Study of UW System Confirms
Tenure was a “Job for Life”
 
May 26, 2016 - Robin Vos

Madison… A review of employment records over the last two decades illustrate that tenure at the UW System equated to a "job for life.”  Records provided to the Speaker’s Office show only six tenured faculty have been dismissed for just cause in the last 20 years. That translates to .007 percent dismissal rate for cause in any given year. In comparison at the national level, it’s estimated that two-percent of tenured faculty are dismissed in a typical year.

“I have not and never will doubt the absolute value of academic freedom to make sure we have a great university. Ideas must be expressed on campus without fear of losing your job.  As a conservative, I know that academic freedom is more likely to be needed on campus by those
that share my philosophy than almost any other category of instructor in the UW System.  Academic freedom should never be questioned, but we also need to have each and every state employee pulling their weight for the taxpayers as we all work together to keep our state growing,” said Speaker Vos.
 
One of the goals of reforming tenure was to remove the “job for life” employment status and status quo mentality. Tenure has proven to be ironclad job protections in the UW System.
 
Before the recent reforms, tenure was deemed an unlimited appointment granted to faculty members who produce a “consistent and high level of scholarship.”  That unlimited appointment was granted to thousands of faculty members throughout the system.  According to data provided to the Speaker’s Office, the UW System has 4,560 tenured faculty and 1,772 employees on the tenure track. The review found that 60 percent who apply for tenure receive it. During the past school year, exactly 201 professors received tenure in the UW System.
 
“It was an important step forward when the tenure policies were removed from state statute to mirror other states in the country,” Speaker Vos said.  “UW System leaders developed new policies with input from faculty to allow for the necessary flexibilities to innovate and improve.”
 
“I love our university system.  As a product of UW-Whitewater and a former student regent, I want the best for our universities, colleges, students and the taxpayers,” said Speaker Vos. “The UW System can continue to innovate, research, teach and influence the minds of tomorrow but it can’t do it effectively if we’re stuck in a perpetual state of protest.”
 
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