The Spinoff (Part 3): Does Faculty Tenure Harm Commercialization?

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The Spinoff (Part 3): Does Faculty Tenure Harm Commercialization?


Tenure is supposed to ring-fence the right to academic freedom, helping tenured professors to challenge the status quo without reprisal. It has been my observation that people who challenge the status quo are those who possess a rare combination of courage and humility; no job can guarantee that.

Whatever its original goal, tenure is a quaint economic anachronism, wholly unsustainable in the Great Stagnation. The rafters are falling on post-secondary education in the G20: money is scarce. Health spending as a proportion of gross domestic product is biting more and more out of public education; it is also constricting the ability to pay out-of-pocket for much of private education. As parents increasingly seek value-for-money for their children’s post-secondary education, they will opt for schools like the tenure-free Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts. Just a decade old, the engineering school – where each admitted student receives a scholarship that pays for half tuition -- is highly ranked (8th in undergraduate engineering by U.S. News and World Report). Teachers and curricula get evaluated constantly by students and alumni. A culture of entrepreneurship thrives. During senior year, students work with a local company as consultants on real engineering projects.

Start date December 2010

End date December 2010

People Neil Seeman