West Virginia University: University Proposes Policies Stripping Tenure Protections and Limiting Faculty Speech


West Virginia University

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Case Overview

In September and October 2022, West Virginia University proposed changes to its policies on faculty evaluation, tenure, ethics, and conflicts of interest. The proposed amendments to its conflicts policy require faculty to obtain pre-approval from the university before participating as counsel, expert witnesses, or amici in legal proceedings adverse to WVU or the state. WVU’s draft revisions to its faculty appointment and evaluation policy significantly lower the bar for firing tenured faculty, providing they can be summarily terminated after just two “unsatisfactory” performance ratings, determined using vague criteria subject to abuse. The policy also applies WVU’s Employee Code of Conduct in the faculty evaluation criteria. On November 10, FIRE sent WVU a letter asking it to clarify the purpose, standards for approval, and intended application of the amended conflicts rule, and calling on it to reject the revised faculty evaluation and conflicts policies.