It is hard to know when to get excited about bills introduced in state legislatures. There is a lot of performative stuff with no chance of passage that nonetheless can get a lot of attention from activists and the press. When the House majority leader of a state legislature introduces a bill, however, I think you have to take that seriously. And the majority leader in North Dakota is now pushing a doozy of a bill.
Inside Higher Ed has a good rundown:
North Dakota’s House majority leader has introduced legislation that would let presidents of at least two colleges, Dickinson State University and Bismarck State College, fire tenured faculty members based on those presidents’ own, unappealable reviews.
The text of the proposed legislation can be found here.
A couple of key provisions:
3. If a president determines a tenured faculty member has failed to comply with a duty or responsibility of tenure, the president may not renew the contract of the tenured faculty member, unless the president specifically articulates why it is in the interest of the institution to continue to employ the faculty member despite the faculty member’s failure to comply with the duties and responsibilities of tenure.
4. The president of an institution may enlist the assistance of an administrator at the institution to conduct a review but may not delegate responsibility for the review to a faculty member who is not an administrator.
. . . .
6. A review under this section is not appealable or reviewable by a faculty member or faculty committee. . . .
Apparently the design of this bill is motivated specifically by the fact that post-tenure review systems adopted at many state universities do not result in enough fired professors.
The world of American higher education may look very different in a few years.