Academic Freedom and Tenure: Husson University


Published in the May-June 1987 issue of Academe.

The report of the investigating committee is concerned with the action taken by the administration of Husson College (now University) to terminate the services of a professor in his sixth year of full-time service at the college following five years of credited prior service elsewhere. The professor, who had held a concurrent appointment as a division head and had clashed repeatedly with the president over issues of academic and administrative policy, alleged that considerations violative of his academic freedom had contributed significantly to the ad- ministration's decision. The administration stated that its action was necessitated by financial difficulties and the resulting need to eliminate a faculty position in the professor's department. Before the professor's appointment expired, the unexpected departure of a senior colleague created a vacancy in the department which, the investigating committee found, the professor was fully qualified to fill. The administration did not offer the position to him, however, but instead advertised for and recruited a new appointee.

The investigating committee concluded that the affected professor had served beyond the maximum probationary period permitted under the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and was accordingly entitled to, but did not receive, the procedural protections associated with tenure when the administration moved to terminate his services. The Husson College policies on tenure, the investigating committee concluded, depart fundamentally from the 1940 Statement of Principles in failing to set a maximum period for probationary service.

The investigating committee further concluded that the administration, viewing the professor as a probationary faculty member and faced with his allegation that his services were being terminated for reasons violative of academic freedom, did not provide him with the procedural protections to which probationary faculty members are entitled under the Association's Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

The investigating committee concluded, finally, that strong prima facie evidence exists that the administration declined to retain the professor in a faculty position because of expressed disagreements with the administration that a college faculty member should be free to voice.

Committee A recommended to the Seventy-Third Annual Meeting that Husson College be placed on the Association's list of Censured Administrations.