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Ask Uncle John Anything: You Can’t Fire Me, I’ve Got Tenure

February 17, 2015

Uncle John knows pretty much everything—and if he doesn’t, he heads his massive research library, or puts one of his many associates on the case. So go ahead: In the comments below, ask Uncle John anything. (And if we answer your question sometime, we’ll send you a free book!)

What does it mean when a college professor has “tenure”? Can they really not be fired?

What does having tenure meanTenure doesn’t come instantly. It’s a privilege bestowed on teachers or professors after several years of a high-quality job performance at a school, college, or institution as a reward—generally after three, or five years.

Tenure is job security, but it’s not absolute job security. Tenure means that a job is guaranteed, if there’s a job available. For example, if a school cuts positions, the remaining positions are filled from a list of the most tenured instructor, on down the line until the positions are filled.

It’s a myth that a tenured professor can do whatever they want and not get fired. A tenured professor or teacher is guaranteed a hearing rather than outright dismissal for any wrongdoing. And even then, those accusations and the subsequent hearing must be met with substantial proof that the professor did something wrong. Tenure in this regard is a “fair shot,” not bulletproof status.

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why do some people yell “geronimo” before jumping off or out of something? Where did that get started?

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