Tenure track will no longer guarantee professorship
Scientific employees who start out as assistant professor on a tenure track always end up as professors, as long as they meet publishing requirements and bring in sufficient grant money.
Back when the university only had regular professorships and new people were hired only when professors died or retired, this system worked perfectly. But it’s led to some unintended consequences: there are too many professors.
Not all professors make good managers. ‘Some people simply don’t have the skills to be a group leader’, rector Cisca Wijmenga said during a recent university council meeting. ‘It requires both hard and soft skills. So we’re seeing things happening as a result of people lacking those skills that we don’t want.’
The process needs to be customised. Right now, they only have a research track in place, but the board of directors envisions tracks for education, impact, leadership, and clinical work, with the latter applying only to the UMCG.
The Faculties of Science and Engineering and Economics and Business want to set up pilots for tenure tracks that can end in the position of associate professor.
The plan has been met with criticism. Simon van der Pol with the council’s personnel faction is worried this will create a ceiling that young researchers won’t be able to break through. Lorenzo Squintani with the science faction doesn’t think the new plans will solve much.
According to Squintani, the people lacking leadership skills are already professors. ‘Things are already out of whack. Several faculties lack the room to promote staff to higher positions.’
Wijmenga acknowledges the problem, but still feels that the process of appointing professors should be scrutinised. She hopes other faculties will follow the FEB and FSE example. ‘Other faculties have said that they’re interested in doing a pilot.’