Much remains to be explored on this topic, but take note of a brewing  debate in the University of Arkansas System, a proposal to change tenure policy.

The general counsel’s office of the University of Arkansas has drafted a proposal to “update” the promotion and tenure policy, a System spokesman confirms. It was sent to the campuses in mid-September for feedback. The spokesman characterizes this as part of an ongoing effort in recent years to update board policies to “align them with current law and practice.”


At least two law professors, one current and one former, see the proposals as weakening of existing tenure protection. and an attack on academic freedom.

Richard Peltz-Steele, a former UALR law professor who now teaches in Massachusetts, has posted a blog item about the issue. That post includes excerpts from a memo about the proposal by Josh Silverstein, a faculty member at UA-Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law. He contends in a memo urging other faculty members to get involved that the proposal expands the ability to terminate for cause. It does so, he says, by


(1) effectively establishing collegiality as a basis for termination, and (2) permitting dismissal after a single unsatisfactory rating in an annual review. In addition, the revisions critically weaken the procedural protections available at university committee hearings regarding terminations.

University spokesman Nate Hinkel said feedback is being received and he expects something to be put before the Board of Trustees at its next meeting. It’s scheduled Nov. 8-9 at Pulaski Tech. He said the proposal may undergo changes based on faculty comments.

Here’s the existing tenure policy.


Following is the proposal to change tenure policy, with highlights of changes.