Unfortunately, the lack of tenure for Keck faculty will be a significant obstacle to trust among our faculty. Full acceptance and a high level of cooperation will be possible only if the Keck Institute reverses its decision to have a fully non-tenured faculty.Claremont Graduate University joins with the faculties of our sister colleges (Pitzer College, Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College, and Scripps College) in opposing the decision of the Keck Graduate Institute to build a faculty without benefit of tenure. We share the concerns of our sister faculties that, in the absence of a tenure system, the safeguarding of academic freedom, the bedrock upon which quality teaching and research rests, is a difficult and uncertain undertaking.
Tenure not only protects the academic freedom of the faculty. It also safeguards academic institutions, themselves, on those rare but critical occasions when they are in jeopardy from unwise or ethically problematic administrative decisions. Only a tenured faculty can come to the institutionís defense with necessary strength to protect its integrity in such circumstances.
Keck Graduate Institute asserts that its institutional uniqueness, with broad and deep relationships between the institution and the biotechnology industry, negates the need for, and usefulness of, tenure as a faculty protection. To the contrary, we believe that the very nature of these potentially commercial relationships, and the numerous ethical and policy issues involved in the field of biotechnology, make the protections of the tenure system all the more important in securing the facultyís freedom to select research questions and arrive at conclusions unfettered by external or administrative pressure.
Like our colleagues in Claremont, we, too, recognize that the reputations and programs of the consortium and its individual members are deeply intertwined. We are all directly affected by the decisions made at member institutions. We believe the character of the consortiumís external reputation, and the collegiality we currently enjoy, will suffer significant harm should KGI proceed with its plans to form a faculty without benefit of tenure.
We therefore oppose the Keck Graduate Instituteís decision to forgo a tenure system, and urge it to reconsider.
Whereas historically in U.S. higher education, the weakening, disestablishment, or absence of tenure has greatly harmed academic freedom;
Whereas the prestige of the Claremont Colleges is based on their reputation for excellence in teaching and research, which depends on their well-established shared traditions of academic freedom; and
Whereas the Keck Graduate Institute will be concerned with the field of biotechnology, in which complex and controversial questions have already arisen concerning the relationship between science,, business, and government, and which - KGI's own recognition of the need for an ethicist shows - raises ethical, social, and public-policy questions which require robust and free discussion;
The Faculty of Pitzer College opposes the announced plans of the leadership of the Keck Graduate School not to establish the institute of tenure for its faculty, and the Pitzer Faculty further oppose the membership of KGI in the Claremont Consortium, unless the announced plans of KGI leadership are reversed and tenure is established at KGI.
The Faculty of Pitzer College also urges the Faculties of the Claremont Graduate University, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Scripps College to examine proactively the conditions or lack thereof for academic freedom at KGI; and we hope that these faculties will join us in strongly opposing the decision of the KGI leadership not to establish the institution of tenure at KGI.
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