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UT Austin President Defends Tenure

February 22, 2022

Jay Hartzell, president of the University of Texas at Austin, issued a strong defense of tenure Monday. Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick on Friday threatened to end tenure because of his anger over the teaching of critical race theory.

Hartzell said, “Removing tenure would not only cripple Texas’ ability to recruit and retain great faculty members, it would also hurt Texas students, who would not be able to stay in state knowing that they will be learning from the very best in the country. It would also increase the risk of universities across the state making bad decisions for the wrong reasons. Future administrators might make annual retention decisions based on whether they or others did or didn’t like a faculty member’s current research agenda, rather than whether the quality of that research was excellent and held promise to have a positive impact on society in future years.”

He added, “Some might argue that we make an occasional mistake in granting tenure or that tenure leads a few to unproductive behavior, but the ongoing excellence of our faculty suggests that such issues are rare. There are also processes in place to ensure that tenured faculty members contribute to the university and our students. We implemented and maintain an annual review process to help monitor faculty productivity, with required steps to improve unsatisfactory performance. We also conduct a comprehensive review of all tenured faculty members every six years.”

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