Free Speech on Campus and Academic Freedom Under Attack in Arkansas

The state of Arkansas is facing an existential threat to academic freedom.

That threat, however, is of a type that normally doesn’t receive public attention. The press typically writes about speech codes and political interference with research on controversial subjects, but as serious as those threats are, they are nothing compared to that posed by central administrators.

In our state, lawyers working for the University of Arkansas are rewriting the rules governing tenure in ways that fatally undermine academic freedom.

The purpose of academic freedom is to protect freedom of speech, thought, and expression in the university setting so that learning and knowledge can flourish. Tenure is the primary mechanism by which academic freedom is ensured. It prohibits the termination of faculty for any reason that could plausibly be used to stifle academic speech and inquiry. These protections recognize the critical role of professors as truth-finders and truth-tellers.

Tenure and academic freedom have been bedrock principles in higher education for a century.

Unfortunately, in recent decades some university administrators have engaged in an all-out assault on academic freedom by seeking to (1) replace outspoken full-time faculty with part-time adjuncts, and (2) gut the rules governing academic freedom and tenure.

Adjunct professors have virtually no job protections. Indeed, rather than serving as employees of the schools where they work, they are independent contractors hired to teach a specific course or courses. Because of this, adjuncts are far less likely to engage with controversial subjects. And they virtually never speak out publicly or even internally about issues of university governance. After all, a single comment disapproved of by college administrators can cost adjunct faculty their jobs—and we have seen it happen.

The second type of attack is rule changes. Some administrators are pushing for definitions of tenure that provide no assurance that dismissal will be limited to causes unrelated to the content of a professor’s research, teaching, or public service.

The assault on academic freedom in Arkansas is of this latter variety, and it is being directed by the in-house attorneys for the University of Arkansas. They have circulated a proposal—drafted without any input from faculty—that would eviscerate tenure and academic freedom in this state.

Consider three of the most problematic changes they recommend.

First, under the proposal, a lack of “collegiality” is a standalone basis for termination. The policy states that failing to “work cooperatively with others” justifies instantaneous dismissal. This means that uncollegial behavior would be one of several emergency-type grounds for immediately firing professors. It places such behavior on the same plane as “threats or acts of violence.”

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has long rejected collegiality requirements in tenure determinations of any type, including decisions to grant tenure or to terminate a teacher, because such requirements have a documented history of abuse in academe.

Second, under the proposal, a single unsatisfactory annual evaluation by a single administrator is sufficient for dismissal, if the administrator determines that the faculty member is not being sufficiently “cooperative” in trying to remedy the “unsatisfactory” performance. So, again, the University’s Counsel—who, it so happens, is the chief prosecutor in faculty dismissal proceedings—wants to leverage “cooperation” as a tool to eject tenured professors.

The upshot of this change is striking: if a faculty member resists a single negative review, appeals that decision internally, or objects to colleagues or administrators about that review, he can be fired for lack of “cooperation.”

This incredible danger to the very foundations of the academic enterprise reveals why the AAUP has made it clear that using “unsatisfactory” as a standard is not sufficient to protect academic freedom. The word is highly subjective, making it prone to manipulation by administrators displeased with any aspect of a faculty member’s work, including dissent regarding school operations.

A professor could be fired merely for commenting publicly or internally about a school’s alleged financial improprieties or admission practices.

Third, under the current rules, comprehensive free speech rights for faculty aptly extend to all subjects. Under this proposal, however, such rights encompass only teaching and research—eliminating protections for speech associated with public and university service. This means, for example, that a professor could be fired merely for commenting publicly or internally about a school’s alleged financial improprieties or admission practices.

The proposal constitutes a major constriction of academic freedom. If adopted, what impact would it have?

First, faculty recruitment and retention will be severely damaged. When candidates ask about tenure and academic freedom in Arkansas, hiring officials will be legally and morally obligated to explain to them that their tenure rights are heavily circumscribed in comparison to those at other colleges. And faculty currently working for the university will be more likely to leave, causing a brain drain, as other schools have experienced in similar circumstances, such as the University of Wisconsin.

Second, faculty will be restricted in their activities. In particular, Arkansas professors will be far less willing and able to research, teach, and perform public and university service relating to controversial subjects.

That is because when academic freedom and tenure protections are undermined, it becomes easy for administrators to find legally plausible pretexts to punish faculty for protected speech in research, teaching, and service. Recall that the proposal permits termination if a faculty member is not sufficiently “cooperative.” It takes little imagination to see how such a standard will be used to deem professors “uncooperative” if they express unpopular views in any domain of their work.

One might respond by saying that no administrator or faculty body would ever abuse the authority granted by the proposal. History indisputably demonstrates otherwise.

Third, the impact of the changes will be felt most keenly by minorities—racial minorities, religious minorities, and political minorities. That is what happens when individual rights are limited as in the proposal, whether in higher education or other institutional settings. Thus, one of our greatest fears is that the proposal will put conservative faculty in the cross-hairs because they are a distinct minority on campus.

All of those problems together will critically damage the University of Arkansas. Most importantly, the education of our students will be diminished in countless ways. And the research we produce will be less helpful to society. This weakening of teaching and research will injure our entire state—a state starved for college graduates who learned to think critically from faculty who can speak freely.

Given the dramatic harm the proposal will cause, why are the university attorneys pushing for these changes?

They claim that the school needs more flexibility so that it can dismiss ineffective faculty rapidly. That is both false and disingenuous. The university has already admitted the following: (1) over many years, it has confronted only a tiny number of ineffective faculty—meaning that the vast majority of Arkansas professors are fully effective, and (2) the current tools have successfully removed ineffective teachers.

Has the university somehow recently hired a critical mass of yet-undiscovered incompetent professors, requiring a gross diminution of tenure and academic freedom rights? Not a shred of evidence supports such a conclusion.

Let us present an alternative theory. Undermining tenure and academic freedom will make the lives of University Counsel easier. In particular, the proposal grants the school and its lawyers a plethora of excuses to fire professors who “rock the boat” in ways disapproved of by central administrators. The proposal also removes due process rights ensured by the current rules, emasculating termination hearings.

Last but not least, by eliminating protections for service-related speech, the proposal enables the school to quash faculty commentary regarding university operations.

The assault on tenure and academic freedom in America is part of a long-standing trend toward the consolidation of power within university central administrations. College officials all too often prefer a compliant faculty who teach, write, and speak only on uncontroversial subjects. But that fundamentally contradicts the essence of higher education.

Unfortunately, attorneys for the University of Arkansas appear set on dragging our state back to the 19th century, a period when universities were all too often marked by the imposition of stultifying conformity.

  • John Ohnesorge

    Please check your facts on the Wisconsin situation, but don’t talk to the self-appointed spokesfaculty, and definitely don’t believe what you may find searching the local news reports, which just quote the spokesfaculty. Our tenure rules were moved from the state statutes to board of regents regulations, part of a long-overdue process of getting the university some breathing space from rest of the state government. The substance of the rules hasn’t changed appreciably, and only a few radical politicians talked about really changing the substance. What’s going on in Arkansas actually looks a lot more like the kind of “anti-bullying” code that our Faculty Senate adopted with glee a few years ago, led by the same fringe of the faculty who complained so publicly about the supposed gutting of our tenure protections.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      Thanks John. I look forward to looking more deeply into what happened in Wisconsin. If you have any sources, please provide links. But here is the key point: If you are correct, that actually strengthens the arguments Rob Steinbuch and I made. If the changes were milder than I thought, but they still resulted in the widely-reported impacts, then I can only imagine how bad things will get if Arkansas goes much further than Wisconsin. That is particularly so given that the University of Wisconsin is more prestigious than the University of Arkansas. Your comments ultimately make me even more worried than I was.

    • Curious

      What kind of bullying is going on there? Is someone stealing your milk money? Are people body shaming you?
      Or is it just code for the fact that you don’t like some other’s opinions? Bullying, microagressions, and trigger warnings are all examples of trying to stifle speech by falsely equating it with action. It’s called free speech because it’s protected.

  • JRDF

    The orthodoxy of tenure and its abuse, IS the reason that : the exceedingly low number of conservatives on campus is “statistically impossible” and there is overwhelming campus bias. Liberal faculty have openly admitted that they discriminate against conservative candidates for hiring, tenure, research proposals, research publications, etc.

    Do away with tenure, go with merit-based retention, …. many young faculty at my college have said they prefer merit-based. As others have said — tenure allows for “retirement in situ”.

    I like Jay Schalin’s proposals — Faculty Hiring Needs Proper Checks and Balances

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      I largely disagree. While there is some discrimination, I think it is very much the exception to the rule. But the reason that is the case is because of tenure and academic freedom rules. Without them, conservatives on campus, and there are many, will lose most of the few protections they currently have. A system of pure merit-based retention would make it infinitely easier to stifle dissent than the status quo.

  • John Staddon

    There is much wrong with the current tenure system, but what is being proposed here would make it much worse. The purpose of tenure is indeed to facilitate freedom of inquiry. But, once faculty hiring becomes ideologically biased, tenure just makes the bias permanent. A long tenure period (currently it is 5 years followed by up-or-out) allows for filtering out possible dissidents and indoctrinating get-along-by-going along types. I suspect that a much shorter pre-tenure period, two or three years, would favor more diversity — of the proper kind, namely intellectual diversity.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      Interesting suggestion. But if there is a problem, I think it much more likely is at the hiring stage rather than the tenuring stage. One reason academics are more liberal than the populace is self-selection. But discrimination could also be a problem. In any event, as I commented above, I’m all for adding intellectual diversity to the factors we consider in hiring. At all but the most prestigious schools, tenure is pretty easy to get. The hard part is getting in the door. That’s why I think hiring is where there should be more focus.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      By the way, I of course strongly agree that whatever problems we have now, the proposal will make things much, much worse. And it will actually work against intellectual diversity in multiple damaging ways.

  • Ever the skeptic
    • Josh S — Co-Author

      My co-author Rob Steinbuch has regularly noted that the conformity that university administrators might try to impose if the new rules pass has unfortunate parallels to what takes place in totalitarian.

  • OpossumSaladSandwich

    These proposed changes plus the new phenomenon of online outrage mobs could be fatal to the university system.

    That said, what are some alternatives? The abuses of “academic freedom” have been documented for decades (the earliest example of such criticism I can think of is “The Closing of the American Mind”, but there have been many others documenting the problem – the Sokal hoax, “The Blank Slate”, and so on…)

    Specifically, how do you reign in identity politics (the most recent, shocking example was from Evergreen State) and postmodernism? Something has to change.

    Far from teaching critical thinking, people are leaving institutions of higher ed believing complete nonsense. It is so bad at this point, the best option may be to simply defund the arts and humanities, leaving higher ed for STEM only, simply because the more objective the subject matter, the more resistance it has to ideological abuse.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      I generally disagree with your assessment. Identitiy politics and postmodernism are rightly protected by academic freedom. I’m not a postmodernist, but I’ve read extensively on the subject because I have a background in philosophy. Postmodernists do valuable and important work, even though I think they are wrong in many of their key claims.
      Where we might have some common ground is that I think intellectual diversity should be something we focus on just like race and sex diversity. I’m a liberal, but I would like to see more conservatives in higher education.

      • OpossumSaladSandwich

        You wouldn’t say the same thing about Richard Spencer, I’m guessing. Go take a look at some clips of Naima Lowe from Evergreen on Youtube.

        “Academic freedom” has become the freedom from being held to any sort of reasonable standard, both in terms of erudition and behavior.

        I’m not exaggerating when I state that fraternities are held to a higher standard than professors.

        • Josh S — Co-Author

          Re. Spencer, depends what you are asking. Posmodernism is infinitely more persuasive than Richard Spencer, though that isn’t saying much given how unpersuasive Spencer is. But do Spencer’s ideas have a place on campus? If a student group at a public university invites anyone, then that person, no matter their views, should not be excluded on the basis of their views. Indeed, at a public school, they arguably can’t be on First Amendment grounds. At a private school, things become more complicated. The First Amendment is not applicable. So private universities have more discretion over which speakers to allow. Here is what I can say for now. The conservative equivalent of postmodernism should be allowed on campus under principles of academic freedom even at private schools. But Spencer doesn’t fit that.
          Re. Evergreen, anecdotes don’t make a case. As I’ve said in other comments, higher ed isn’t perfect. But some bad examples do not justify indicting the whole system. Not even close, actually.
          Not surprisingly, I completely disagree with your view of academic freedom. But it is ironic that allowing Spencer on campus would arguably meet your claim that no reasonable standard applies. But allowing postmodernism would come nowhere close to that given how intellectually serious postmodernism is in general.
          Part of me wishes that fraternities were held to higher standards than academics. But we aren’t even close to that in higher ed.

          • OpossumSaladSandwich

            As I understand it, Spencer is essentially a postmodernist. He sells the Foulcaultian notion of power as a single lens to view the world through, but argues that white people are right to hold the power.

            If current standards applied across the board, Spencer would be teaching at a university (probably a private one, I’ll give you that).

            WRT frats, how long do you think one would stay open if their members ran around advocating genocide like that Dexel prof, or hitting people with bike locks like that prof in Berkeley?

            Think they might get kicked off campus for failing every course in biology if they insisted that biological sex doesn’t really exist, like that prof that debated Jordan Peterson (Canadian, but Judith Butler is American, and that’s where this absurd nonsense comes from)?


          • OpossumSaladSandwich

            Also, while I’m thinking about it… Another big problem here is activism posing as academics.

            Take “critical race theory”, and the notion that “you cannot be [systemically] racist against white people”. That’s a dangerous, destructive idea. To the extent it ever had something to contribute (I would argue it never did), it was in the 1970s.

            Yet here we are, kids are being taught it, and it is making race relations worse. Academia comes up with crackpot theories, then externalizes the cost to the rest of society in much the same way big oil does with carbon emissions.

            …And when the activist profs that teach this stuff get tenure, that’s a guarantee that they will keep f*****g the same worn out chicken until they retire, regardless of the consequences to society as a whole.

          • Josh S — Co-Author

            I’m very familiar with Critical Race Theory. I generally think people in that field do lots of interesting work. One can disagree with much or all of what they do, but their ideas rightfully fit within academic research. So I actually view Critical Race Theory as an example of the success of academic freedom and tenure. More generally, most universities have sufficiently broad definitions of scholarship such that some activism is quite appropriate. The problem is when alternative perspectives are restricted in the classroom or otherwise. But that’s a separate problem that isn’t exclusive to Critical Race Theory or anything else for that matter.

  • Steve

    The entire campus is a free speech zone, both for faculty/staff and students. Any speech short of an actual threat of violence is protected. Observing the effects of five decades or more of tenure doesn’t provide much support for the concept.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      I wish you were right Steve. Unfortunately, while free speech is protected in higher ed better than just about anywhere else, there are problematic limits. And new limits are being proposed all the time, like what my co-author and I wrote about. More generally, America is regularly recognized as having the best higher education in the world. And I concur with that assessment. Tenure and academic freedom have been integral parts of higher ed in this country for a century. And I see no reason to mess with success.

  • whatever

    It’s easy to sympathize with you. The collegiality condition alone is of the utmost bullsh*t.

    But if only professors respected that tenure was for academic freedom!

    When I speak to professors they literally mainly discuss tenure as an employment spiff, a way to boost otherwise poor salaries, and a d**k measuring contest.

    So on the one hand, professors in my experience, rarely value tenure as way to defend against their most controversial research topics (the earth revolves around the sun), and few to zero professors are teaching or researching anything controversial, and on the other hand, professors, departments, schools seem to be absolutely terrible in enforcing any actual quality guidelines regarding subjects taught and how they are taught.

    So by and large, in a day where tuition is skyrocketing and professors are doing nothing to combat that, and terrible subjects and new requirements are perverting academia, well, I’m all for getting rid of tenure.

    Sorry, but not sorry. Sorry that I feel not sorry.

    Academics, heal thyself.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      My experience is very different from yours
      First, the relationship of tenure to academic freedom is understood by most professors and is regularly highlighted.
      Second, a very substantial percentage of professors teach controversial subjects. In my law school alone, we teach affirmative action, the death penalty, abortion, prayer in schools, same-sex marriage, and much else that is highly controversial. The same was true in my undergraduate courses in philosophy and political science. And many professors are publishing research on very controversial topics, including those I listed above and others such as climate change. Thus, tenure and academic freedom rules really matter. In fact, my co-author of the piece above has published on admissions practices and bar exam passage. He has faced considerably pressure over that work. Without academic freedom and tenure protections, he either wouldn’t have done the work, or would have risked being fired for it.
      Third, Idisagree that schools are ineffective at enforcing quality standards. There are always exceptions. But on the whole, I think higher ed does that quite proficiently, in part because most professors work very hard and do good work across the board.
      Fourth, and last, professors generally have little control over tuition. Both the causes of tuition increases and the decisions to raise tuition are on the administrative side. Indeed, proposals like this one will reduce faculty input still more when it comes to tuition.
      Thanks for joining the discussion.

      • whatever

        Quite bizarre to have a law professor tell me

        1) Tenure is important for academic freedom
        2) Tenure is being threatened
        3) I have no power to address the rising tuition or any of the other ills that come down from administrators that threaten academia.

        • Josh S — Co-Author

          Well, it would be bizarre if I had said that. But of course I didn’t. I did claim 1. And 1 is true. I did claim 2. And 2 is true. But I never claimed 3. I never said faculty have no power to deal with any ills flowing from administrators. I said faculty “generally have little control over tuition.” That is a far narrower claim. It is true. And it is quite compatible with my first two claims.

          • whatever

            No problem I understand. I have very little control over tuition and budgets, all I can do is speak with professors like you and realize my voting no on budget increases, tuition increases, loan increases is not just the right choice, but the choice professors beg for, and that future students need.

            I want to show you something you’ll figure is completely unrelated, but I think is very related.

            It’s SFW, it’s just a receipt for a drive an Uber driver was given:

            So, there’s all these Uber engineers, best and the brightest, I mean really, Uber is known, or was known as a top tier company like Google, better than Google to work for.

            There is not a single Uber engineer that while working for Uber would say he or she had much power to shape the ethics or the business model of Uber.

            They just worked there.

            Kept the trains running on time.

    • DrOfnothing

      The problems you outline have no relationship to one another, and several points are factually wrong.

      Achieving tenure, especially at a prestigious college or university, is a massive hurdle. And one generally only gets 5-6 years to accomplish this herculean task. It typically involves:
      1.) A major research achievement (a book, a multi-million dollar grant, a series of major articles). For example, at UVA, to achieve promotion to tenure, one must publish a book (100k + words) and 3-5 articles (8-12k words each).
      2.) High teaching evaluations from students.
      3.) Service/administrative accomplishments by undertaking a dept. leadership role (e.g. running the MA or Ph.D. program, serving on several committees, running hiring searches).

      Having achieved all this, a junior faculty member _still_ has to run the gauntlet of three separate tenure committees (dept., faculty (e.g. Arts, Engineering, Social Sciences, etc.), and college/university), and a single unfavorable vote could derail the whole process.

      Even if tenure is achieved the salary bump is typically very modest, and sometimes nothing at all, if it’s a tight budget year.

      So no, it is not an “employment spiff.” It is a gruelling, painstaking, profoundly exhausting process that many fail and is more akin to a massive kick in the balls than it is a “d*ck-measuring contest.”

      Getting rid of tenure would have no effect on tuition, and arguing that it would is nonsensical. It would, however, put even more power in the hands of administrators (only tenured faculty can stand up for themselves), and reduce innovation in both teaching and research.

      Here endeth the lecture!

      • whatever

        Nice theory, but doesn’t match reality or my experiences.

        And obviously tenure impacts costs, that’s why schools hire so many adjuncts and pay them slave wages. So what you are claiming is that salary costs are not reflected in tuition.

        Tell me more about this theory of phlogiston you espouse.

        • DrOfnothing

          It’s more complicated than that, as anyone who has dealt intimately with university finances could tell you! Salary and benefits are the number one cost of almost every large institution, and universities are no exception. This is definitely the case, as you rightly surmise. But there are many disadvantages (and some hidden costs) to hiring adjuncts as well. Adjuncts, though they cost less per class hour to hire, don’t perform the range of duties that tenured or tenure-stream faculty do. They cannot do administration, and they conduct no research (and therefore bring in no research income). This means that other staff have to be hired to do these jobs, and relying on adjuncts can cost the university considerably in the long run.

          What adjuncts do provide, and why administrators use them, is flexibility. They can hired or fired more or less at will–the former if, say, there is a demand in a certain major or if their is over-recruitment to a Freshman cohort, the latter if demand drops or there is under-recruitment. Tenured and tenure-stream faculty require a consistent dedication of salary and benefits that cannot be substantially rolled back in lean times. But even if you got rid of tenure altogether, you would still need a sizeable cohort of permanent faculty in order to conduct research and administrative duties that cannot be devolved onto non-academic staff, and to provide a stable cohort of available teachers for each major and whatever courses are in the degree requirements. In addition, the costs of constantly bringing new people on (i.e. searches, even for adjuncts) are considerable.

          Lastly, any reduction of salary costs, even a slight one, is highly unlikely to translate into tuition decreases. As things stand, with decreasing state and federal support and rising costs, universities charge what tuition their peer institutions do and what the market will bear.

  • sestamibi

    Just another skirmish in the ongoing pussification of America, brought to you by feminists, one of whose cardinal principles is that no one’s pwecious widdle feewings must every be hurt–hence the “collegiality” bullshit. U of A will suffer, but so will higher ed overall as this sort of thing spreads.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      We obviously think you are quite right that all of higher ed will suffer if this type of policy spreads. Hopefully that won’t happen.

      • DrOfnothing

        Your article says nothing about feminists or even female faculty. Why are you congratulating the poster on being “quite right?” Do you also believe that this is part of the “pussification of America?” That would certainly be a rather vulgar stance to take for someone on the law faculty. I would have to check Blackstone’s, but I am fairly certain that “pussification” is not a legal term.

        • Josh S — Co-Author

          Look at what I wrote. My “quite right” was in reference to U of A suffering and higher ed suffering if this spreads. I actually don’t think America is undergoing “pussification.” And I made no comment about that aspect of the posting.

          • DrOfnothing

            Fair enough. You article and comments are all sensible and accurate, but I would be careful about even indirect encouragement of the peanut gallery to rant and rave about matters on which they are entirely ignorant.

          • Josh S — Co-Author

            Thanks. I think you are right about needing to be cautious.

  • Liberty51

    If memory serves me right, quite a few years ago Brooklyn College wanted to deny tenure to K.C. Johnson precisely because, notwithstanding his excellent teaching and scholarship, he wasn’t sufficiently “collegial.” What that actually meant was that he did not always agree with hard-core leftist ideas. It took intervention by the chancellor to save Johnson’s position. Basing tenure on collegiality is a terrible idea.

    • Josh S — Co-Author

      Good example. Thank for sharing.

    • DrOfnothing

      Your memory serves you wrong, I’m afraid. KCJ’s case was not centered around ideology, but rather on accusations that he bullied and abused his colleagues, broke college regulations, and generally made life miserable for those who worked with him. You can be a gifted scholar and a popular teacher and still be a total @sshat to work with.

      • Liberty51
        • DrOfnothing

          Certainly worth careful consideration, but hardly objective, since it’s the account of KCJ himself. Should we also believe Nixon’s statement that he is “not a crook”?

  • bud jamison

    From the perspective of the adjunct who’s never going to be on the tenure track (that would be, uh, most) though there is no improvement to your situation provided by tenure. The people who will dump you for not pleasing them tend to be your immediate supervisors, the department chairs. They have keen appreciation for the rights provided TO THEM by tenure, but they’ll axe you in a minute if they find YOU are not ‘collegial’. This can, and frequently does, include your misgivings about their dumbing down the curriculum. Keep your mouth shut, as Einstein would advise.
    If anything the extreme job security tenure provides means that it needs to be offset by the flexibility of the larger workforce with extreme LACK of job security.
    Getting rid of tenure? No tears.

  • Anthony Hennen

    From Robert V. Iosue, PhD in mathematics:

    The authors of the article are on solid ground in stating that lack of congeniality with other professors should not be a reason for firing a tenured professor. Neither should one bad review by an administrator cause the tenured professor to be fired. However, the authors make too tight a connection between freedom of speech and academic speech.

    My history may be a bit off, but I think Johns Hopkins University was among the first to offer academic freedom to it professors. In the early 1940s, the AAUP proposed academic freedom for all colleges, and over time, just about all colleges have accepted it.

    But academic freedom differs in one serious way from freedom of speech. It allows a professor virtual unlimited sway in his or her field of expertise for which he or she was hired. Freedom of speech, on the other hand, allows any person to speak on any subject. For example, if a professor of mathematics belittles the college’s English department to the media, the professor should be fired whether or not tenure is involved.

  • DrOfnothing

    Good to hear someone speaking out on this. The assault on tenure is a widespread and ongoing issue across the sector, and it serves no one’s interests except the managerial class that wish to see the faculty disfranchised and relegated to insecure employment as poorly-paid waged workers with no intellectual freedom.

  • Dantes

    I’ve cross posted this at Instapundit and Higher education.

    In the hospital world with doctors, this is known as sham peer review. Hospital medical staff bylaws have been weaponized since the late 1980’s and used to get rid of ‘disruptive’ physicians, such as those who make waves about quality of care issues, or who have businesses that the hospitals think the doctor is taking business from. There are a host of tactics which have been perfected by law firms such as Horty-Springer, who give seminars in how to get rid of ‘disruptive’ doctors using sham peer review.

    It would not surprise me if Horty-Springer were involved in some way. A whole new market could open up for them.

    The problem is that hospitals are given immunity by a bad federal law, and hospitals have very deep legal pockets, so it is difficult to fight in court.

    You really should investigate sham peer review as the model for this. Talk to Dr. Lawrence Huntoon, who can be reached through the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. He’s an expert on sham peer review and it’s abuse;I know, I’ve been through it.