Politicians, here’s what tenure actually means | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
The University of Florida landmark Century Tower.
The University of Florida landmark Century Tower.
Published Nov. 6

Tentative tenure

Proposal worries tenured faculty | Nov. 5

Each day brings a new surprise in the state’s battle against free speech. If they can’t keep faculty from speaking out, perhaps they can remove their tenure status and fire them. As a former chairman of the University of South Florida College of Medicine Rank and Tenure Committee, I can tell you that achieving tenure status is special. Faculty must have outstanding achievements in scholarly activity and be recognized nationally for their work. In the academic world, tenure is associated with excellence, not a rite of passage. I know of no tenured faculty who, after receiving this honor, put their careers on autopilot. If a provost was able to remove this status, that would be a major impediment in recruiting the best people to our universities and would forever impair their missions.

Phil Altus, Tampa

Save the money

Florida’s antibody treatments cost $244M | Nov. 5

Gov. Ron DeSantis is willing to spend $244 million of Florida’s funds for people who are COVID-19 positive, which is happening mainly to unvaccinated people who contract the virus. How about the state pays nothing, since the vaccines are free, and now everyone from ages 5 to 105 is eligible to receive the vaccination that will usually protect from such illness and hospitalizations? That saves the state’s $244 million for useful medical treatments and necessary surgeries. Do the math.

Carol Hess, Hudson

People’s Republic of Florida

Why has the University of Florida become Gov. DeSantis’ press office? | Editorial, Nov. 5

As a professor of political science at Eckerd College, I am particularly troubled at the cynical and dangerous attempt by administrators at the University of Florida (at least until they changed their mind Friday) and the Republican leadership in Tallahassee to silence the expertise of my colleagues at UF who specialize in voting behavior, voting laws and civil rights issues relating to voting in our state and country along with other scholars engaged in important research in our state. I am a professor specializing in international relations, and this strikes me as a set of silencing moves more common in the People’s Republic of China, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Recep Erdogan’s Turkey and other authoritarian regimes.

Mary K. Meyer McAleese, St. Petersburg

A specious argument

Why has the University of Florida become Gov. DeSantis’ press office? | Editorial, Nov. 5

I long worked in academia. Faculty in many disciplines do outside consulting for compensation: business administration, engineering, agriculture, hospitality studies, athletics, and the list goes on. This often applies to deans, chancellors and presidents as well who serve on corporate boards or consult about academic leadership. It seems that as long as you are serving the interests of the state’s economic and political leaders, it is never an issue. But do anything that might challenge them — such as consulting with a union rather than corporate leadership — and there will be pushback. To claim that compensation rather than pro bono service is a distinguishing factor — as the University of Florida did until retreating on Friday — is specious. In many disciplines, outside consulting is not only allowed, it is required. It is part of a discipline’s service responsibilities along with ensuring faculty are keeping up with practical, real-world problems. I have never seen administrators tell an engineer or business faculty that compensation is not allowed. The only issue should be: Does outside compensation contribute to a faculty member’s responsibility to the citizens of the state to produce quality teaching, research and service? The University of Florida policy is a disservice to the taxpayers and should be changed.

Nelson Dometrius, Gulfport