AUSTIN (KXAN) — After the University of Texas at Austin released its latest promotions and tenure tracks for its faculty members, the university’s president explained why the process is important and needs to be preserved.
In a letter to UT faculty members highlighting accomplishments of those who were granted tenure or promoted, Jay Hartzell dug in about why tenure shouldn’t be messed with.
“We all aspire to improve the educational system in the United States, but tenure is important to Texas universities, and removing it will not help,” he said in the letter. “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.”
Hartzell also said that tenure at public universities like UT is made possible because of state legislation.
“We respect and appreciate the Legislature and our state’s leadership, and we look forward to continuing to participate in the legislative process,” Hartzell said.
The comments come after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said last week he’s in favor of revoking tenure from professors who teach critical race theory at public universities in Texas. Patrick also said he’d eliminate newly-hired professors from tenure-track status if they chose to teach it. Patrick said he supports potential legislation that would deal with that, but it wouldn’t be ready until the 2023 Legislative session.
Texas lawmakers passed bills that restrict how critical race theory is taught in K-12 classrooms during the 2021 session.
“We are those who distribute taxpayer dollars. We are the ones who pay their salaries. The parents are the ones who pay tuition,” Patrick said in a press conference. “Of course, we’re going to have a say.”
UT’s Faculty Council passed a nonbinding resolution that, “rejects any attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate the content of university curriculum on any matter, including matters related to racial and social justice.”
UT faculty members are also upset with Patrick after he said the reason the Liberty Institute was created was to, “not let looney Marxist UT professors poison the minds of young students with critical race theory.”
While Hartzell’s letter about tenure and promotions was more about celebrating the achievements of professors who put in the work to earn such status and not a direct rebuttal to what Patrick said, he did address what could happen if tenure were removed.
“It would also increase the risk of universities across the state making bad decisions for the wrong reasons,” Hartzell said of removing tenure.