While the Senate passed legislation removing tenure for new faculty at Texas colleges, House lawmakers instead approved a watered-down measure to institute tenure restrictions.

One of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s priorities, Senate Bill 18 in its original form would have prohibited the practice of awarding tenure at public universities—effective January 1, 2024. 

Upon the bill’s passage from the Senate, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick denounced the entitlement exhibited by some tenured professors within the past year. 

He specifically cited a resolution adopted by the University of Texas Faculty Council in February 2022, which stated that they rejected any attempts to “restrict or dictate the content of university curriculum on any matter, including matters related to racial and social justice,” and that they would “stand firm against any and all encroachment on faculty authority including by the legislature or the Board of Regents.”

“Over the past year, it has become abundantly clear that some tenured faculty at Texas universities feel immune to oversight from the Legislature and their respective board of regents. These professors claim ‘academic freedom’ and hide behind their tenure to continue blatantly advancing their agenda of societal division,” said Patrick. “This behavior must not be tolerated.”

However, the measure was noticeably weakened after working its way through the House Committee on Higher Education, only attempting to standardize procedures rather than end the practice.

State Rep. Harold Dutton (D–Houston) acknowledged alongside House Sponsor for SB 18 John Kuempel (R–Seguin) that the House’s version of SB 18 changes very little about the current system and definitely does not ban tenure.

Nevertheless, Democrat lawmakers  railed against even the weakened House version of the bill.

State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) attempted to strengthen the measure with an amendment requiring tenure to be evaluated annually, but the amendment was withdrawn following a point of order. 

After numerous Democrat amendments attempted to further weaken the measure, it passed in a vote of 83-61. 

Now, it must be reconciled with the Senate’s original bill during a conference committee. Afterwards, both chambers must approve the final version before it can move to the governor’s desk. 

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.