The University System of Georgia Board of Regents Wednesday approved controversial changes in tenure policies at 25 of the system’s 26 colleges and universities despite opposition from many professors.
The changes will replace a tenure system that allows professors to be fired only for a specific cause following a thorough peer review process with a new system that permits professors to be dismissed if they fail to take corrective steps following two consecutive subpar reviews.
The changes in post-tenure review, which will apply to all system schools except Georgia Gwinnett College, stem from a working group formed in September of last year that reviewed the current policy and submitted recommendations to the regents in June.
“The goal of the changes they recommended is to support career development for all faculty as well as ensure accountability and continued strong performance from faculty members after they have achieved tenure,” the regents wrote in a prepared statement.
A key change in the new policy adds student success as a category to be evaluated along with teaching and research.
“Student success remains a top priority for the university system,” the regents wrote. “This process intends to strengthen that commitment among faculty throughout their career while also recognizing how faculty already deepen student learning and engagement through activities both inside and outside the classroom.”
But representatives of the system’s faculty warn the new tenure policy will make it easier to dismiss professors without due process. A report released by the working group found that 96% of professors who go through the tenure review process receive positive reviews.
Matthew Boedy, president of the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors, said the policy appears aimed at research professors.
“The board thinks these people aren’t doing enough,” said Boedy, an associate professor at the University of North Georgia. “They’re giving us tenure in name only … to suggest that somehow we’re not pulling our weight.”
About 1,500 professors across the university system signed a petition opposing the changes ahead of Wednesday’s vote. The regents approved the changes without discussion.