College professors consider leaving Texas due to political climate

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More than a quarter of nearly 2,000 surveyed college professors and faculty members said they are considering leaving Texas because of a dissatisfaction with the state of higher education. 

The survey, conducted by the American Association of University Professors and the Texas Faculty Association, comes after two controversial bills were passed impacting tenure and banning diversity, equity and inclusion offices. Both bills raised concerns regarding the recruitment and retention of Texas higher education faculty and efforts of censorship in Texas higher education.

Of the professors surveyed, 28.7% said they would interview at another institution and 19.1% have already interviewed for an out-of-state position since 2021. About two-thirds (63.3%) said they would not recommend Texas to colleagues.

The major concerns of those surveyed are tied to the political climate in Texas, salary, academic freedom and diversity. Around 40 percent listed tenure issues as a driving factor to leave the state, the survey found. 

Nearly half of surveyed faculty said they had noticed fewer applicants, while others said that they noticed that candidate applications pools are becoming worse. 

Senate Bill 17, which bans higher education diversity, equity and inclusion offices and diversity-related training and programs has been met with pushback from students and faculty. The University of Houston disbanded its diversity and LGBTQ offices to comply with the bill, but plan to open a Center for Student Advocacy and Community amid student protest.

OPEN DOORS: Rice University students open space to University of Houston LGBTQ population after anti-DEI law

Nearly two thirds of those surveyed said they would not recommend Texas faculty positions to those who are out of state. 

Survey results, collected between August and September, suggest one third of professors do not plan to remain in academia in the long term. For those hoping to leave the state, their main picks were California, New York and Colorado.

“These findings serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, administrators, employers, and other concerned citizens, emphasizing the urgent need to address the concerns raised by faculty members. Failure to do so may result in a significant exodus of faculty, challenges attracting academic talent, and an overall decline in the quality of higher education,” a statement published alongside the survey read.

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