Nearly 40 years have passed since James C. Wetherbe worked his way through graduate school by maintaining campus computer systems. Yet some of what he heard from tenured professors back then remains stuck in his craw.
He recalls having the exchanges in the middle of his workdays as director of computer services at Texas Tech University and, later, at Idaho State University. Some tenured professors would not just tell him they were headed home, but would do so in a manner that suggested they were gloating over their freedom to knock off work early.
He remembers thinking that neither the university nor the professors themselves were well served by their being “that cavalier about their position.”
Mr. Wetherbe went on to earn a doctorate from Texas Tech in management-information systems, organizational behavior, and computer-science management, and to succeed in both business and academe. His life with one foot in the accountability-focused business world caused his reservations about tenure to grow stronger over time. He gave up tenure as a professor at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in the mid-1990s and has not sought it since. <Read more.>