Last Friday, Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick issued a statement that in part said one of his priorities in the next legislative session was to eliminate tenure at all public universities and define teaching critical race theory (CRT) as a cause for a tenured professor to be dismissed.
That was followed by the Texas A&M faculty senate’s executive committee, without naming Patrick, passing a resolution that stated in part they supported “institutions of higher education in Texas who are opposed to interference in matters of academics and curriculum, which are the purview of the faculty.” The resolution also sought the support of A&M’s president and the chancellor of the A&M system.
WTAW News asked and received responses from president Katherine Banks and chancellor John Sharp about the faculty senate executive committee’s resolution. Banks and Sharp both said they look forward to meeting with state leaders at the appropriate time.
Banks also said she wants to discuss how A&M has used tenure to achieve success in recruitment and retention of highly accomplished faculty, and how the “strong support” of state leaders and the legislature had led A&M to bring “some of the best and brightest scholars who have contributed to a research portfolio exceeding $1 billion dollars a year.
Sharp also said he wants to discuss how the system can “continue to lead the nation in recruiting and retaining the brightest minds for teaching and research critical to the future prosperity of Texas.”
News release from Dan Patrick February 18, 2022:
“Tenured professors must not be able to hide behind the phrase ‘academic freedom,’ and then proceed to poison the minds of our next generation. I am outraged by the University of Texas at Austin’s Faculty Council’s 41-5 vote on a resolution in support of teaching critical race theory, and I am further outraged that the Faculty Council told the legislature and the UT Board of Regents that it is none of their business what they taught. Universities across Texas are being taken over by tenured, leftist professors, and it is high time that more oversight is provided.
“During the upcoming 88th Legislative Session, one of my priorities will be eliminating tenure at all public universities in Texas. To address already-tenured professors, we will change tenure reviews from every 6 years to annually. Additionally, we will define teaching Critical Race Theory in statute as a cause for a tenured professor to be dismissed.
“The Texas Senate will also take up giving Boards of Regents more authority to address issues of tenure.”
Resolution passed by the Texas A&M faculty senate’s executive committee February 21, 2022:
“Whereas the recent rhetoric of Texas state officials opposed to tenure and teaching about issues of race in the classroom is damaging the reputation and future of public higher education in Texas, and
Whereas academic freedom is the very foundation upon which our university is built and is imbedded in Texas A&M System and University policies, and
Whereas the importance of academic freedom is affirmed in the 1940 statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors to which we subscribe,
Therefore, be it resolved that the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate of Texas A&M University strongly affirms the stance of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, American Association of University Professors and more than 70 other higher education organizations that “educators, not politicians, should make decisions about teaching and learning.”
And be it further resolved that we stand with our colleagues at the University of Texas, the Texas Council of Faculty Senates and other institutions of higher education in Texas who are opposed to interference in matters of academics and curriculum, which are the purview of the faculty.
And be it further resolved that the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate urges Chancellor John Sharp and President M. Katherine Banks to proclaim their support for academic freedom at Texas A&M University and its importance to the functioning of a world-class university.”
Statement from Texas A&M president Katherine Banks to WTAW News February 22, 2022:
“At Texas A&M, we have successfully recruited some of the best and brightest scholars in the nation who have contributed to development of a research portfolio of expenditures exceeding $1 billion annually. This has been accomplished with strong support from our states’ leadership and the Texas Legislature. Our research enterprise is critical to the future prosperity of Texas and the nation. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with state leaders when appropriate to discuss how we have used tenure to achieve our success in recruitment and retention of highly accomplished faculty.”
Statement from Texas A&M system chancellor John Sharp to WTAW News February 22, 2022:
“As a public university system we appreciate the Legislature’s support to help our institutions recruit leading faculty to solve some of society’s most pressing problems. We look forward to sitting down with state leaders at the appropriate time to discuss how we can continue to lead the nation in recruiting and retaining the brightest minds for teaching and research critical to the future prosperity of Texas.”