a work in progress, based on the work of Walter Metzger and the late William J. Davis.

10/24/98 draft

1650 Harvard charter incorporates tutors as “Fellows” of the corporation
1696-1700 New charters proposed for Harvard College that limit term of Fellows (and ipso facto Tutors) to seven years, with the option of renewal
1701 At Yale, Trustees agree that the rector and masters shall continue in office “quamdium bene se gesseriut” (during good behavior)
1707 At Harvard, the Corporation began restricting its fellowships to “senior” tutors (and appointing the rest without Corporate Fellow status)


At Harvard, the Corporation passes a rule that “all Tutors, now or hereafter chosen” shall hold their position for no longer than three years,”except continued by a new election” [the first “term” appointment]



Donor of Hollis Professorship specifies grounds for termination as “want of ability to execute the trust or misbehavior in the office or immoral and scandalous behavior out of it”



Edward Wigglesworth appointed to first Professorship in America [Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard] with NO time limit [indefinite appointment]



William and Mary completes hiring of first faculty and instruction begins



At Harvard, the Corporation and the Board of Overseers agree to three year term of appointment for tutors



Yale’s second charter specifies that dismissal was now allowable for cause, i.e. “any misdemeanor, …….. default or incapacity”



At Kings College, first charter leaves open whether faculty would hold office “during good behavior” or “at will of the Governors”



Naphtali Daggett appointed Yale’s first Professor [of Divinity]



At Princeton, professors achieve numerical parity with tutors [ 3 each]



In Bracken v. Visitors of William and Mary, Virginia Court refuses to accept argument that professors have a “freehold” in their office as members of the Corporation; rather “the will of the Visitors is decisive” in dismissing a professor without a trial



William and Mary appoints its first Professor



At Harvard, number of professors for first time reaches parity with number of tutors[5 each]; two separate career tracks

At Yale, two tutors, Benjamin Silliman and Jeremiah Day, “promoted” from tutor to professorships [first such promotions] giving professors near numerical parity with tutors [while only 1/10 Yale tutors subsequently appointed to professorships in 18th century, all six Yale professors served first as tutors]

At Brown, three professors had joined the five tutors [about 1/5 tutors in 18th century went on later to professorships, albeit less than half of Brown professors were former tutors]

Who were professors? Typically went into college teaching from a career in ministry, medecine, law; typically pursued an institutional career at their alma mater; average tenure by turn of 19th century was in generations 30-40 years); half “died in office”; only ¼ left to pursue another career


Harvard appoints first “instructor” (as distinguished from tutors and professors); over next generation almost none come from tutorships nor move into professorships

New York legislature’s new charter for Columbia College provided that ” teachers were to hold their offices at the pleasure of the Trustees” [dropping the requirement for cause and a hearing]


Professors outnumber tutors at Harvard and Yale by 10:6; at Brown, by 3:1

Professors outnumber instructors at Harvard by 10:5


Yale appoints first instructor; only four others appointed over next generation

Francis Gilmer return to US with five professors recruited for first University of Virginia faculty

Harvard faculty “temporarily” reorganized into academic departments (the Ticknor Plan)

1828 In Murdoch v. Visitors of Theological Institute of Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts Supreme Court held that while deferring to the Board on one charge, three other charges against a professor did NOT justify dismissal [seemingly suggesting that substantive bases of dismissal were open to challenge]

Henry Rodgers appointed first Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at University of Pennsylvania [non-salaried!]

First assistant professor appointed at Brown; few additional until 1890s

At Yale, tutors first assigned to departments of instruction

1842 First assistant professor appointed at Yale; only four more such appointments in the next three decades
1843 First instructor appointed at University of Michigan; few other such appointments until the 1870s
1844 Brown appoints first instructor; few additional until 1860s; tutors disappear
1846 Harvard establishes two new professorships [agricultural chemistry and chemistry]
1856 Professor Benjamin Hedrick dismissed from University of North Carolina for supporting US presidential candidacy of John Fremont
1857 First assistant professor appointed at University of Michigan; few additional appointments until 1880s
1858 Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin, acting according to by-laws that require profesors to be elected at each annual meeting, terminate all faculty contracts
1860 At Harvard, the Corporation limits the total time one can serve as a tutor to Eight years
 1860-1914 Only six of 68 dismissals at 122 institutions preceded by a hearing

One quarter of Harvard instructors/assistant professor “promoted” to full professorships;

One third of Yale instructors/assistant professors “promoted” to full professorships

Junior faculty begin leaving their first employers for better jobs/promotions elsewhere

1867 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents declare that the “terms of office of every officer of the University” are to be continued “at pleasure, unless otherwise expressly provided”
1868 At Cornell, Board of Trustees adopts policy of offering annual contracts, renewable unless it was “displeased”
1869 Courses at Harvard listed for time by department rather than by class

Majority of junior faculty [instructors, assistant professors] are “promoted” to professorships at Harvard, Yale, Brown and Michigan

At Harvard, rule is adopted that all professors appointed without express limitation of time could be dismissed for “inadequate performance of duty and misconduct”

1878 In Mudge v. Board of Regents of Kansas State Agricultural College, Kansas Supreme Court rules that Regents must abide by by-laws requiring three month notice prior to dismissal despite the legislative statute granting absolute discretion to the Board

Harvard offers first sabbatical leave; junior faculty “outnumber” full professors by 8:5

Junior faculty attain numerical parity with full professors at Michigan and Brown; at Michigan, majority were working on, or had completed, their doctoral degree

1881 Fifteen of Dartmouth’s resident faculty petition Board of Trustees for removal of President Bartlett (over faculty academic appointment prerogatives)
1892 In McAuliffe vs. Mayer of New Bedford [29NE517], Justice Holmes establishes the “privilgee doctrine” that certain governmentally bestowed advantages, e.g. employment, are not rights, but rather privileges that may be granted or withdrawn for any reason [effectively blocking state university faculty from judicial review in cases of dismissal]
1894 In Gillan v. Board of Regents of Normal Schools, 88 Wisconsin 7, state Court ruled that the plenary powers granted the Board of Regents absolved it of any obligation to offer teachers a pre-dismissal hearing
1898 In Kelsey v. New York Medical School, state appellate court rules that conflicting by-laws requirements in cases of dismissal are to be resolved in favor of the “pleasure of the Board” as ultimate principle
1899 In DeVol v. Board of Regents of the University of Arizona, state Court rules that statute giving the Board of Regents the power to dismiss “when in their judgement the interests of the University required it” laid a positive obligation on the Board Not to delay for even three months , or any period, “Which would be in direct violation of the interests of the institution as the legislature has created it ” [this ruling contradicted Mudge, v. supra 1878, and came to set the law]
1901 In Hartigan vs. Board of Regents of West Virginia University, Court rules that it does NOT have the right to exercise judicial review over judgements of a Board of Regents
1910 Van Hise survey of 22 AAU members reports that NONE made all faculty subject to annual appointments, although most did so for rank of instructor

Cornell reports that while faculty appointments are technically for one year, “it is the established policy of the University that a man once installed continues indefinitely”

Sanderson survey of 43 land grant colleges reports only two with strict one year appointment policies

1915 AAUP issues General Report on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure setting down rules for “fair procedures” in dismissal cases
1925 AAUP issues 1925 Conference Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure establishing the “desirability” of pre-dismissal hearings and consultation with department faculty; recognizes summary dismissals by the Board in cases of “gross immorality or treason, when the facts are admitted;” distinguishes between privileges of long term, indefinite vs. short-term appointments [no rank criterion]

First “dry promotions” (without salary increase) made by campuses in response to Great Depression

Several colleges assign full-load faculty to “part-time” salaried positions

1940 AAUP issues its 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure positing a seven year probationary period [i.e. setting a timeline to regulate institutional decisionmaking re: term vs. tenured appointments] which could count service at other institutions

Bailey vs. Richardson [182F2nd 46] upholds “privilege doctrine” for public employees

Part-time faculty appointments at the rank of instructor or above reach _____%


US Supreme Court in Slochower vs. Board of Higher Education [350US 551] strikes down statute permitting dismissal of a teacher for exercising his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination as a “violation of due process,” effectively challenging/superceding the “privilege doctrine”


AAUP issues its 1958 Conference Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, including specification of procedural standards in faculty dismissal hearings

In Worzella vs. Board of Regents [93 NW 2nd 411], Court upholds dismissal of tenured professor for “insubordination” by South Dakota State College without statement of charges,notice or hearing

1969 Part-time faculty reach 25% of all appointments at rank of instructor or above
1972 In Roth vs. Board of Regents [92 S.CT. 2694], Supreme Court rejects “privilege doctrine,” that public employment was a “privilege” that could be retracted without infringing on 14th amendment protections

Please contact Professor Martin J. Finkelstein at Seton Hall University for more information about this work in progress.



Davis, William J. A Timeline for the Development of Higher Education in America. Stillwater: Oklahoma State University, 1976.

Finkelstein, Martin J. “From Tutor to Specialized Scholar: Academic Professionalization in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century America.” History of Higher Education Annual 3 (1983): 99-121.

Metzger, Walter P. “Academic Tenure in America: A Historical Essay.” In: Commission on Academic Tenure in Higher Education. Faculty Tenure. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1973.


Also, for more information about AAUP Statements, contact:
American Association of University Professors
1012 Fourteenth Street, NW, Suite #500
Washington, DC 20005