Georgia’s university system takes on tenure

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Georgia’s university system takes on tenure

In a direct challenge to the sacred tradition of tenure, Georgia’s public university system will now let the administration of its colleges remove a working professor with little or no faculty input.

According to the American Association of University Professors, the Board of Regents on Wednesday approved the new policy, which is the only one of its kind in the country. The move is being criticized by many professors, politicians and advocates as a threat to academic freedom for tenure, intended to protect faculty from dismissal without cause, allowing them to develop such ideas or views. Allows for what may be unpopular.

“Georgia is huge now, because that’s the whole point of the term: It includes due process security,” said Professors Association president Irene Mulvey. threatened to condemn university system. “There should now be a new term for it in Georgia, because tenure will not mean tenure there.”

The Board of Regents has said the policy change will streamline the process of removing faculty members who do not contribute substantially to the university, and the 19-member board unanimously approved the new measure on Wednesday. In the fall of 2020, there were more than 5,800 working faculty across the entire Georgia university system.

“Our intention with these policy changes is to promote faculty development and accountability, as well as align with our mission of student success,” Erin Hyams, a board member, said on Tuesday.

Previously, the process of removing working professors involved a peer review process with other faculty. Now, professors at 25 of its 26 public universities Can be removed after two consecutive annual reviews fail. If a professor also fails to complete the improvement plan after the reviews, that alone will justify the dismissal. The new policy also includes an additional benchmark – student success – in evaluating the performance of a working professor.

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The new policy is the result of months of back-and-forth between professors and the state university system’s governing body, the Board of Regents, as it announced last year that it would set up a working group to review post-term reviews . Process.

In a report published by the Working Group in June, the group cited several shortcomings in the current process, including time concerns, difficult documentation, and “the way too many underperforming faculty members are identified and treated.”

The report also stated that there was a “need for accountability” with the tenure process and that in its form at the time, the Board of Regents had difficulty “overseeing”.

Last month, the board published a draft policy that included a clause that said a tenured professor could be removed for reasons “other than just”, which raised concerns for the approval of its final policy.

While that language is no longer in accepted policy, critics worry that the changes could erode the academic freedom of professors who publish research or speak in a way that is consistent with the beliefs of the board, or the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp. go against.

“Faculty voices are being heard less and less now,” said Matthew Boedy, a tenured associate professor of rhetoric and composition at the University of North Georgia, a public university, and president of the Georgia Conference of University Professors Association.

He considered the decision a “deeply ideological attack on higher education”, adding that “everyone involved in higher education will recognize the title that tenure died in Georgia today.”

Others are concerned that the new changes will affect the state’s ability to recruit and retain teachers and students at public universities, which include Georgia Tech, one of the nation’s top public research institutions.

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“People wouldn’t want to go to a place where something like this happened,” Ms. Mulvey said. “So this decision will result in loss to the students and teachers.”

Till Tuesday, over 1,500 professors in the state had signed a petition against the new policy. Former Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams, also publicly disapproved of the measure hours before the meeting was postponed.

“Academic freedom guaranteed is more than a job gimmick given by tenure,” Ms. Abrams tweeted on Wednesday. “Georgia cannot compete for talent or produce innovation if we undermine our public universities.”

The decision comes at a time when the state leadership is facing pushback from some faculty members for banning the mask mandate in educational institutions. The board stood by the ban.

“We remain in line with the governor’s expectations and requirements for state agencies through this pandemic,” said Teresa McCartney, the university system’s acting chancellor.

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