University of Florida (UF) faculty have expressed worry about a new regulation that would allow college deans to review employment of tenured faculty every five years instead of seven, The Gainesville Sun reported.
UF faculty already have a tenured review process that takes place every seven years.
The Florida Board of Governors will meet in January to discuss the new policy. The regulation’s review requirements outline the Florida Educational Equity Act, which bars teaching of themes of critical race theory at universities.
“By specifically mentioning this statute and no others, what it does is that it sends a message to faculty in our state, and to potential faculty members elsewhere, that you are going to be targeted if you cover topics that are deemed controversial by elected officials,” said Dr. Amanda Phalin, chair of the UF Faculty Senate.
Faculty said the rule will open the gates to removing staff with research deemed controversial. Per the rule, deans will look at “the level of accomplishment and productivity” relative to faculty members' research, faculty’s non-compliance with state law and Board of Governor regulations, and student complaints.
Dr. Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida, said the issue was that the rule allowed for the chair to terminate tenured faculty without peer input.
“What the Board of Governors has proposed with this statewide tenure review is deeply problematic," Gothard said. "It puts the entire decision-making process about tenure in the hands of one person."
The regulation may put faculty recruitment and retention at risk as well, according to Dr. Danaya Wright, UF professor of law.
“They’re going to leave and they’re not going to come … and that’s the harm of this bill," Wright said. "Anybody who comes in is going to feel that whatever tenure protection they’re getting is much weaker than they would get at another institution."