Academic Freedom and Tenure: Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge: A Supplementary Report on a Censured Administration 1

By Reichman, Henry | Academe, July/August 2016 | Go to article overview

Academic Freedom and Tenure: Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge: A Supplementary Report on a Censured Administration 1


Reichman, Henry, Academe


This supplementary report concerns actions taken by the administration of Louisiana State University to dismiss for cause a specialist in early childhood education with a consistently positive eighteen-year performance record during the period in which she was a candidate for promotion to full professor.

Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure informed the Association's 2014 annual meeting that only one significant policy matter (affording the protections of academic due process to senior full-time faculty members serving outside the tenure system) remained unresolved with respect to the censure it had imposed two years earlier and that prospects for a prompt resolution seemed good. The annual meeting accordingly delegated to the committee authority to remove the censure if LSU adopted the desired new policy by the time of the committee's next meeting in the fall. By October, however, it had become apparent that the LSU administration was not going to act on the matter. In a February 2015 letter, Dr. F. King Alexander, who holds the dual positions of president of the LSU system and chancellor of the system's flagship university in Baton Rouge, thanked the Association for "its time and interest in working with LSU" but stated that "at this time, LSU does not plan to pursue any further action regarding removal of censure." In response, the AAUP's staff wrote, "Please . . . do get back to us once you see fit to resume discussion." Communication promptly resumed-not about the censure directly, however, but rather about the case of Dr. Teresa K. Buchanan described in this report.

Professor Buchanan earned bachelor's and master's degrees at LSU and, in 1993, a doctorate at Purdue University. Her faculty experience began at LSU, where she worked as a teaching assistant for two years, and Purdue, where she was a research assistant for three. Four years at the University of Central Arkansas followed, the first three as an instructor and the fourth as an assistant professor. She returned to LSU as an assistant professor in 1995 and was promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure in 2001.

As a member of the College of Human Sciences and Education in the School of Education, Professor Buchanan focused her scholarship on what she calls developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood education. For her teaching she was assigned the task of creating a new teacher education program (the LSU PK-3) encompassing prekindergarten through grade three. She was highly productive, both as a scholar and as a teacher. While still an assistant professor, she published eleven refereed articles, two of them in top-tier journals, and her years as an associate professor witnessed thirteen additional peer-reviewed articles, six in leading journals. During the seven years that she spearheaded the Early Childhood Program, as it was called at the time, several graduates of the program received various honors, such as "teacher of the year," from their schools during their first year of teaching. Professor Buchanan's evaluations agreed that, in addition to her outstanding performance in scholarship and teaching, her record of participation in university service was excellent.

The candidacy of Associate Professor Buchanan for a full professorship, which would have been effective with the start of academic year 2015-16, began with her formulating a "statement for promotion" in spring 2013. The director of the School of Education, Dr. Earl H. Cheek, solicited outside reviews during the summer, and all responses were favorable. The members of the school's Promotion and Tenure Committee eligible to vote on her candidacy were its seven full professors. Following an October 7 meeting, chair Petra Munro Hendry reported a favorable committee vote. On November 1 the eligible members of the Dean's Advisory Committee in the College of Human Sciences and Education met to review her case and submitted a favorable vote. The dean, Dr. …

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