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University of Colorado Faculty Council Privilege and Tenure records

Identifier: COU:2737


  • 1966 - 2005

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This collection contains private or personally identifiable informatin (PPII) that is protected by Colorado Open Records law. It is CLOSED for research use. Please contact for more information

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Conditions Governing Use

Researchers may not make notes, reproductions (including photographs), or other record of any private and personally identifiable information (PPII) located in this collection and may not publish, publicize, or disclose that PPII to any other party for any purpose. Exclusions may apply to researchers who have obtained authorization from the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board to produce human subject research records in de-identified form. All researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement indicating their understanding of the use restrictions for PPII found in this collection. Contact

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Historical Note

The idea of tenure for professors employed by the University of Colorado was first documented in 1887. At that time, the Regents of the University of Colorado determined that tenure was to be at their sole discretion, and that faculty appointments were to be on a year-by-year basis. In the Statutes of the University of Colorado (the predecessor to the Laws of the Regents) during the first decades of the twentieth century, it was further defined that any appointment of instructors was subject to the Board of Regents and the President, with the Committee of the Teachers, and that the possibility of tenure was either awarded or retracted at will. This convention was kept for over three decades, though pay increases did occur at regular intervals.

In the 1920s, the laws concerning tenure were broadened as part of a restructuring of the rapidly growing University. Ranks were introduced. Unlike the previous formality-based convention, tenure was defined based on the appointment level of the faculty member in question. Full professors were given the opportunity of full tenure, after a two year grace period, and assistant professors were given three-year blocks of tenure, following a one-year initial grace period; assistants and instructors’ tenure was kept as annual. At this time, the Statutes also included the first reference of the Privilege and Tenure Committee in an effort to make the tenure-obtainment process more objective, although that specific title had not yet been given. At this point in the history of the University, the committee in question was designed to only be created and utilized from the University Senate when necessary, giving the recently dismissed faculty member a chance to present his/her case to the committee. This committee would present their opinion to the Board of Regents before the Regents’ final decision was rendered. According to statute, “the privileges specified in this article shall not, however, be so exercised as to prevent prompt action.” This version of tenure for the University’s faculty was kept unchanged until 1955. After 1955, small changes appeared to further define the previously-set statutes. These updates included the addition of tenure being defined as “limited, indeterminate, or continuous” as a general clause and the previous laws in the Statutes being made Boulder-campus specific (the medical campus, still in its infancy, had less strict standards to uphold at this time).

During the 1950s, P&T laws were rewritten to further protect both the rights of the University and its professors, with the addition that terms and conditions of every appointment shall be determined, in writing, prior to any official appointment. These rewritten Laws were kept until 1966, with only minor changes being made to them as occasions necessitated. One of these changes was the enhancement of the powers of the Privilege and Tenure Committee. Although the Committee was still formed only at the request of the University Senate, it was now called the “Committee of Privilege and Tenure” and was to be involved with any case concerning a faculty member’s tenure. However, these Laws still did not protect the faculty members against most forms of contract termination.

In 1940, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) composed suggested guidelines concerning the tenure of all University Professors across the country, and in 1966 the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado accepted these guidelines as they redefined and strengthened their Privilege and Tenure policies. The previous Laws were modified to reflect the standards, rather than merely replacing them. Additional information was appended to the general conditions concerning the University’s position on tenure; however, tenure’s basis as continuous, limited, or indeterminate was kept. Specific conditions for Boulder professors’ tenure were drastically updated, as they were still based on the early 1920s system. The ranks of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, senior instructor, and instructor could hold continuous tenure, with tenure awarded after a maximum probationary period of seven years; however, service prior to July 1st, 1962, could not be counted towards the period. Following the addition of the AAUP standards, the Committee of Privilege and Tenure become a full subcommittee from the University Senate. This Committee was created to be a main source for grievance referrals, though the grievances were not required to be solely concerning reappointment, tenured appointment, and /or promotion.

Following the 1966 AAUP acceptance, the Laws of the Regents concerning tenure did not change considerably. Paper documentation through 1986 shows the major edits to the laws concerning privilege and tenure to be largely definitive. Clauses were added to further define both what might and might not constitute loss of tenure, in parallel with the broadening of definitions concerning an employee’s rights. Evaluations were added into the Laws as well, which provided non-tenured faculty a chance to be awarded tenure, and also allowed campus administration to ensure that the rank “Tenured” was not abused, but rather continually earned. The Committee on Privilege and Tenure was given the position of an appeals court, and was the recently-dismissed faculty member’s option to try to repeal recent unfavorable action. The Committee could also be used by the President or Campus Chancellor (after 1974) of the University of Colorado as a point of reference prior to handing out dismissals. The Privilege and Tenure Committee would then submit their results to the Board of Regents for finalization, who would recommend actions to the President and/or Campus Chancellor.

The 2012 version of the Laws of the Regents has redefined the maximum probationary period prior to receiving tenure and also has restricted tenure to professor and associate professor (though assistant professor, senior instructor, and instructor ranks could still receive tenure under highly exceptional circumstances). The Committee on Privilege and Tenure has been afforded more sway with the tenure process, which is outlined in the University Senate Constitution alongside the Laws of the Regents. However, the time available to submit grievances to the Committee has been shortened to 10 days, a considerable decrease from the 20 days in the mid-1980s or 30 days in the mid-1960s. Besides for the loss of tenure and possible accompanying dismissal, grievances can be filed both during and following the tenure-determining process; these grievances must be based on some form of violation of University Policy or the Laws of the Regents.


41 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Privilege and Tenure Committee is a constituent body of the Faculty Council that handles matters concerning faculty promotion and tenure at all campuses of the University of Colorado. In the University of Colorado’s history, tenure could be classified into two time periods: pre- and post-1966. Prior to 1966, the basis for tenure was discussed solely within the Board of Regents laws, existing as a concern of the Regents. Any documents related to pre-1966 tenure issues should be sought in the Regents’ Minutes and University of Colorado President’s Office Papers. After 1966 the Regents accepted the 1940 AAUP Proposal for Academic Freedom. It appears that the Privilege and Tenure Committee’s records date after the mid-1960s. The Collection contains specific P&T case files spanning 1966–2005, as well as internal Privilege and Tenure Committee communication.

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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States