Georgia professors rally against proposed tenure review changes



State’s Board of Regents to vote on the proposals Wednesday

About 50 faculty members from at least a half-dozen Georgia universities rallied Tuesday against proposed changes to the state system’s post-tenure review process that they believe will make it easier for administrators to fire them.

The protest, held before a two-day state Board of Regents meeting on Georgia Tech’s campus, is the latest dispute in a semester-long battle between the two sides over key aspects of the system’s direction.

Many involved in Tuesday’s rally have also demanded the University System issue additional safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as mask mandates in all classrooms. System administrators have rebuffed demands for mandates, instead strongly recommending students wear masks in all classes.

The tenure review changes under dispute include the potential for a faculty member to lose their job if they have two consecutive subpar annual reviews and don’t meet corrective measures. The proposed changes also include adding a student success component to reviews to evaluate how faculty members interact with students outside the classroom through mentoring or advising.

ExploreTenure review: Why Georgia's Board of Regents may revise rules for college faculty

The demonstrators repeatedly chanted “What do we want? Protect tenure. When do we want it? Now.”

Several states have attempted to curtail tenure in recent years, and the percentage of faculty members with tenure has declined nationally, according to some research. The faculty members who attended Tuesday’s rally believe the changes are a political power grab being led by some Regents members to be in alignment with efforts in other states.



About 27% of the University System’s 11,846 faculty members were classified last year as professors, slightly up from 24% in 2015, state data shows.

System leaders say the proposed changes are an attempt to better measure student success. They say that is critical as they try to do a better job of getting students to complete their degrees.

“Our intent with these policy changes is to promote faculty development and accountability as well as to align these with our mission of student success,” Regent Erin Hames said during the board’s Academic Affairs committee meeting Tuesday.

The board is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes Wednesday.