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OPINION

Letter to editor: Eliminating tenure would hurt universities' competitiveness

Stephen Biggs, Ames

If the state legislature eliminates tenure at Iowa’s state universities, then most faculty who can get jobs at other universities will leave. Before long, our faculty will be mostly people who can’t get academic jobs anywhere else. Our universities will be as competitive as an NFL roster filled with players who can’t make another team. A team filled with these practice squad players would get demolished every game. Similarly, without tenure, our universities will downgrade from competitive to mere practice squads that don’t belong in the league. Correspondingly, degrees from our universities will mean little to employers, except that the recipient didn’t attend a real school.

Perhaps the legislators who support eliminating tenure want to destroy our state universities. But I doubt it. I suspect they don’t know that most faculty take tenure to be a significant part of their compensation. I suspect they don’t know that removing that compensation would make their jobs no longer attractive enough to stay. And I suspect they don’t know how much better the current faculty are than what they would be if everyone capable of avoiding our universities did. Hopefully, they figure all of this out in time.

Stephen Biggs, Ames