- More than half of polled University System of Georgia faculty say recent changes in USG tenure policies affect their desire to remain as professors there, a new survey reveals.
- The survey of 972 faculty members across USG’s 26 institutions comes from the Georgia conference of the American Association of University Professors, which has railed against new tenure rules the governing board approved last year. The organization has objected to provisions such as allowing institutions to dismiss poor-performing tenured professors without an adjudicative hearing before a faculty panel. Almost 94% of faculty said the board of regents should reinstate the right to a peer-led hearing.
- Survey respondents also indicated the policy changes have impacted morale. A system spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the survey results Monday.
AAUP has fought against the shifts in tenure policy since they were proposed, arguing they undermine academic freedom. The faculty group in March censured the system over the new restrictions, a marker meant to denote that an institution does not promote free inquiry.
USG’s new policies permit faculty to be fired if they display unsatisfactory performances and then fail to meet benchmarks in their improvement plans.
Tenure broadly has been under fire in some areas of the U.S., with critics saying it provides professors protections that are too broad, enabling even underachieving faculty to keep their jobs without fear of reprisal.
Earlier this year, the lieutenant governor of Texas, Republican Dan Patrick, promised to blow up tenure in the state’s public colleges and revoke it for professors who teach critical race theory, a decades-old academic framework that in part teaches racism is systemic. Conservatives have latched onto critical race theory to advance their agenda, presenting it as sowing division in the country.
On Sunday, the Georgia AAUP again called for the regents board to reverse the tenure policy changes. The regents are to meet this week.
More than 68% of AAUP survey respondents said the reworked policies “negatively affect their recommendation” to a graduate student or faculty member seeking a job with the system.
Almost 29% of professors surveyed said they knew of “direct effects” on faculty searches at their respective institutions. More than 44% reported it was too early to know the consequences of the changes on faculty searches.
And more than three-quarters of respondents said the policies would have some impact on their jobs.
The survey was distributed online from Sept. 21 to Oct. 5. More than 69% of respondents have tenure. USG employs about 11,800 full-time faculty, according to the most recently available system data.