Initial reactions to the promotion of 14 new full professors included surprise amongst students. Taking the University’s small size into account, with approximately 350 full-time faculty members, the appointment of 14 new full professors seemed to be quite high. However, 62 percent of faculty are tenured (“About Bucknell: Fast Facts,” Bucknell.edu), something that many students don’t realize.
An article from May of last year in The Chronicle of Higher Education stated, “Less than a quarter of college leaders … said they would prefer full-time, tenured professors to make up most of the faculty at their institutions. Instead, 69 percent said they would prefer that a majority of faculty work under long-term or annual contracts” (“Most Presidents Prefer No Tenure for Majority of Faculty,” May 15, 2011).
With tenured positions costing universities so much money over time, it seems unlikely that any school would want to offer any professors tenure, yet universities continue the tenure track in order to keep great professors and researchers on their campuses.
Here at the University, this is apparent in the quality of professors who are granted tenure. Rarely are students able to tell the difference between tenured and non-tenured professors based on engagement with students and work ethic. Real efforts are made in promoting faculty members to tenure status that have truly made an impact on the students.
Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Mike Toole ’83 not only advises the civil & environmental engineering class of 2013 and teaches courses each semester, but he also organizes the ILTM program each year, an interdisciplinary engineering and management summer program for rising juniors. Professor of English Shara McCallum recently organized a multi-lingual poetry reading held in Bucknell Hall in addition to her standard teaching course load. Both of these professors received approval for full-professor status in April, and neither has decreased their efforts to engage students inside and outside of the classroom.
It is the passion for teaching and learning that provides the University and its students with the education for which it is nationally recognized and applauded. By locking passionate, engaged professors in for long-term teaching commitments, the University is putting student interests first.
Inspiring and engaging faculty members provide the enthusiasm students need to succeed in class; they advise the extracurriculars that build our resumes as well as provide us with stimulating activities. The fact that a growing apathy doesn’t exist among our tenured professors actively proves the commitment they have to us as students.