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Faulty Towers: Tenure and the Structure of Higher Education Paperback – March 1, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A comprehensive and telling analysis of tenure issues . . . The well-argued and sound recommendations would result in better research and teaching." -- Herbert J. Walberg, emeritus research professor of education and psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

"A very sensible, balanced and informed book on the complex problems of governing colleges and universities." -- Nathan Glazer, professor of education and sociology, emeritus, Harvard University

"Uncloaks the mystery of tenure. A must read for anyone interested in the very real problems of higher education." -- John W. Sommer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina, Charlotte; former dean, School of Social Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas

"We must seriously reassess the rules that govern higher education. Amacher and Meiners are clear-headed guides for this endeavor." -- Donald J. Boudreaux, professor of economics, George Mason University

About the Author

Roger Meiners is the Goolsby Distinguished Professor in the College of Business at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he teaches Legal Environment of Business.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Independent Institute (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945999895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945999898
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,407,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Wanda B. Red VINE VOICE on March 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book brings an objective economic analysis to the incentive structure of higher education. To this extent, it marks a welcome intervention into the polarized current debate on the topic of tenure. The authors' (Amacher and Meiners) original insight is that tenure is not the problem, but rather the scapegoat for other defects in the incentive structure of a large bureaucratized system of higher education. The early chapters on the history of tenure are very informative; I for one did not know that its original purpose was less to safeguard academic freedom than to get rid of nonperforming junior faculty.

Both authors have a background in the University of Texas system, so their focus is much more on the problems of large, highly bureaucratized systems than on private colleges and universities. Thus, the lessons of the book apply selectively. This book will be more useful to someone wishing to understand a large university system, with multiple campuses and subject to the oversight of Regents and ultimately a legislature, than to the reader interested in private schools. Finally, the authors want public universities to behave more like private ones, with vouchers that let students exercise their control as "consumers."

This makes an interesting argument -- and after years in higher education I am also of the view that the incentive structure works against change and improvement. But this argument is not as "objective" as it pretends to be. Their bias against the shared governance procedures that characterize most institutions of higher learning is so extreme as to be a bit laughable. Any faculty, according to this analysis, who shoulder committee responsibilities are likely to be "below-average-quality faculty. . . .
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will try to keep this review short in light of some longer reviews on here. To me, this book has something of a bipolar nature to it. I bought the book to learn a little bit more about the history of tenure. This is a very short book, but it does indeed have some interesting information on the history and perceptions of tenure, especially in the US. In this sense, the authors present some useful and thought-provoking ideas when trying to get a grasp on what tenure does and should mean. Unfortunately, it seems as though there is an underlying anti-government, pro-voucher, pro-privatization current to the book that pops up every now and then and diverts attention away from a solid discussion of tenure towards what seems to be a more politically-motivated discussion on how to make education more efficient. While this does make the book thought-provoking in some ways, ultimately, the characterization of large state universities as being more decrepit and prone to stagnation that smaller private schools makes the whole argument seem suspect. Overall, I would recommend this book with the caveat that the reader should beware of some libertarian-leaning aspects to the argument.
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