Candidates for National AAUP President Express Their Views on
Tenure and Post-Tenure Review
The following items will be found on this page:
Following is an e-mail message sent by Chapter President Thomas E. Moore on February 27, 1998, to the two candidates for national AAUP President:
Dear Prof. Roworth and Prof. Richardson:
As president of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Chapter of AAUP, I request that you send (preferably by e-mail) a statement of your views of the importance of tenure and the effects of post-tenure review to me by next Friday. We will post your comments on our website, and distribute your comments to our members on e-mail, along with this solicitation for your responses. I also offer to make your comments available to our Conference office for their website and potential distribution to members on e-mail throughout the state, if you are willing.
As you are surely well aware, many of us here in Michigan are quite interested in your views on these two preeminent issues. There is very little time before election ballots will be distributed, and many of us feel we have far too little information about your stances on these issues in particular. Thus the short time line requested for response. We very much look forward to your responses, even if largely or entirely repetitions of replies provided elsewhere with regard to these issues and/or this election. -Tom Moore
Following is a statement by AAUP Presidential Candidate James T. Richardson on tenure and post-tenure review:
STATEMENT ON TENURE AND POST-TENURE REVIEW
James T. Richardson, J.D., Ph.D.
Candidate for the Presidency of AAUP
TENURE AND TRADITION
The AAUP has a venerable history of both developing and vigorously defending concepts that have made American higher education the envy of the world. It is no accident that people from all over the world want to come to America to seek higher education. The relationship between the concepts of academic freedom, tenure, and faculty governance and the quality of American higher education is accidental. We have a strong system of quality higher education in America because of how we have built that system, with the AAUP playing a major role in the way higher education has been defined in this country.
Academic freedom is the cornerstone. Faculty members must be free to research topics of their choosing, and they must be allowed to teach those topics in an open and unfettered way. Faculty members also have a right to speak publicly without fear of reprisal. Only when academic freedom is protected is there a genuine accumulation of knowledge necessary for a free society. Citizens can make informed decisions only if they are allowed access to relevant knowledge. Academic freedom protects that precious knowledge and makes it available to inform the citizenry. Academic freedom must be protected!
Tenure is the best defender of academic freedom. AAUP has stood for decades behind the concept that faculty cannot be penalized for saying unpopular things as they practice their disciplinary craft in scholarly writings, teaching, and in civic participation. The importance of the 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure to the quality of American higher education cannot be overestimated. We also need to guarantee that faculty are treated fairly in all in personnel matters, and that the academic freedom protection provided by tenure not be undermined by arbitrary dismissal procedures. Administrators, trustees, politicians, and the general public all need to be reminded that the principles of the 1940 statement are the basis of American higher education.
We need only look at other countries' approach to higher education to be reminded of the value of protecting those who produce and disseminate new knowledge. The Lysenko affair in Russia is a case in point, where biology was stagnant for decades, ruining Russian agriculture, because of requiring a "party line" approach that claimed acquired characteristics in plants and animals could be inherited. Anyone who differed with this foolish idea was summarily dismissed or worse! Such experiences could be multiplied tenfold, and they all drive home the point of the importance of tenure to American higher education and indeed to America itself.
AAUP must continue to be bulwark against attacks on tenure, attacks which are mounting almost daily. We must find creative ways to protect that which is precious to us in academe and to American society, and we must find better ways of communicating to its detractors just how precious the concept of tenure is.
I pledge to make the issue of defending and explaining tenure a top priority if I am elected president of AAUP.
POST-TENURE REVIEW Post-tenure review has been visited upon the academy by external forces over which we seem to have little control. Pressures of all sorts have caused legislators, governors, regents, the media, and trustees, and sometimes even administrators and faculty to promote ideas that would limit the effect of tenure. Some of those limitations, such as the worst forms of so-called "post-tenure review," actually undercut tenure and even make it virtually meaningless.
AAUP must fight these efforts to overcome tenure through the approach of post-tenure review (just as it must also work against efforts to destroy tenure by the hiring of nontenure-track and part-time faculty). We must deal with those attacks in whatever forum they arise, forcefully making the case for tenure, and the contribution that academic freedom and tenure have made to our society.
I have been involved in efforts to fight attacks on tenure in my state and in others, working in my capacity as chair of Committee R (Government Relations) for AAUP. And we of the AAUP have had positive impacts when we were able to mount a concerted effort (Minnesota being a good case in point, but also in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, as well as other states).
The national AAUP has also been involved in such efforts with special committees appointed to deal with the issue of post-tenure review. I applaud these efforts, but take some issue with the product produced so far by that effort. Specifically, as I have said publicly, the document published in Academe recently on post-tenure review has several serious problems. We appear to give too much ground with that statement, and seem to be rolling over for the inevitability of post-tenure review.
I do not agree with that posture, and welcome the changes that have been made to strengthen that official statement already by Committee A. But, more work needs to be done to turn the statement into a primer on how to deal with attacks on tenure and a clearer statement in defense of tenure. We also need to include more suggestions about including safe-guards for due process and faculty involvement in any policies adopted that would undercut faculty tenure rights. We cannot leave this crucial area to administrators or others!
Please support me if you share my views on tenure and on post-tenure review! And please review my web site at: http://unr.edu/homepage/jtr
James T. Richardson, Ph.D., J.D.
Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies
Director, Master of Judicial Studies Program
University of Nevada, Reno Mail Stop 311 Reno, NV 89557
STATEMENT ON TENURE AND POST-TENURE REVIEW
Wendy W. Roworth, Ph.D.
Candidate for the Presidency of AAUP
I appreciate the invitation to express my views on tenure and post-tenure review. All AAUP members have a right to know each candidate's opinions on these vital issues, and I especially welcome the opportunity to explain the intent and current status of the Committee A report, retitled "Post-Tenure Review: An AAUP Response" at our November meeting, since it has raised particular concerns in Michigan.
Let me begin by stating that I believe strongly and unequivocally in the importance and value of faculty tenure, which is why I am an AAUP activist and advocate for tenure. The tenure system plays a crucial role in safeguarding academic freedom and preserving the quality of higher education, especially within today's climate of political conservatism, the widespread ideology of "corporatization," and the misapplication of the business model to academic institutions. Tenure has been under attack by state legislatures, governing boards, the media, and critics who characterize tenured faculty as unproductive "dead wood," claim a need for institutional "flexibility" and faculty "accountability," and ignore the long probationary period and rigorous reviews faculty go through to achieve tenure. In fact, faculty are one of the most frequently evaluated professions (tenure, promotion, sabbaticals, annual reviews, merit reviews, grants, publications, student reviews, etc.), which is why post-tenure review is unnecessary and potentially destructive of collegiality, creativity, and a threat to academic freedom.
I believe the current opposition to tenure must be understood for what it really is: an assault on faculty independence and professionalism and a means to undermine shared governance and short-circuit due process. As a current member of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure I have gained insight into not only individual cases but also a much deeper understanding of the history of tenure and of the problems faculty face, understandings I have been able to apply to the AAUP Task Force on Tenure. This Task Force, for which I was privileged to serve as Chair, also included faculty from Arkansas State U., Indiana U., Kent State U., U. of Illinois-Chicago, California State U.-Los Angeles, and Wayne State University. We examined the reasons behind the public critique of tenure as well as the erosion of tenure through the increasing reliance on part-time and "temporary" adjunct faculty. As a result of our work the Task Force produced _Defending Tenure: A Guide for Friends of Academic Freedom_ to provide faculty with statistics, data, articles, and policies to be able to launch an effective stand in defense of our principles.
The Tenure Task Force noted with particular alarm the growing demands for intrusive and punitive post-tenure reviews ("three strikes and you're out!"), and we knew that the Government Relations staff in the National Office were fielding questions from faculty in Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, and other states where legislative actions mandating post-tenure reviews were under consideration. To address this, we also produced a Report on Periodic Evaluation of Tenured Faculty, in which we underscored that post-tenure review is unnecessary, since we are already frequently reviewed, but noted the need to inform faculty of the potential dangers of "bad" post-tenure review policies that could threaten academic freedom, deny due process, or shift the burden of proof back onto individual tenured faculty. We also addressed the possible benefits of developmental evaluations of tenured faculty when they were accompanied by appropriate institutional funding and safeguards and developed by faculty, such as those currently carried out without harm at the Universities of Wisconsin, Colorado, Rhode Island, New Mexico, and elsewhere.
The Task Force Report was presented to Committee A, and after discussion, Committee A members voted unanimously to accept the Task Force report and to appoint a subcommittee, chaired by Professor Robert Gorman of the U. of Pennsylvania, to draft a more extensive report. The others members of this subcommittee were Larry Poston (U. of Illinois -Chicago), Mary Gray (American U.), Joan Wallach Scott (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), and me (U. of Rhode Island). Our report was intended to reaffirm the principles in the 1983 AAUP statement _On Periodic Evaluation of Tenured Faculty_ (See AAUP Redbook, 1995, p.49), to emphasize the potential risks to academic freedom, and to provide practical guidelines and standards to protect due process, ensure faculty involvement, and emphasize that post-tenure review should never be used as a means to revalidate tenured status. This subcommittee draft was also unanimously approved by Committee A and subsequently by the National Council for publication for comment in _Academe_ (Sept-Oct 1997). Few comments were received (some positive, some negative), but because the report was misread by some as a revision of AAUP principles, when it was, in fact, an attempt to address the practical needs of faculty, Committee A changed the title ("Post-Tenure Review: An AAUP Response"), incorporated the 1983 statement into the body of the text, and shortened it somewhat to reaffirm and highlight the principles on which the guidelines are based. These revisions were sent to the National Council, the Collective Bargaining Congress, and State Conference officers in November for distribution to chapter leaders. Committee A is still open to suggestions and comments.
I understand that some AAUP members think the statement is too long (it may be), dislike the use of the term "post-tenure review" (the usage is further clarified in the revision), and that certain statements might be taken out of context to our detriment, but, as professors we also know that any statement can be quoted out of context, misinterpreted, twisted, or misconstrued. This does not mean that silence is our best defense. Just in the last two months, I have received calls or e-mails from AAUP leaders at the University of Washington, Tulane, University of Nebraska-Omaha, and University of New Hampshire, seeking advice about post-tenure review. These faculty were grateful for the guidelines in the Committee A report that enable them to argue that post-tenure review is unnecessary, costly, time-consuming, brings scant benefit, and is potentially dangerous. However, they also now have information to develop faculty-designed and implemented processes that do not threaten academic freedom or tenure when post-tenure review is imposed by trustees or the state legislature. If the Committee A report on post-tenure review had been available earlier, perhaps the Virginia Tech. Faculty Senate - which participated in the development of post-tenure review procedures that violate AAUP standards - might have avoided making such a bad mistake.
I am passionately committed to academic freedom and the institution of tenure. I also believe that the AAUP must do whatever it can to inform faculty and to empower them. It is time for us to take a more aggressive stance in defense of our AAUP principles, which have helped to make American higher education the envy of the world, and to support each other. We cannot afford internal divisiveness between tenured and untenured faculty, full time and part-time, collective bargaining and non-collective bargaining. The strength of the AAUP is our diversity and shared belief in open discussion and reasoned debate. We must remain unified in our defense of tenure and academic freedom.
Webmaster’s note: The above statements have been reproduced on the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor AAUP Chapter Home Page exactly as they were submitted by the two candidates for the Presidency of the AAUP. This information is presented to help our members with the voting that is now in progress, and the reader should note that at this time our Chapter Executive Committee has endorsed no candidate for national office.