AAUP Urges North Dakota Legislature to Abandon Effort to End Tenure

Today the AAUP submitted testimony in opposition of H.B. 1446, a proposed bill in the North Dakota state legislature that would effectively end tenure at two higher education institutions in the state and could possibly be extended to all public colleges and universities in the state. This bill establishes a dangerous precedent that threatens academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance and further entrenches the politicization of higher education.

If passed in its current form, H.B. 1446 would place limitations on tenured faculty’s speech including the ability to criticize the institution in public. The bill would give the presidents of the institutions the power to fire faculty unilaterally without giving them any due process or the ability to sue  in the courts. These proposed new laws contradict the AAUP’s long-established principles and standards  on academic freedom and tenure, which have been widely adopted in American higher education..

In submitted testimony, AAUP president Irene Mulvey said, “Since we believe that academic freedom and the benefits it brings to society require the protections of tenure, we would view the eradication of tenure in all or some of North Dakota’s public colleges and universities as a fatal blow to academic freedom, with unfortunate consequences for the quality of teaching and research in those institutions, their reputation and competitiveness, their contributions to the state’s economy, and their ability to cultivate an educated citizenry.”

The North Dakota bill is unfortunately another example of elected state officials taking a hostile stance toward higher education that undermines freedom and democracy. The AAUP will continue to stand with faculty and students in resisting political interference in higher education.  

The AAUP submitted public testimony in advance of a February 3 hearing on the bill in the North Dakota legislature. The full testimony is available here.

Publication Date: 
Thursday, February 2, 2023