AAUP President Condemns Threat to End Tenure in Texas

By Kelly Hand

AAUP president Irene Mulvey condemned a pledge by Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick to end tenure at Texas public colleges and universities, starting with new hires but also targeting already tenured faculty members. Patrick, who is running for a third term, delivered his threat in a February press conference, using as a pretext a resolution passed by the University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council reaffirming academic freedom in curricular decisions. Perpetuating misconceptions and distortions of critical race theory (CRT), he asserted that he believes in academic freedom with “barriers” or “boundaries” and considers teaching CRT adequate grounds for the dismissal of tenured faculty members.

Patrick’s perspective legitimizes external interference from donors, legislators, politicians, and angry parents who seek to limit what faculty members can say in the classroom and what subjects can be discussed—particularly regarding the history of systemic racism in the United States. This kind of censorship is fundamentally antithetical to academic freedom, which is already bounded by rigorous disciplinary standards. Faculty tenure is the only secure protection for academic freedom in our colleges and universities.