Lawsuit challenges University of Arkansas tenure policy: ‘Mao-ist attack on free speech’

Max Brantley:

Revisions in the University of Arkansas tenure policy that many faculty believe serve as a curb on free speech were challenged in a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

The class action suit is led by Dr. Philip Palade, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Dr. Gregory Borse, an associate professor of English and philosophy at the University of Arkansas at Monticello; and J. Thomas Sullivan, a distinguished professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law. Attorneys for Plaintiffs are Joseph W. Price II and Brittany Ford with Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull in Little Rock.

Jessie Stiller:

The new policy expands the definition of “cause” to encompass not only the “willingness or ability” of a faculty member to perform his duties but also “otherwise serves as the basis for disciplinary actions.”

The revised policy also “offers a list of 12 non-exclusive ‘grounds’ that are more than mere examples of conduct but broad and vague descriptions of conduct that constitute the necessary justification for any administrator to dismiss a faculty member for ‘cause.’”

These new changes include the following: