88th LegislatureEducationIssuesState SenateStatewide NewsSenate Priority Bill to End Public University Tenure Hears Testimony in Higher Education Committee

Both supporters and opponents voiced concerns over the end of college tenure, citing academic freedom, censorship, and the retention of professors in Texas.
March 30, 2023
A bill that would end tenure for professors at public universities in Texas was heard in a Senate committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill (SB) 18, proposed by Sen. Brandon Creighton, is one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s 30 priority pieces of legislation.

Academic tenure is a coveted position for college professors, as it essentially gives them a permanent position for life at the university.  A tenured professor is rarely fired, and even then only in the most extreme cases of violation of institutional policies, immoral conduct, or failing to uphold publishing requirements.

At The Texan’s 88th Session Kickoff event in January, Patrick voiced his support for the bill and raised concerns about the ideological creep into many parts of public universities’ curricula.

“Getting all these professors who don’t like America, who don’t like Texas, who don’t like capitalism, who are trying to pollute the minds of young people going to college … I would like to see them go to another state; that would be a success,” Patrick said.

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Patrick also mentioned his social media back-and-forth with the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, which claimed that without tenure, fewer professors would be interested in teaching in Texas.

“[I]f they are the type of professors we are going to attract, I don’t want to attract them,” Patrick countered. “There will be plenty of conservative professors who want to come here.”

The opposition voices at the public testimony over Creighton’s bill echoed UT’s concerns.

Many professors testified that if the bill passed, academic freedom would be at risk, recruitment of professors would suffer, and current professors would leave for other universities that do offer tenure.

A tenure-track professor from Sam Houston State University spoke in opposition, stating that if Texas ends tenure, then it would be unable to attract and retain faculty and students.

Andrea Gore, a tenured pharmacy professor from UT Austin, said ending tenure would have “catastrophic” consequences. She has written publicly about her opposition to this bill and claimed that tenure allows for long-term scientific research to take place.

Brian Evans of the American Association of University Professors at UT Austin also spoke in opposition, expressing concerns about how to pay professors to stay in Texas without tenure and stating that tenure protects professors of all viewpoints.

Supporters of the bill, like Tom Lindsay of Texas Public Policy Foundation, testified that tenured employees at universities lack accountability and that it’s “virtually impossible” to lose tenure.

Lindsay also brought attention to a 2015 incident where the dean of Texas Tech University was caught improperly changing grades of students and resigned as dean, but remained on staff as a tenured professor.

“Which of our taxpayers want to pay for that?” Lindsay asked.

Adam Kissel, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argued in support of the bill, citing concerns over self-censorship of young professors seeking a tenure position, the lack of quality control on research by tenured faculty, and that tenure can cause a lack in innovation.

The bill has been held in committee following the hearing and can be brought up to be voted on in future meetings.


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Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.