Inside Higher Ed
by Colleen Flaherty
February 21, 2022
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas said Friday that he would see to the end of tenure at the state’s public colleges and universities. His reason? The University of Texas at Austin’s Faculty Council had recently gone “too far” in asserting professors’ right to teach critical race theory.
“What we will propose to do is end tenure, all tenure for all new hires,” Patrick, a Republican, said during a press conference. For currently tenured professors, he continued, “the law will change to say teaching critical race theory is prima facie evidence of good cause for tenure revocation.”
It’s unclear how far Patrick’s proposal will go. Texas lieutenant governors have real power when it comes to setting the legislative agenda, and Patrick said he already has the support of Brandon Creighton, Republican chair of the state Senate Committee on Higher Education. Unnamed university leaders and members of the University of Texas system’s Board of Regents also “think tenure has outlived its time because they don’t have control of their own universities,” Patrick said. Even so, any serious attempt by Texas to end tenure will be a titanic battle between legislators and faculty advocates: PEN America has already called the proposal “a mortal threat to academic freedom,” while the American Association of University Professors fact-checked Patrick’s “disingenuous” speech and warned that changing the law to make teaching CRT a fireable offense is “an extremely dangerous authoritarian precedent.”