Legislation in two states seeks to end tenure at public institutions.

Missouri Representative Rick Brattin Lawmakers in two states this week introduced legislation that would eliminate tenure for public college and university professors. A bill in Missouri would end tenure for all new faculty hires starting in 2018 and require more student access to information about the job market for majors. Legislation in Iowa would end tenure even for those who already have it. The bills, along with the recent gutting of tenure in Wisconsin and other events, have some worrying about a trend. “These are serious attempts to undermine universities and the role of universities in society,” said Hans-Joerg Tiede, senior program officer for academic freedom, tenure and shared governance at the American Association of University Professors. “If they’re not directly coordinated, there’s a strong current going through all of them.” Two anti-tenure bills the same day prolly not a coincidence. Academic freedom in public institutions under assault this legislative session — Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) January 12, 2017 No New Tenure in Missouri “If you’re doing the right thing as a professor and teaching students to the best of your ability, why do you need tenure?” asked Representative Rick Brattin, a Missouri Republican who wrote HB 266. The bill says that “no public institution of higher education in this state shall award tenure” to anyone hired after 2017. It also would require colleges and universities to post on their websites or in course catalogs information about degree programs including “the current job market for people who have earned the degree” and employment data for the most recent graduating class. “What other job in the U.S. has protections like that?” Brattin said of tenure. “If you looked around, you’d come up short.” Asked about academic freedom and protection for researchers engaged in a variety of controversial fields, Brattin said that universities would be “ludicrous to get rid of” someone working at the “cutting edge” of a discipline. Yet too often, he said, tenure is used to protect those professors who have “lost their edge.” He said he wasn’t sure what, if anything, should replace tenure, such as rolling or long-term contracts. Brattin cited the case of Melissa Click, a former assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Missouri at Columbia who asked for "muscle" to remove a student journalist from a campus protest in 2015, as an example of how difficult it is to fire professors accused of acting unprofessionally. Reminded that Click did not have tenure and was eventually terminated, he said, “Anyone else in any other sort of setting would have not been at work the next day. But in the academic world, you can get away with literally anything and taxpayers are paying their salaries -- not to mention students being burdened with millions and millions and...

Read the full article here