Innaccurate statement about tenure abuses pointed out


I must point out one particular inaccurate statement attributed to me in your June 14th (Wildcat) story about "Tenure." I am quoted as saying "... on the other hand, the abuses on tenure that are being perpetrated by professors who are not performing are not as strong as abuse by the administration." That is patently false. What I did say was that in my opinion, the administration had abused the system to come up with the recent decision of closing the Statistics Department and that admitted abuses of the tenure system by the faculty did not justify this abuse by the administration. Even in my own mind, I would not take such blatant sides without having enough data to support such a statement and I most definitely would not state it publicly unless the data could be justified publicly.

I do believe that as systems go, the tenure system is no exception in the sense that examples of abuse from either side can be demonstrated with copious anecdotes. None of the abuses are because the system is fundamentally flawed but because of the human tendancy to exploit whatever system one is working with. For this reason, I do not support the modern movement of "breaking the tenure" which somehow indicates that the system itself is evil and by "breaking it" we will fix what ails our academic institutions. In fact what ails us is inability of either side to rise above the political squabbles, which brings the struggle down to the mundane level of "what is legal." At UA, the budget problem will be helped substantially if the administration had the courage to "break tenure" due to non-performance rather than threatening to fire tenured faculty from eliminated departments. Knowingly, or unknowingly, this discussion on the tenure system is acting as a subterfuge from the flaws in the recent education plans by the administration to train the students for the 21st Century.

The biggest such flaw in my opinion, is the elimination of the Statistics Department in the day and age when the students increasingly and desperately need formal training in making decisions and dealing with uncertainty. It is this issue that I talked about at length with the reporter who wanted to ask me "... some questions" about the recent closure of the Department. The tenure issue was a small aside.

I have not bothered previously to correct inaccuracies in reporting because partly I accept it as a necessary compromise for modern life and partly because I view the Wildcat reporters more as students than as reporters. This incidence is, however, outside of the tolerance limits.

Yashaswini Mittal

Statisitics Department Head

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