On Nov. 26, Eliot Cutler offered a grim perspective of the University of Maine System, to which Stanley Wisniewski responded, in a Dec. 3 Another View guest editorial, correcting some of Cutler’s overly broad and outdated claims. Like Wisniewski, I believe that administrator-faculty collaboration is necessary for moving the university system forward. Misrepresenting the tenure system and ignoring the contemporary alternatives, as Cutler did, is counterproductive to such collaboration.

Cutler did not describe what a tenureless system looks like in today’s academic workforce. Currently, many non-tenure track adjunct instructors teach classes at four or more institutions, carry the burden of massive student loans, spend evenings and weekends grading and course planning, all often earning below poverty-level wages. Adjunct instructors are often not provided offices, working laptops or job security beyond a semester-long contract. Is this the alternative to tenure toward which Cutler encourages the University of Maine System to move?

Cutler dismissed tenure as “a vestigial remnant of a time when teaching and research faculties in universities needed protection from attacks on their political or religious beliefs or when age or gender could be used as criteria in hiring.”

While he enjoys the privileged sentiment that such a time has passed, he might consider that women and people of color make up much of the contingent labor workforce at universities, nationally: The New Faculty Majority Foundation notes that the rise in contingent positions coincided with the rise in women graduating from doctoral programs.

Wisniewski notes that Cutler’s potentially limited vision for the University of Maine System would not serve it well. I hope that we, as a community, can rise above such limited, bureaucratic vision, and create a more sustainable and inclusive path forward for public higher education in Maine.

Elizabeth Powers

assistant professor of English, University of Maine at Augusta

Brunswick resident