Thursday, February 23, 2017

As Tenure is Targeted, Will More Academics Become Think Tankers?

Republican lawmakers are targeting tenure at universities, which leads Think Tank Watch to wonder if more professors may choose to move to think tanks for more safety (and money?).

Here is more from The Wall Street Journal:
For decades, tenured professors held some of the most prestigious and secure jobs in the U.S. Now, their status is under attack at public and private colleges alike.
In states facing budget pressures such as Missouri, North Dakota and Iowa, Republican lawmakers have introduced bills for the current legislative sessions to eliminate tenure, cut back its protections or create added hoops that tenured faculty at public colleges must jump through to keep their jobs. University administrators, struggling to shave their costs, are trying to limit the ranks of tenured professors or make it easier to fire them.
The institution of tenure—which provides job security and perks like regular sabbaticals—began in the U.S. early in the 20th century as a bulwark against interference from administrators, corporate interests and politicians who might not like professors’ opinions or agree with their research.
Attacks on tenure have become commonplace in the wake of the recession as reductions in public support for colleges led to steep tuition increases that have driven up student debt and magnified scrutiny on the business practices of universities. Conservative lawmakers also have expressed mounting displeasure with university professors, saying they indoctrinate impressionable students with a liberal point of view.

Think tanks typically don't have a tenure-track, although at many think tanks it takes quite an effort to be fired.

For any professors thinking about moving to think tank land, here is a piece from Ted Bromund (Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation) about moving from academia to a think tank.

It seems as if some Ph.D. students are already thinking the tenure track and considering jobs at think tanks.

Some have also noted that many colleges and universities have become "inhospitable" to certain viewpoints, and thus, they are choosing to become think tankers.

This Wisconsin think tank is urging significant reform in university tenure rules.

Some have said that tenure is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for intellectual boldness.

Does anyone remember the incident in the 1980s when a dispute over granting tenure was seen as a threat to Stanford's think tank (Center for International Security and Arms Control)?

Here is a podcast on leaving tenure to set up an international trade think tanks.

Don't forget to check out Think Tank Watch's think tank salary guide here.