At a Friday evening meeting, the University of Texas System regents unanimously backed the administration of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the wake of a challenge from the American Association of University Professors over the institution's handling of faculty.
AAUP, a major national faculty organization, is investigating a tenure dispute at MD Anderson. Its findings, which are expected to be released next year, could lead to the institution being added to the group's list of censured administrations.
The list largely serves as a warning to other academics. According to the AAUP website, the list "is published for the purpose of informing Association members, the profession at large, and the public that unsatisfactory conditions of academic freedom and tenure have been found to prevail at these institutions."
As reported by the Houston Chronicle, MD Anderson administrators have kept the group's investigators at arm's length and have refused to personally meet with them.
In a motion approved on Friday, the board voiced support for "the position taken by UT MD Anderson in response to the recent challenge to the institution's implementation of policies approved by the board."
It also voted to confirm its continued support for the institution's atypical approach to tenure, which must be renewed every seven years, noting that "the award of term tenure has helped to successfully elevate the institution to international recognition and success in delivering the best possible treatment and prevention against cancer."
After approving that motion, the board spent significantly more time discussing a motion of support for the University of Texas at Austin's head football coach, Charlie Strong.
Strong's strict adherence to a system of five core values — be honest, treat women with respect, no drugs, no guns and no stealing — has resulted in the dismissal of multiple players from the football team. It has also attracted the attention of embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The regents unanimously approved a motion praising Strong for his "unwavering commitment to teaching, cultivating, supporting and demanding outstanding character, strong moral fiber and high score values in the young men he is charge to lead and teach."
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