(KCPW News) A strike at lifelong employment for college professors failed to pass the House Education Committee Wednesday. Republican Representative Chris Herrod’s second attempt to ban Utah colleges and universities from granting academic tenure failed on a 10-to-4 vote. Opponents of the bill noted the state’s strengthened five-year tenure review, which frustrated Herrod, who says that was a direct result of his attempt to ban tenure last year.
“You have to push them to do things. I hope now that they will actually do a 360 review,” he says. “Ask their students, which are the best teachers? Are they the tenured professors or are they the non-tenured professors? That’s what’s hurting their relationship with the public in general is that there seems to be a sense of entitlement that somebody that has that position is entitled to tenure.”
Herrod’s bill would not have applied to the state’s research institutions, the University of Utah and Utah State University.
Dr. Lorris Betz with the U of U says the standard across the country is that university professors can compete for and win tenure. But he notes the state can provide faculty with appointments that aren’t tenured.
“We have alternates to the tenure track which many faculty are choosing to go on because they don’t have to be subjected to the rigorous review and the possibility that they’ll have to leave the institution if they don’t successfully make that review,” he explains.
Betz and many other lawmakers contend if the legislature were to eliminate tenure for higher education institutions in Utah, they would not be able to attract high-quality faculty.