Utah’s “Post-Tenure Review”

Late last week the Utah Board of Regents, which oversees the state university system, decided to implement something called the “post-tenure review” of professors. According to an article by Brian Maffly in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Regents voted to strengthen the post-tenure reviews of professors, mandating periodic evaluations that ensure faculty continue to meet standards for teaching and research once they achieve tenure’s protections.

The move was intended to mollify legislative critics who say the tenure system has outlived its usefulness and removes incentives for professors to excel in the classroom and lab. Last session, a bill to scrap tenure was dropped in committee, but the issue is certain to be resurrected next year.

The exact purpose of this new policy is somewhat unclear. Either professors do or do not have tenure. Another review after tenure is granted won’t change that.

Tenure protects professors from being fired without cause. Colleges can still fire tenured professors for incompetence or if budgetary constraints force them to eliminate academic positions, but it’s very hard to do. That’s sort of the point.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer