Teachers not on the tenure track can be among the very best at Yale

To the Editor:

With regard to the UOC’s letter to parents decrying Yale’s supposed reliance on “transient” instructors: as a member of the Teaching & Learning Committee for four years, I had the pleasure of reading the nominations by undergraduates for Yale’s teaching prizes. Every year these letters demonstrate that some of Yale’s very best teachers and advisors are “non-ladder” (i.e. not tenured or tenure track).

All across the curriculum, particularly in foreign languages, we have dedicated non-ladder instructors who have put their full effort for many years into teaching undergraduates, something few of us on the tenure track can say. One might argue that Yale should provide greater status and rewards for these individuals, but to suggest that they are “transient,” or that students are in any way poorly served by having them as teachers and advisors, is a preposterous undeserved insult.

Charles Bailyn

September 25, 2003

The writer is chair of the department of astronomy.

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