The University of Northern Iowa mission statement elevates the deep care that faculty and staff hold for students and for learning: "Within a challenging and supportive environment, the University of Northern Iowa engages students in high-quality and high-impact learning experiences and emphasizes excellence in teaching and scholarship."
A central component to our ability to maintain high quality learning on the campus is our system of tenure which provides the foundation for academic freedom. In order to pursue the advancement of knowledge in their teaching and their scholarship, faculty must have the ability to question the status quo; to push the boundaries of what is known, thought, and believed; and to explore new and original ideas with their students and in their scholarship.
The work of faculty in a tenure system is essential to the learning outcomes demanded by the professional world: the development of the skills of critical and creative thinking, problem solving, collaborative learning, and communication, as well as the advancement of discipline-specific content knowledge. Without tenure, faculty would not have the freedom to create spaces of learning that are at once "challenging and supportive," as our mission statement holds.
Faculty work diligently under a system of peer review that gauges their work in terms of its quality, originality and applicability. The granting of tenure is the culmination of many years of a very high level of education, strong teaching that transforms students' lives, service to the community and the profession, and research, scholarship, and creative activities that participate in advancing truth.
Tenure does not guarantee a job for life without any form of accountability as some hold. Indeed, the receipt of tenure ushers a faculty member into a new level of expectation where the tenured faculty member becomes a mentor and peer evaluator, provides oversight for the updating and revision of curriculum, and continues to produce scholarly work at high levels. Tenured faculty serve, and through serving, enrich their university, local, state, national and professional communities.
We stand in strong support of the tenure system, working with faculty to advance a high level of teaching, learning, service, and scholarship on our campus and for the betterment of the people of Iowa. We look forward to continuing our partnership with United Faculty as we strengthen our ability to celebrate excellence and offer opportunities for professional development throughout the arc of a faculty member's career.
Mark A. Nook