This is one of the stranger (but not the strangest!*) anecdotes in Higher Education?, a book by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus:
"When faculty members do have power, they often use it to resist. When [Colgate University president Rebecca] Chopp tried to enlist faculty to invite students into their homes so they could see professors in another setting, she found few takers. "They have tenure," she said, and sighed, "They do whatever they want."
Drat those tenured professors. There they go again, abusing the power that tenure confers. It would be much, much better if they had to fear for their jobs and felt they had no choice but to allow students into their homes.
Just because some professors work 60 hours a week and might want to keep some separation of home and work, doesn't mean they should be allowed to do this. And who cares what significant others and offspring (and pets!) might think about this? If you're related to a professor, their job is your job. Deal with it.
Haven't we all heard stories of legendary professors whose homes were open to their students at all hours of the day and night? Why can't we all be like that?
If we truly cared about our students, we would want them to come to our homes, gaze at our off-campus lives, and meet our families (and pets!) in situ. That way, we would not intimidate them so much and they would feel more comfortable coming to our office hours.
There are some professors, tenured or not, who enjoy having students routinely visit their homes and be "one of the family". Others want their home to be a respite from work, even if they do quite a bit of work at home.
I really don't see the reluctance of some professors to open their homes to student visits as a convincing argument against tenure or as supporting evidence for how little professors care about their students.
* My vote for the strangest part of the book is the paragraph in which the authors describe a "workingman" who "jumped on a subway track to rescue a child who tripped and fell." The workingman didn't think; he just did it. The authors posit that professors on that same platform would not have jumped on the track to save the child:
"We wonder if, had some professors been on the platform, would they have paused to ponder how John Stuart Mill might have parsed the choices?"
I wonder if that is a sane thing to wonder. Of course the professors would save the child. What better way to combine broader impacts, a synergistic activity, and outreach?
8 years ago