Why Do I Think This Is Just Window-Dressing?

For a while, Texas was the hotbed of academic reform. A few regents, at least, were serious about improving faculty productivity, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation pushed for better data. But the bold move of publishing faculty salaries and workloads elicited angry feedback.

Now the University of Texas system (Texas has several public higher-ed systems, but this is the leading one) seems to be settling back into the normal torpor.

On Thursday, the UT Board of Regents passed a requirement for annual post-tenure review. Previously, a review was required only every six years (and according to the Austin American-Statesman not much happened as a result).

But I don’t see any teeth in the document that the regents adopted. Evaluations will be the following: “exceeds expectations, meets expectations, does not meet expectations, and unsatisfactory.” The criteria for dismissal are “incompetence, neglect of duty, or other good cause,” but that is not anything new — and dismissal must follow “remediation,” anyway.

The document goes on to say: “Individuals whose performance is unsatisfactory for two consecutive annual reviews may be subject to a comprehensive review.” On the other hand, as far as I can see, they may not be.

Hasn’t the federal government been evaluating staff this way for years? Hardly anyone fails to meet expectations there, and I don’t see any reason why this will be different. Oh, one more reason not to think much of this: The Faculty Advisory Council approved the measure.

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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