University of Georgia System under Investigation

The AAUP will conduct an investigation of the University of Georgia System after its board of regents voted to adopt a post-tenure review policy that makes it possible to fire a tenured faculty member without a dismissal hearing. In a statement issued hours prior to the board vote, AAUP president Irene Mulvey characterized the board’s potential action as “an attack on tenure and academic freedom” and warned that, if the board acted to decouple tenure protections from post-tenure review, the AAUP would investigate.

The purpose of tenure is to protect the academic freedom indispensable for the quality of teaching and research in higher education. In order to ensure that dismissals are not based on considerations that violate academic freedom, most colleges and universities require their administrations to demonstrate adequate cause before a faculty hearing body prior to dismissing a tenured faculty member. The regulations of the University System of Georgia incorporate such a process, but the newly adopted USG post-tenure review policy unlinks it from post-tenure review, thereby undermining tenure and the academic freedom it safeguards. The new USG policy creates what the AAUP warned against twenty-two years ago 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).”

Staff in the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance will conduct the inquiry and prepare a report for the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. With the approval of that committee, staff will send a draft text to the principal parties for comment and correction of fact before preparing a final text for publication. Committee A formulates recommendations on censure based on the findings in the final investigative reports. Those recommendations go to the AAUP’s governing Council, the body that now votes on whether to add an institution to the Association’s list of censured administrations.

Following the announcement of the investigation, the AAUP and the USG acting chancellor exchanged letters. The chancellor's letters indicate an inability or unwillingness to recognize the enormity of the regents' action despite the AAUP's repeated attempts at clarification.

Read the AAUP's October 25 letter to Acting Chancellor MacCartney.

Read the AAUP's November 5 letter to Acting Chancellor MacCartney.

For more about AAUP censure, see

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, October 26, 2021