One is to do away with tenure and instead sign on faculty with multi-year contracts. They don't go into much detail into how this would work. But I imagine there are some merits and demerits of the plan, some of which depend on how they are implemented. Merits:
- It would open up opportunities on the academic job market and end the lifetime entrenchment of faculty.
- It would both increase accountability of faculty members while at the same time reducing the pressure on non-tenured junior faculty.
- Contracts, depending on how they are drafted and how they are offered, might open a way for people who are today adjuncts to sign on for a little stability.
- It would potentially open the door to invidious discrimination against, say, older professors and against professors who have a lot of family obligations--people who may not be able to take on the tasks that younger people with fewer ties can take on. I would say, however, that the current system, at least at research oriented universities, already have such a bias against newly minted people on the job market who are older or who have a lot of family responsibilities. The pressure on junior faculty to publish and to serve on committees is, I hear, intense and carries with it no necessary guarantee of tenure.
- It could make such items as student evaluations inordinately determinative in who gets a contract, or at least a second contract. I'm not against the idea of student evaluations per se, but they can be misused.