At its meeting today, the governing Council of the AAUP voted to censure the University System of Georgia (USG) for the unilateral action of its administration and governing board to remove the protections of tenure and academic freedom from the system’s post-tenure review policy.
Last October the USG board of regents adopted changes to the system’s post-tenure review policy that make it possible to fire tenured faculty members without affording them a dismissal hearing. The move was condemned by the AAUP for effectively abolishing tenure in Georgia’s public colleges and universities in flagrant violation of long established principles of academic freedom and tenure that have been endorsed by more than 250 higher education organizations.
The principal purpose of tenure is to safeguard academic freedom, which is necessary for all who teach and conduct research in higher education. When faculty members can lose their positions because of their speech, publications, or research findings, they cannot properly fulfill their core responsibilities to advance and transmit knowledge. In service of the common good, tenure allows faculty members to pursue research and innovation and to draw evidence-based conclusions free from corporate, religious, or political pressure.
The AAUP released a report in December emphasizing the magnitude and singularity of the USG’s attack on tenure and academic freedom, which affects more than 5,800 tenured faculty members in twenty-five colleges and universities and confers on the University System of Georgia the dubious distinction of being the only system of public higher education to take such a radical action in nearly fifty years.
In censuring USG, the Council acted on the recommendation of the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
We call upon the USG regents to rescind the changes to the post-tenure review policy so that essential academic freedom is protected.