- Tenured faculty in the State University System of Florida will have to undergo job performance reviews every five years under a new policy its governing board approved Wednesday.
- The new rules impose what’s known as a post-tenure review, which will evaluate tenured faculty on their “level of accomplishment and productivity.” Tenured faculty deemed unsatisfactory in their job performance could be immediately fired.
- The board’s move spurned faculty critics who argued it in essence dismantles tenure, traditionally a lifelong appointment they say is needed to protect their scholarship — even if unpopular — from political influence.
Across the U.S., lawmakers — mostly Republican — have taken aim at tenure, claiming it enables poorly performing faculty to hang onto their jobs without fear of reprisal. States like Texas and North Dakota have proposed bills that would heavily restrict tenure.
The Florida system’s new tenure policy also stems from state legislation enacted last year that greenlit post-tenure reviews.
Under the new policy, tenured faculty will be assigned one of four rankings during their post-tenure reviews: exceeds expectations, meets expectations, does not meet expectations, or unsatisfactory.
Instructors who earn a “does not meet expectations” designation would be placed on a performance plan, and then fired if they do not improve. Those with an “unsatisfactory” ranking would be terminated right away.
Florida system universities will also not be able to make collective bargaining agreements that conflict with the policy.
United Faculty of Florida, the union representing a significant contingent of faculty in the state system, continued to fight against the policy leading up to its approval Wednesday.
Andrew Gothard, president of UFF, said in a statement before the board’s vote that the revised rules would impede the system’s ability to attract faculty and make it less competitive with colleges from other states.
“Tenure and academic freedom are vital to a thriving university system, one where the public good and the advancement of human knowledge are prioritized over political convenience,” Gothard said.