AAUP Censures University System of Georgia

By Gregory F. Scholtz

On March 5, the AAUP’s governing Council, the body that now has the authority to impose Association sanction and censure, voted unanimously to add the University System of Georgia (USG) to the AAUP’s list of censured administrations. The vote came on the recommendation of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

In October 2021, the USG Board of Regents, at the urging of the system administration, adopted revisions to the system’s faculty evaluation policies. The most substantive change effectively abolished tenure for the nearly six thousand tenured faculty members at the twenty-five tenure-granting institutions in the system. It did so by depriving faculty members dismissed because of an unfavorable post-tenure review of the right to a dismissal proceeding—a faculty hearing in which the burden of proving adequacy of cause for dismissal rests with the administration. Since the AAUP defines tenure as an indefinite appointment terminable only for cause as demonstrated in such a proceeding, tenured faculty members in the USG undergoing post-tenure review no longer have tenure as it is commonly understood.

The staff report on the case, issued in December, found that the USG board and administration’s denial of “academic due process to tenured faculty members dismissed through post-tenure review” undermined academic freedom in “flagrant violation of the joint 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.” Committee A, in a brief statement recommending censure, echoed the report in emphasizing “the magnitude and singularity of this attack on tenure and academic freedom,” which confers on the University System of Georgia “the dubious distinction of being the only system of public higher education to take such a radical action in nearly fifty years.”