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Reason Foundation

California Legislature Mandates that "Public Service" Be Required for University Tenure

Lisa Snell
September 6, 2012, 2:53pm

As Dan Walters reports in the Sacramento Bee:

A third element would be required in the hiring and promotion of faculty members. It's called "service." The specifics of Assembly Bill 2132 appear to give great weight to political, or at least semi-political, activities favored by those on the political left.

They include, in the words of a legislative bill analysis, "developing programs for underserved populations" and "outreach programs developed to promote cultural diversity in the student body."

The California State University system would be required to make "service" an element with teaching and the bill "encourages" the constitutionally independent University of California to include "service" in its evaluations.

It is a mistake for the state of California to "legislate" faculty requirements for tenure and promotion even at public universities. This is a one-size-fits-all policy and it politicizes "public service" and ignores legitimate reasons why in some disciplines public service may not be a priority for promotion. Is a faculty member completing research on breast cancer also required to complete public service in addition to their basic research? The emphasis on "public service" for future employment should be at the discretion of the University and faculty and should not be a matter for the California legislature to even consider, much less enforce. 


Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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