The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 24th, 2015
In the past few weeks, I’ve been in the midst of a debate over tenure for college professors in Wisconsin.
This has implications for public higher education across the country.
I know this as both the chancellor of Wisconsin’s flagship campus, in
Madison, and as an economist who has helped shape national policy.
Two key points have been misunderstood. First, the University of
Wisconsin hasn’t abolished tenure. Rather, we’re becoming like virtually
every other state university, with tenure enshrined in
university-system policy rather than state statute. At Madison, I’m
committed to keeping academic freedom as robust as it’s always been.
We are strongly urging legislators to change the proposal that
ignited this debate. It created the impression that faculty members
could be laid off when minor program changes occur. We are asking that
this legislative language be removed or brought in line with guidelines
from the American Association of University Professors, which allow the
removal of tenure when there is just cause, financial emergency, or
program discontinuance for educational reasons.