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MSU policy change makes it easier to revoke tenure

Posted at 8:42 AM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 08:42:16-05

A policy change at Michigan State University will make it easier to revoke tenure.

"This new policy, we believe is a game-changer," said Stephanie Anthony, Vice Chair for MSU faculty staff and senate.

"It is historical, in that the University took a proactive standpoint, and basically reduced the amount of time because so often, these types of policies took a very long time to remove tenured faculty that are definitely doing egregious things or anything along those lines," Anthony added.

Before now, the process took over one year to complete.

Tenure is a system put in place to protect professors' freedom to research and teach even sensitive subjects. It gives tenured professors significant job security but can also make the process of firing wrongdoers difficult and time-consuming.

MSU Spokesperson, Dan Olsen says the university has streamlined the process and put a date by which decisions should be final, "Which is 120 days from the start of the process to that conclusion."

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously and approvedthe new policy last week.

Tenured faculty may face disciplinary action for relationship and sexual violence, harassment, and financial misdoings.

To revoke tenure, a professor's actions must meet the standard of "gross wrongdoing."

"If they are found to have violated the university's relationship violence and sexual misconduct policy, the next step in that process would be applying appropriate sanctions. And so an individual would enter into this policy process the tenured discipline and dismissal for cause process to ultimately determine what their sanctions will be," said Olsen.

Also, if a faculty member's conduct is determined to be egregious enough for tenure revocation, they will no longer be able to retire from the university.

"The MSU faculty, the staff and the administration, we believe our students are priority. They are number one. And we want to make sure that when they come to Michigan State University, they will be in an environment that supports them," said Anthony.

MSU is also working on a professional standards policy for faculty and academic staff to provide a common understanding of what behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate.