More than half of UT faculty is tenured or on track for tenure

Anna Lassmann

More than half of UT faculty is tenured or on track to become tenured as of fall 2017, according to the Institutional Reporting, Research and Information Systems.

“Tenure denotes a status of continuing appointment as a member of the faculty and the purpose is to protect academic freedom in teaching and research,” UT communications strategist Shilpa Bakre said in an email.

Faculty have to work a certain period of time as non-tenured before they can be considered for tenure, according to the Regents’ Rules and Regulations. Tenure is voted on by the UT System Board of Regents.

Only professors who have tenure have the official title of professor, assistant professor and associate professor. 

“Most universities have a probationary period of five or six years, and at the end of that they give you tenure and a promotion, or they do not, and you must leave,” said Barry Brummett, communication studies professor and department chair, in an email. “Having tenure is a kind of job protection and also a protection of academic freedom in that it becomes very difficult to fire someone for, say, unpopular political opinions.”

Once a faculty member is granted tenure, they undergo two types of periodic evaluations, annual and comprehensive, according to regulation. Annual reviews focus on individual merit based on the professor’s assigned responsibilities, while comprehensive reviews are required at least every six years and include a peer review.

“The annual review is a helpful statement to faculty as to how they are performing,” Brummett said in an email. “A comprehensive review is done after tenure and promotion — usually every six years — and is a statement as to whether someone has remained productive.”

If in either the annual or comprehensive review there appears to be incompetence or neglect of duty, disciplinary action may be taken, according to regulation.

Further review for termination may be taken after the Board of Regents reviews the allegation, according to the regulation. After the review, the professor can respond to the allegation, in which a hearing takes place with faculty and staff. This is then followed by a final board review.

Bakre said faculty are required to adhere to the rules and regulations of the University and UT System. Some faculty members have been recommended for termination within the past fifteen years, Bakre said.

Mathematics junior Kapil Mangrolia said he took a course taught by a tenured professor but did not appreciate the way the professor taught. Mangrolia said this is the only issue he has had with a tenured professor at UT, but that the process to terminate professors should be simpler if their Course Instructor Surveys and teaching are constantly inadequate.

“If they do a bad job teaching and refuse to change their (style) of teaching then they should be fired from teaching,” Mangrolia said. “The professor can still do research for the University though. I’ve ran into many smart people, but not every smart person is a good teacher.”