Monday, May 1, 2023

New College of Florida board of trustees denies tenure to assistant professors, including two chemists

Via Chemical and Engineering News' Krystal Vasquez: 
The New College of Florida’s board of trustees has denied tenure to five faculty members in a 6–4 vote. Among them were organic chemistry professors Rebecca Black and Lin Jiang.

All five faculty were recommended for tenure on Feb. 24, after completing their tenure packages a year ahead of schedule. Their last hurdle was approval by the board.

But in a memo to the trustees sent out 12 days prior to the April 26 board of trustees meeting, New College’s interim president, Richard Corcoran, recommended that the board either defer or deny the professors’ tenure, citing “extraordinary circumstances,” a point he reiterated during the meeting. The circumstances include changes to the administration and “a renewed focus on ensuring the College is moving towards a more traditional liberal arts institution,” the memo said.

...All five faculty have a second chance to be considered for tenure next year.

It's hard not to see this move as both a breach of the general understanding of tenure as well as the most significant of a number of moves by the board of trustees that have been appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

In other news, it is worth noting that Texas has a similar bill that has passed the Texas Senate (article from April 20); it is unknown what the bill's status is in the Texas House: 

AUSTIN, Texas — A bill passed by the Texas Senate on Thursday would ban public universities and colleges from granting tenure to professors, a Republican priority from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

Senate Bill 18, authored by Conroe Republican Brandon Creighton, would ban the practice of tenure, which grants academics assurance of employment regardless of their personal beliefs or discussions.

Sen. Creighton called the tenure practice "outdated and costly," saying it limits academic integrity by ensuring employment regardless of performance. Republican legislatures across the country have scrutinized tenure in recent years, with many working on "tenure reviews" every few years. Texas, though, is largely leading the way to an outright ban on tenure altogether.

It will be interesting to see if this will actually happen, and what would happen to chemistry departments in prominent public research universities in Texas. 


  1. On behalf of Anna Owensby, Jason Altom, and countless others, cry me a f---ing river.

  2. Just a coincidence that this is happening in red states that are currently trying to push education back to the stone ages?

    1. I don't see this as a Democrat versus Republican issue. I have taken more than a few college and graduate courses from tenured professors who were just phoning it in. They never updated their lecture materials or they barely showed up for class. I have seen tenured professors who were miserable to coworkers and staff with complete impunity. There should be a middle ground between a lifetime job regardless of performance and complete lack of job security for someone continually demonstrating their worth. As far as I'm concerned, turning every issue into a binary choice between political parties is backward and tribal.

  3. Does the board publish their justifications? I cannot find this information anywhere.

  4. Unfortunately, I think tenure, or long term (say 25 yr) contracts are needed so that the integrity of the published literature out of academia doesn't get any worse than it already is. You think their are problems with irreproducible data now, just think what it will be like if you have to publish X amount of papers in Y highly cited journals to get a grant to keep your job in academia....

    1. This is already happening in medical schools and “soft money” institutions… There is little difference between research and selling life insurance in these places!

  5. Per the New College website, this looks to be half of their chemistry faculty o.O


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20