As Republican Gov. Scott Walker prepares to campaign for president as the man who tamed Wisconsin’s unions, he’s taking on a new labor fight: weakening tenure protections for professors at public colleges and universities.
Walker insists that by allowing the University of Wisconsin system Board of Regents, 16 of whose 18 members are appointed by the governor, to set tenure policies instead of having tenure protections spelled out in state law will help give the state university system more flexibility and financial leverage.
His effort could endear him to conservatives who are scornful of what they view as higher education’s ivory tower — a perception Walker has encouraged by suggesting that “maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to think about teaching more classes and doing more work” — but it has infuriated academics and others who consider tenure a vital protection of academic freedom.
“After lots of hammers, this seems to be like a large mallet,” said James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association. <Read more.>