State Lawmakers Attack Higher Education in Texas as Bill Gutting Tenure Policies is Signed by Governor

June 15, 2023

CONTACT: Emily Witt, [email protected]

AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Abbott yesterday signed SB 18 into law. The legislation changes tenure policies for public universities including how tenure is granted to faculty members, how tenured faculty are reviewed, and when tenured faculty can be dismissed.

Attacks on tenure across the country are nothing new, with attempts dating back to at least 2017.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick first hinted at an attack on tenure for Texas professors in 2022 as a reaction to a University of Texas vote he disagreed with. 

Texas Freedom Network Organizing Strategist Emerald Belmarez (she/her) issued the following response​:

“Our Texas pride comes from the fact that we work together to have the biggest and best resources for our community — this includes having great public universities that attract students and keep great talent in Texas. As a tool for Texas Universities to retain the best teachers, they use tenure to attract and keep the best professors that students love. In passing legislation that diminishes or erases tenure, far-right legislators are weakening Texas by pushing away talented faculty to train our amazing students. Young Texans know their worth, and attacks on freedom of knowledge that hinder their academic pursuit will not be accepted. An attack on tenure is an attack on Texans.”

Dr. Ashley Farmer, associate professor at UT Austin, testified against the legislation, saying:“It is only after tenure that we serve even more students across the university, including training numerous Ph.D. students to meet the support of someone who will lead them through a half-decade-long projects. It is after tenure that we move into the ranks of governance and committees that keep our universities running and investing in the schools that have invested in us. And it is because of tenure that we are able to put down roots in a community and invest in the local economy, the schools, and the life of the city. That is what the security of tenure provides.”