On Disloyalty

ACADEME BLOG

In 1927, Professor Louis R. Gottschalk resigned his position at the University of Louisville to protest the dismissal of his colleague Rolf Johannesen. Simultaneously with his resignation, Gottschalk wrote to the AAUP to request an investigation of Johannesen’s dismissal. The newly-installed president, George Colvin, justified the dismissal by citing Johannesen’s reluctance to sign the one-year contract that was being issued to all faculty by the board of trustees at the president’s behest. These contracts replaced the informal understanding at the institution that faculty had permanent tenure following a brief probationary period and thus raised concerns that tenure had become less secure at the institution. Regulating tenure by informal understanding was still a relatively common practice in 1927. The process of formalizing the concept of tenure in US higher education had taken an important early step only two years earlier with the 1925 Conference Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the precursor…

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