Termination of possession bill would hurt Upper Texas (opinion)

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Texas State Building, where lawmakers consider a bill that would terminate service at the state’s public universities.

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the Logo At my institution, The University of Texas at Austin, the title is “What Starts Here Changes the World.” We are proud of the many amazing accomplishments of our undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. In the past two years, two of my colleagues, History professor Monica Muñoz Martinez And Astrophysicist Moriba JahThey are named MacArthur Fellows, just to name a few for the nationally recognized excellence of our faculty.

Each year, faculty members win federal grants and research fellowships. They are inducted into a wide range of national and international organizations in recognition of their academic achievements. UT Austin is regularly ranked among the top 10 public institutions in the country, is recognized for the quality of our teaching and research, the research opportunities we offer students, and our affordable tuition fees. We take very seriously our responsibility to provide A first class education for our students, and about 90 percent of the undergraduates are from Texas. With all this in mind, I am deeply concerned about the future of the University of which I have been so proud to be a part over the past two decades.

Texas Senate Bill 18– which would prohibit the granting of a post to any faculty in the future after September 1 – it was Passed earlier this month by both the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education and the Senate Committee on Education. These votes were the first of many that would be required for this bill to be signed into law, but this outcome seems vastly more likely.

Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education, Senator Brandon Creightondescribes tenure as “a practice of guaranteed employment for life” and has justified the need to get rid of it with the argument that “we have seen the brand and reputation of many of our colleges and universities, including our leading companies, that have certainly suffered damage because of the actions of a few vocal faculty.” and fringe.” Sadly, the fact that our state legislators are seriously considering removing tenure from all public institutions of higher learning in Texas is It already caused a lot of damage To the reputation of public institutions in Texas as we try to recruit the best and brightest professors to join the college this fall. If SB 18 becomes law, it will undermine Big investments Texas lawmakers have built the research capacity of universities across the state.

Conferring a position is not a “position” A recent article in Texas described. Also, it cannot be reduced to a “guaranteed job for life,” as my colleague put it Andrea Gore explained. It is critical to producing high-quality, innovative research in all areas of study. It’s a bad bet for Texas to take this step to eliminate the practice Existing since 1915This will continue to be the case for every other Research-1 university.

Far from being a gift given to a faculty member after a certain number of working years, the position is given in recognition of outstanding work in research, teaching, and service. At present, a possession case is at UT Austin It requires the candidate to submit a voluminous portfolio including documentation of the five most important publications; student course assessments, as well as multiple peer education assessments; letters from colleagues about their service and supervisory activities; At least six letters from faculty members at other ‘peer institutions’; and candidate statements about teaching and research. Their case is reviewed at the department, college, dean, and president levels. The process of compiling all documents and then reviewing them takes at least one year.

In addition, all appointed faculty working in public institutions in Texas are subject to the annual show of their work. All assistant professors are subject to the permanent track A Comprehensive review for the third year To assess their progress and provide feedback. Every six years, all tenured faculty undergo a very careful examination Universal periodic review. The notion that Texas public universities are full of “rigid” tenured faculty who do nothing but collect their paychecks is a convenient myth for opponents of office. In fact, we are evaluated much more intensively than employees in other employment sectors.

The term of membership is recognition of an outstanding record in teaching, research, and service and an investment in the individual faculty member’s future career. It is also what underpins the University’s ability to continue to provide our students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with the consistent, world-class education they deserve. It is what attracts applications from top alumni. Every Texas student has the opportunity to be taught by faculty members who are considered experts in their field of research.

At UT Austin, undergraduates regularly work with faculty on their current research, whether in one of the many professor-run labs on campus, at Archaeological excavations in Sicilyor study the archives on our own Harry Ransom Center. Each year, our faculty use our university degrees and professional networks to secure prestigious internships as well as admission to graduate programs and vocational schools for our students. Likewise, we help graduate students secure job opportunities after graduation, both in industry and in academia.

Adam Kesselis a senior fellow at the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy. visiting fellow on higher education reform at the Heritage Foundation, and since October 2020, Visiting scientist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education on SB 18. He suggested it “Without a tenure, organizations will find new ways to attract, retain, and enhance the best talent. That is because tenure is not the only thing professors value. in the world to work with you. There are plenty of ways to do that.”

With all due respect to Kessel, he’s wrong. If there were “plenty of ways to do it,” it would have been done long ago by other institutions. Faculty members place an extraordinary value on length of service. If professors wanted to maximize their income, they would not have decided to work in academia. Many of us chose to stay at a Texas public university when other universities offered more rewarding jobs. We are passionate about teaching young people in Texas to master skills, including critical thinking and communication. We are passionate about the research work that we do. We work nights, weekends, holidays and all summer because we are intrinsically motivated. We are not motivated by financial incentives but by the desire to make a difference in the lives of our students and to advance research in our chosen areas of expertise.

A law that removes the possibility of getting a job or being appointed as a senior research professor with a position is not going to change the world. It would change Texas and the landscape of public higher education in Texas. Texas has a long and eventful history of dedication to access to public education. SB 18 would quickly undo the decades of work that went into creating the state’s high-quality public universities. The consequences of passing the 18th course will not be felt all at once; Academia is moving slowly, after all. But they will feel it when the current assistant professors leave, and as the respected professors leave. some will take other academic positions; Others will choose industry jobs. While “cleaning the house” might sound like a good idea For our state legislature, the stark truth is that there is no secret group of conservative professors denied access to career track positions because they hold and teach conservative views.

In five years and certainly in a decade, Texas public universities will not be able to offer the world-class education, plethora of opportunities that Texas students deserve. Companies move to Texas Not just for tax breaks and lifestyle but because our public universities provide a highly educated workforce. If this bill becomes law in Texas, it will irreparably damage the reputation of many public universities in the state, including its flagship, UT Austin. It will seriously reduce our ability to hire or retain associate professors. The appointment protects professors of all political persuasions and is valued by conservatives as much as liberal faculty. Farmers do not eat corn seeds. Texas is prepared to do just that by banning office grants after Sept. 1.

Jennifer Epler is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Association of University Professors chapter at the University of Austin.