When Georgia’s Board of Regents approved a new policy at the end of 2021 that allows its state colleges’ administration to punish tenured faculty without pushback, AAUP President Irene Mulvey called the state an “outlier.” It seems as though eliminating tenure is slowly moving closer to the mean.
While South Carolina’s “Cancelling Professor Tenure Act” bill has stalled and Iowa’s House File 49 died in January of this year, Texas’s Senate has approved axing tenure, and a North Carolina bill has recently hit the legislative floor. Similarly, Florida and Ohio’s respective bills are steadily moving through the state House and Senate.
It isn’t just politicians who have a problem with professor tenure. Some institutions don’t want to wait for statewide policies to begin cleaning house.
Here is an update of states and schools that have recently put tenure on the chopping block.
The Texas Senate passed a bill 18-11 formally discontinuing granting tenure to employees on April 20. One Democrat favored the bill.
“Tenured university professors are the only people in our society that have the guarantee of a job. Over the past year, it has become abundantly clear that some tenured faculty at Texas universities feel immune to oversight from the legislature and their respective board of regents,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “These professors claim ‘academic freedom’ and hide behind their tenure to continue blatantly advancing their agenda of societal division.”
However, Patrick’s fervor may be cooled at the House, according to the Texas Tribune.
Republican-sponsored House Bill 715, dubbed the “Higher Education Modernization & Affordability Act,” seeks to eliminate North Carolina’s current tenure program and replace it with a contract program, according to WRAL News. It was filed on April 18.
The contracts can only last up to four years, though professors could be fired, suspended or demoted for “incompetence, neglect of duty, serious misconduct, unsatisfactory performance, institutional financial exigency,” among other reasons.
New College of Florida
Due to “a renewed focus on ensuring the college is moving towards a more traditional liberal arts institution,” interim president Richard Corcoran denied five professors of tenure on April 26. The school’s board members denied tenure for all five on similar 6-4 votes. One board member was so frustrated after the meeting he resigned from the board quickly after the meeting concluded, according to AP News.
Emporia State University – Kansas
What was originally deemed as a financial decision, Emporia State University is now facing fiery pushback from AAUP for firing at least 30 professors and rationalizing it as a temporary “COVID-related workforce management policy.” AAUP’s statement on the Kansas school was publicly released on May 1.
The AAUP is suspicious about President Ken Hush’s motives. The association found that in the same year he authorized the layoffs, Hush also green-lit $1,000 bonuses to all employees. Additionally, the fiscal 2022 budget included $10 million in one-time federal pandemic aid money, which is specifically authorized to support all essential institutional costs.