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AAUP Tenure Report Sets Stage for Georgia System Censure

December 9, 2021
 
 

The American Association of University Professors on Tuesday published an investigative report on controversial changes to the University System of Georgia’s posttenure review policy. As expected, based on the AAUP’s prior opposition to the changes, the association found that the new policy “effectively abolishes tenure in Georgia’s public colleges and universities by allowing a system institution to dismiss a tenured professor without affording a hearing before a faculty body in which the administration demonstrates cause for dismissal. Without this academic due process, tenure does not exist.”

The report also accuses the university system violating AAUP’s widely followed standards of academic governance, bringing the system closer to possible censure by the AAUP for alleged violations of academic freedom and tenure. Under the AAUP’s standards, the system’s faculty members “should have played a primary role in developing any changes to the system’s post-tenure review policy,” the association found. “Instead, the USG administration and governing board pushed through and imposed a new faculty evaluation policy without meaningfully involving faculty and over strong objections voiced by the system’s critical faculty governance bodies.”

Teresa MacCartney, acting chancellor of the University System of Georgia, wrote to the AAUP about its findings, saying, “I wholly and strongly disagree with the report’s conclusions.” Due process “will be afforded to any faculty member who is unsuccessful in their post-tenure review,” MacCartney continued. The AAUP “outlines specific components of ‘academic due process,’ but there are common elements to due process not unique to higher education: Notice and opportunity to be heard, both of which will be thoroughly honored in USG’s procedures. Faculty members will repeatedly be given notice of deficiencies in their performance over the course of years and will be given numerous opportunities to improve performance as well as respond to evaluations by both faculty peers and administrators, as well as the right to appeal any adverse action.”

Regarding MacCartney’s argument that tenure lives on, the AAUP says that she disregarded “the generally accepted definition of academic tenure, which cannot be separated from academic due process.”

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