Firing Faculty and Lack of Agency

Recently, an Iowa legislator proposed a ‘Hunger Games’ scenario for faculty retention:

A bill circulating in the Iowa State Senate offers a novel (and cutthroat) way to hold professors accountable: putting their fates into students’ hands, Survivor-style. Every year the professor most disliked by students would be voted off the campus.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Mark Chelgren, a Republican, would require the state’s public universities to rate professors’ performance based solely on students’ evaluations of their teaching effectiveness. Professors whose evaluation scores didn’t reach a minimum threshold would be automatically fired by the university.

Then comes the competition. The names of the five professors with the lowest ratings above the minimum threshold would be published online. Students would then vote on those professors’ future employment — and the professor with the fewest votes would be fired, regardless of tenure status or contract terms.

This is the justification (boldface mine):

There are definitely some professors who feel that way but not the majority, in my opinion. I’m hoping this wakes some of those professors up and says, Listen, we have a situation in this country where we are having these young adults leave college with massive debt. I want to make sure the education they are receiving matches the amount of debt they have or the amount of money they’ve spent. I think this is one of the first steps to make sure that happens.

I would humbly suggest to the Honorable Representative that he might, as a legislator in the Great State of Iowa, might be able to do something about that crushing student debt. Like provide more funding to his state’s universities so the students pay less.

Agency, how does it work?

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2 Responses to Firing Faculty and Lack of Agency

  1. jrkrideau says:

    I don’t know anything about the Iowa higher eduction system but it sounds like a good idea to me. With any luck we, here in Canada, can pick up some top-notch academics, maybe even complete labs or research groups, across a lot of disciplines. And the weather, here, is not likely to be that much of a hurdle.

    Of course, if someone proposed something like it in Canada I’d call them a raving, bat-shit crazy lunatic. I don’t think even our more insane Conservative loons are anywhere near that mad.

  2. Daisee says:

    This was exactly what was done in the Roman Senate in the earliest days of democracies. Sadly only 1 was ejected each year. Not a new idea.

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