TENURE AND FACULTY GOVERNANCE AT USC
Being a professor at USC certainly has its perks, but working in an institution dedicated to meaningful shared governance is not one of them. On this blog I will document some of the ongoing struggles that USC faculty encounter as well as post documents that may be of interest to USC faculty (and others).
One of my biggest concerns about USC is what I see as a capricious tenure process. Not only are many tenure decisions a mystery, but the process is extremely secretive, there are many instances of irregularities, and the Provost (Elizabeth Garrett) is continuously expanding her decision-making power - thus undermining what process does exist. For example, last year in widely-publicized case, a woman with an exceptional record was denied tenure. We later found out that the dean had made "cold-calls" to scholars in her discipline (but not necessarily her field). As the whole story unraveled we learned that the Provost had told the then dean (Howard Gillman - now provost of UC Irvine) to make the calls. To make matters even worse, we then found out that the provost, as written in the Faculty Handbook, has the right to circumvent the entire process. Specifically, "The provost may authorize exceptions or waivers to this manual or other policies." Of course, what this ultimately means is that there is NO tenure process that must be adhered to on the part of the administration. Actually, this would explain a whole lot.
One of the end results is that white men are tenured at significantly higher rates than white women and people of color in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences (USC's largest teaching unit). Interestingly, Asian American women have the lowest rate of tenure.
Below is a report completed by USC Professor Jane Junn on tenure outcomes in the College. Faculty have repeatedly asked for data on tenure outcomes, but the administration refuses to provide it. Administrators say they are protecting our "privacy."
Instead, we are supposed to simply believe them when they say that there are no statistical differences in tenure outcomes. I find it deeply ironic (and problematic) that a university administration engages in a practice that is not accepted in academia as whole: refusing to reveal one's data and methods.