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UW Professors Uneasy Over Tenure Survey

Email Questionaire Linked To Conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute

Phil Roeder (CC-BY)

Some professors in the University of Wisconsin System are expressing concern over a survey they received via email about faculty tenure this week.

The emails ask professors what it would take for them to forgo tenure protections. A number of recipients have said they’re worried the emails are aimed at weakening tenure, which was removed from state law in the most recent budget but remains at the university level.

Kenneth Mayer, a political scientist at UW-Madison, said some of the questions were leading and could potentially be used to argue tenure is unnecessary.

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“Faculty would work harder if they didn’t have tenure. That you wouldn’t have to increase salaries much to get rid of tenure,” he said, describing possible arguments that could be drawn from the survey results.

The University of Chicago researcher doing the survey has said he’s being paid by the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

Mayer said the group is “not at all supportive” of tenure. “People formulated the impression that this was an attempt to collect information that could be used to hurt the university,” he said.

Neither the researcher nor WPRI responded to requests for comment.

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