Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why State Lawmakers Must Support Tenure at Public Universities

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.

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