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AAUP President Warns of Investigation, Potential Censure, if Tenure is Gutted in the University System of Georgia

Statement from AAUP president Irene Mulvey on the Georgia Board of Regents Attacks on Tenure and Academic Freedom

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is nearing a vote on changes to the system’s post-tenure review policy. As the AAUP emphasized in a September 24 letter to the Georgia AAUP conference, if the board votes to approve the proposed changes, tenure and the academic freedom it is designed to protect will be severely compromised at the twenty-five tenure-granting colleges and universities in the system. Given the severity and scope of this potential attack on tenure and academic freedom, our executive director will authorize an investigation if the board votes to adopt these changes. In 1974 the AAUP took similar action, investigating and censuring the governing board of the Virginia Community College System for abolishing tenure.

The principal purpose of tenure is to safeguard academic freedom, which is indispensable for the quality of teaching and research in higher education. 

In service of the common good, tenure allows faculty members to pursue research and innovation and to draw evidence-based conclusions free from corporate, religious, or political pressure. The USG board-proposed policy unlinks a procedure for academic due process from post-tenure review, thereby undermining tenure and academic freedom. At reputable institutions of higher education, academic freedom is protected because tenured professors can be dismissed only for reasons related to professional fitness and only after a hearing before a faculty body at which the administration must make its case that the faculty member's conduct or performance warrants dismissal. If passed, the USG board-approved policy undermines academic freedom by putting into place exactly what the AAUP warned against in Post-Tenure Review: An AAUP Response - a system that will “shift the burden of proof from an institution’s administration (to show cause for dismissal) to the individual faculty member (to show cause why he or she should be retained).”

 

 

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, October 13, 2021