TACT attended the Senate Higher Education Committee Public Hearing this morning that featured Senate Bills 1159 and 1623 affecting tenure (details).
Senate Bill 1159 would shorten the performance evaluation of a tenured faculty member from six years to four years. The bill further clarifies and restricts reasons for revocation.
Senate Bill 1623 outlines tenure revocation to include the faculty member's initiation of a civil suite against a student enrolled in the institution regardless of if the claim is litigated or dismissed.
TACT sent this response to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
April 14, 2021
RE: Response to Public Hearing of SB 1159 and SB 1623
Dear Chairman and Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee:
Thank you for your attention and public hearing regarding tenure issues within SB 1159 and SB 1623. To us, it felt a bit like belt and suspenders. Processes already exist – particularly the annual reviews - to identify and remediate incompetence or worse to remove people, not tenure, whether they are tenured or not.
The witnesses testified that only the best acquire tenure in the first place, and the professor who declined tenure used academic freedom as his defense. I’m sure you will continue to consult the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) on these freedom issues.
Testimony regarding SB 1623 reminded us that we don’t want to limit any person or group from their First Amendment rights or access to the legal system. Certainly in this complicated world (social media), we need to accelerate dispute resolution systems, not reduce them.
The post-tenure review system is currently working, and we heard that reducing the required period to four years will increase workload without necessarily identifying additional problems.
These are important issues the Committee raised, but we believe the suggested changes are not needed. Thank you for your consideration.
Texas Association of College Teachers
It is important for you to let your voice be heard!
Call the Texas Senate Committee on Higher Education at (512) 463-4788, as well as your Texas legislators provide your opinion on these changes in tenure.