Texas Senate’s priority bills on higher ed would end tenure, diversity policies

The bills are part of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s list of priorities and, if passed as filed, could have profound impacts on how Texas universities recruit top faculty and other employees.


UH Higher Ed Texas Tribune
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
University of Houston students return to their campus on Sept. 5, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey.
Tenure is an indefinite appointment for university faculty that can only be terminated under extraordinary circumstances. Professors who are considered on track to earn tenure typically work for five or six years as a professor before they go through a monthslong tenure review process. Typically, all tenured and non-tenured faculty already receive annual performance reviews, while tenured professors undergo a periodic review process. At UT-Austin, for instance, tenured professors undergo a comprehensive review of their teaching, research and other contributions to the university every six years.
Under the bill, board members, who are appointed by the governor, would be able to approve or deny the hiring of vice presidents, provosts and deans, as well as approve courses in the core curriculum.
Creighton’s bill prohibits these statements statewide. It also says a university may not create or have a diversity, equity and inclusion office that considers anything but “color-blind and sex-neutral hiring processes,” conducts trainings or activities related to “race, color, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation,” unless those trainings are approved in writing by the university’s general counsel and the Texas Attorney General.
The bill would rename the existing National Research University Fund, which provides extra funding to universities trying to boost their research arms, to the Texas University Fund.