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Academic Freedom and Tenure

Incentives to Forgo Tenure

Tenure is "indispensable to the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society." So declares the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The academic community, however, has never lacked for proposals that would undermine tenure and thus its role in serving students and society. Among such current proposals, one in particular requires comment because it has surfaced in recent cases considered by Committee A.1  It proposes that prospective faculty members accept renewable term appointments and forgo consideration for tenure and/or that current faculty members renounce tenure in return for some advantage, such as a higher salary, accelerated leave, or other pecuniary consideration. Proponents of these agreements argue that they embody a free exchange of mutual benefit to the parties. If academic tenure withers in consequence, they claim, that only demonstrates that, in a free market, faculty will have demonstrated their unwillingness to support tenure.

Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance Violations at NEIU

An AAUP investigating committee’s report published in December deals with a case of tenure denial at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. The candidate, an assistant professor of linguistics, had been recommended for tenure successively during the 2011–12 academic year by his tenured linguistics colleagues, his department chair, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and, unanimously, the faculty’s elected University Personnel Committee.

Investigative Procedures in Academic Freedom and Tenure Cases

Nothing can trump the hundred-year-old story of the Association’s first investigation: its hero, AAUP founder Arthur O. Lovejoy of Johns Hopkins University, was arriving in New York in April 1915 to see plays when he read in a local newspaper that the administration of Utah’s state university had dismissed some faculty, that seventeen members of the university had resigned in protest, and that a Utah newspaper editorial had called on the AAUP, then only three months old, to look into the matter.

In Response to Ellen Schrecker’s “Ward Churchill at the Dalton Trumbo Fountain”: An Introduction to the Colorado Conference of the AAUP’s Report on the Termination of Ward Churchill

Prominently featured in the inaugural issue of the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom (JAF) was an article by historian cum AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure member Ellen Schrecker titled “Ward Churchill at the Dalton Trumbo Fountain,” purportedly using my much-publicized case at the University of Colorado, Boulder (UCB) as a means of illuminating the more generalized repression of critical scholarship in the United States since September 2001. Having received a heads-up that the article would be appearing, I must admit that I’d been awaiting its publication with considerable eagerness. This was so, both because I hoped its release might reflect a change for the better in my theretofore negative experience with the AAUP’s national office, and because I held—in fact, still hold—Schrecker’s work concerning the impact of McCarthyism on the academy in highest esteem.She of all people, I imagined, couldbe relied upon not only to recount what had transpired at UCB in a fair and accurate manner but to properly contextualize it.

Rethinking Academic Traditions for Twenty-First-Century Faculty

The American Association of University Professors’ 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, defined the essential features of the academic profession in the early twentieth century: academic freedom, shared governance, and job security. Now, seventy years later, the number of faculty members in the United States has grown from approximately 147,000 in 1940 to approximately 1,140,000 today, and colleges and universities now number 4,168—more than double the 1,708 in the 1940s (Gappa, Austin, and Trice, 2007, p.60.) While important traditions of the academic profession have been retained, faculty members themselves, their work, and their institutions have changed dramatically. Today’s faculty members are diverse; they occupy different types of appointments; and their expectations about their work environments include new concerns, such as sufficient flexibility to manage both their work and life responsibilities. Their colleges and universities also face difficult challenges. They must create environments that attract highly diverse students, find new sources of revenue as traditional sources decline, maintain and enhance their technological infrastructures within budgetary constraints, and respond to numerous demands for accountability imposed by the public.


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