How can universities insulate tenure decisions from political influence?

Laura Crimaldi and Jack Lyons
Boston Globe

Excerpt: Nikole Hannah-Jones’s tangle with the University of North Carolina seems to many yet another reason to dismiss the tenure system as the preserve of a white, male hierarchy intolerant of divergent views and inattentive to the need for diversity. But some academicians and experts say the whole episode actually shows why tenure remains so critical to protecting academic freedoms — and how the system for granting tenure itself needs to be safeguarded from political influence.

In recent years, tenure has come under fire from many quarters: administrators who don’t like the personnel and budgetary constraints; conservatives who object to entrenched liberal politics in academia; students and academics who complain tenure committees prioritize publishing over teaching; and critics who believe tenure protects an old guard of white, male professors at the expense of younger and more diverse scholars.