After careful review, we are happy to announce that your binder has been granted tenure. The reviewing committee was very impressed by its size and durability. It was truly one of the finest binders we have reviewed in recent memory. We are honored to add it to our “tenured” shelf. Unfortunately, you, the owner of the binder, have been terminated.
In their report, the tenure committee praised your binder’s dignified navy blue color and its soothing matte, non-stick finish. The committee made special mention of its ease of use, particularly the genius little lever that easily opens and closes the rings. Only the clumsiest of reviewers would ever pinch their finger (talking about you, Richard!). The additional pockets on the inside covers, although too thin to be practical, are still very stylish, and they give your binder a confident, self-assured swagger.
But what really sold the committee was what was inside—stunning, 24-lb ivory linen paper. Such high-quality paper really gave your achievements a satisfying heft. Committee members even took the effort to remove the paper and feel for themselves its luxuriant texture. And the stylish plastic dividers with their printed labels made flipping through your record like a summer drive on a well-marked country road. Just beautiful.
Sadly, despite your binder’s great success, you, person, have not been tenured. As you are aware, tenure is an expensive proposition with little benefit to the university. Tenured faculty demand raises, they like to meddle in administrative affairs, and they take up a lot of space. Binders, on the other hand, are extremely cost-effective, mostly silent, and very space-efficient. We have calculated that your office alone could house close to two hundred three-inch binders. Such a massive savings of space will allow the expansion of our Entrepreneurial Innovation Disruption Hub and Café—a key part of our strategic plan and a real cash cow for the university.
You are probably asking how a university can run on binders? Well, it is surprisingly easy. First, binders are very portable, just one handcart can distribute hundreds of binders everywhere—classrooms, offices, and laboratories — in just a few hours. Binders also make assessment a cinch. Just a click, a few page flips, and presto!—we have all the numbers we need. No rubrics or complicated software, just a patient janitor and a scanner. Job done!
Alas, change is the only constant in higher education, and the university has started a program to digitize all binders and move toward an entirely electronic system. But don’t fear, the designers of our digital binder system have assured us that the interface will, in fact, still resemble a binder. You will even be able to customize the shape, color, and material of your digital binder in ways once unimaginable. The digital age is truly a wonder, no?
We are aware of the student complaints about binder-run classrooms, but the cost-savings on instruction were just too large to ignore. And we have taken measures to make the binders more welcoming to students. Rather than staring at blank ones sitting on tables, students will now have binders with photographs of real people on them (also, a gentle reminder to please send us a glossy 8 ½ x 11 headshot). Further, our binders will help us to achieve a truly diverse faculty—a careful selection of white, black, yellow, and brown binders allows us to finally display the great diversity of our community.
But even binders have a shelf-life, and the university has contracted with a vendor that has promised a “retirement” that is sensitive to the community’s needs. Binders will be removed late in the evening and shredded discretely in the parking lot behind the student center. In some cases, at the Provost’s suggestion, a few high-achieving binders may qualify for emeritus status. Unfortunately, however, we cannot return photographs.
Even as we congratulate a new binder on earning tenure, we recognize that you, person, may be struggling with this decision. Your binder, after all, contains a written record of many of the great things you have done, all the papers you’ve published and classes you’ve taught. The university is deeply grateful for those achievements. Your binder could not have achieved its success without you. But be assured that your talents will live on, long since you have left our academic community. Take comfort in the fact that because you chose such a top-notch binder, future generations will be able to admire, and be inspired by, the truly exceptional paper and plastic representation of your achievements for decades to come.