college lecture hall

Today, PEN America and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a joint letter to the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Education Board of Trustees (IHL) opposing recent changes to the tenure award process for faculty at the eight Mississippi public universities. Among the new evaluation criteria are “are vague standards that seriously imperil faculty members’ expressive freedoms, including a candidate’s ‘[e]ffectiveness … and integrity in communications’ and ‘collegiality’,” write PEN America Senior Manager of Free Expression and Education Jeremy C. Young and FIRE Individual Rights Defense Program Director Alex Morey. “We call on the IHL Board of Trustees to remove these censorious provisions and ensure that faculty will not be subject to collegiality requirements or extramural speech restrictions when they are evaluated for tenure by university presidents.”

Read the full letter here, and learn more about PEN America’s work advocating for free speech in education.

Update: In response to the PEN America and FIRE letter, the organizations received a letter from Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education for the MS State Institutions of Higher Education Board of Trustees. You can read the response to that letter from PEN America and FIRE here