Press Releases | Hiring Bias

UC Must Systematically Review Hiring Procedures

September 14, 2007

IRVINE, CA—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has called on the University of California Board of Regents to undertake a systematic review of the integrity of the academic hiring process and intellectual diversity at UC.

ACTA’s request, made in a letter to the board, comes in response to UC Irvine chancellor Michael Drake’s decision this week to revoke his offer to Dr. Erwin Chemerinsky to head the new UC Irvine law school. The decision has drawn widespread criticism and has opened UC Irvine to claims that its hiring process is flawed and driven by inappropriate political considerations.

“UC needs to get its act together,” ACTA president Anne D. Neal said today in response to the chancellor’s decision. “Universities must encourage and foster opposing viewpoints. When—as here—administrative actions suggest that the university is averse to the robust exchange of ideas, corrective action is in order.”

ACTA’s report Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action shows how trustees and administrators can protect academic freedom and ensure free inquiry on campus. Among other things, it recommends that institutions take steps such as:

A review of hiring and promotion practices to ensure that quality of research and teaching—not ideological litmus tests—are the criteria for job security;

An institutional self-study to assess how well the university is living up to the principles of intellectual diversity;

A public call for diversity of viewpoints in panels and lecture series; and

Inclusion of intellectual diversity concerns in faculty teaching guidelines and student course evaluation forms.

“ACTA calls upon the UC Regents to address the controversy at Irvine by initiating a systematic review of the integrity of the academic hiring process at UC—as well as an examination of intellectual diversity generally,” Neal said. “Such action is necessary if UC is to retain the public trust.”

UC would not be the first major public university to undertake a review. Last year, the University of Colorado system announced that CU would examine internal procedures at both the hiring and performance review levels to ensure that academic, rather than ideological, considerations govern personnel decisions.

“It is imperative that higher education leaders undertake the necessary work of self-examination,” said Neal. “There are many lawmakers at the state and federal level willing to intervene if they do not do so.”

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. ACTA has a network of trustees and alumni around the country, including those from the University of California. ACTA has issued numerous reports on higher education, including The Vanishing Shakespeare, How Many Ward Churchills, Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, and Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.


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