EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Texas Senate approved a bill on April 20 that would end faculty tenure at public universities. Tenure is defined as an appointment at an academic institution where the person can be terminated only for cause and extraordinary circumstances.

The bill passed 18-11 with Texas State Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, breaking from his fellow Democrats to support this measure with Republicans. KTSM spoke with Blanco about his reasoning behind his decision. He argued that the history of tenure is discriminatory against professors of color.

“These institutions, to this day, still fail on diversity equity and inclusion especially as it relates to tenure,” Blanco said.

This bill will affect professors at universities like UTEP and Texas Tech. Current tenured associate political science professor for UTEP Dr. Todd Curry agrees with Blanco that tenure is historically discriminatory and favors professors that are Caucasian.

However, he believes that UTEP does differ from other universities across the country.

“I would say at UTEP we have a very different experience where we have a very diverse faculty but at many institutions, yes, absolutely tenure is a detriment towards faculty of color,” Curry said.

New professors will be the ones who will not be offered tenure under this new bill. Those who are currently tenured will be grandfathered in.

Dr. Richard Pineda, another tenured professor from UTEP and chair of the Department of Communications, is concerned that Texas universities, especially UTEP, will have difficulty recruiting new faculty.

He believes that the university will be passed over if they are not able to offer tenured positions.

“When you’re talking about El Paso, it is often times challenging to get a full range of recruits to think about coming to El Paso and this is just one more thing that is going to have an impact. I believe a negative impact on our ability to recruit.”

This legislation heads to the Texas House for its approval.

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