Academic Freedom and Tenure: Concordia Seminary

Published in the spring 1975 issue of Academe.

Despite the recommendations of his colleagues and inadequate notice of the termination of his services, the administration of Concordia Seminary terminated a faculty member. His request for a statement of the reasons for the action against him was not honored. Ecclesiastical authorities external to the academic structure of the Seminary participated actively, in departure from previous practice, in evaluating the professor's candidacy for retention, and these authorities eventually determined that he not be retained. This decision to terminate his services was manifestly based on displeasure with his views on matters that fell within his academic competence and therefore on considerations violative of his academic freedom, which was not subject to specific limitation under the terms of his initial appointment to the faculty of Concordia Seminary.

Subsequent revisions in the stated policies and procedures reflect some improvements in procedure, but the revised regulations are still deficient. Particularly troublesome is a new statement placing limitations on academic freedom and reinforced provisions allowing external ecclesiastical authorities to control academic decisions at Concordia Seminary.