Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, on Tuesday signed SB 7044, which establishes a new posttenure, five-year review cycle for professors at public institutions. “It’s all about trying to make these institutions more in line with what the state’s priorities are, and quite frankly of the priorities of parents throughout the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a bill-signing event, according to Florida Politics. The bill passed 77 to 40 in the Florida House of Representatives and 22 to 15 in the Florida Senate.
The State University System of Florida’s Board of Governors will oversee the new process, which must legally include a review of “accomplishments and productivity; assigned duties in research, teaching and service; performance metrics, evaluations and ratings; and recognition and compensation considerations, as well as improvement plans and consequences for underperformance.” The new law, which also requires colleges and universities to post “prominently” a searchable list of instructional materials for at least 95 percent of all courses, and includes major changes to how accreditation works, takes effect in July.
Andrew Gothard, president of Florida’s statewide faculty union, the United Faculty of Florida, said in a statement Tuesday that DeSantis “enjoys touting the top-ranked quality of our state’s higher education system, while simultaneously failing to recognize that Florida’s higher education faculty are the reason for that ranking.” All Florida faculty members already undergo an “extensive performance review process, tenured or otherwise; they are already held accountable by their peers and employers,” Gothard added. “The only missing piece in that equation is that tenured faculty cannot be fired for political reasons, meaning the passing whims of the latest politician in power cannot be used to harm the future of Florida’s students and institutions.”