Following up on my previous posts:
Vermont Digger, Vermont Law School Restructuring Faculty:
More than a dozen faculty at Vermont Law School will lose tenure this year as the institution struggles to level its budget, two senior faculty members confirmed.
While many of the tenured faculty will remain at the school on contract, they will no longer have employment protections under tenure. The school is negotiating terms with each affected member of the faculty this week before the fiscal year ends Friday, the sources confirmed. Some contract faculty have not been given renewal offers; others have been encouraged to retire.
President Thomas McHenry was tight-lipped about the nature of the reductions in an interview last week, including the number of faculty who would not be returning to the school, saying it was a personnel matter. The school employs about 60 faculty, 20 of which are tenure positions. “We are restructuring the faculty into different positions — some of those people are tenure,” McHenry said. “Some of those people will no longer be tenure.” ...
VLS Board of Trustees chair Colleen Connor emphasized the school’s need to adapt to the changing market. “As difficult as this process is, we feel confident in the end Vermont Law School will be a stronger, more vibrant institution that is sustainable in the long term and that continues to meet our mission of an exceptional legal education, producing leaders, and being a preeminent environmental law school,” said Connor in a statement.
McHenry, who became president and dean of the Vermont Law School a year ago, said the restructuring will right size the law school and address ongoing deficits. “The restructuring we’re doing is aiding us in having a sustainable financial model,” McHenry said. “We are looking for every efficiency we can find.”
The Vermont Law School has faced financial problems over the past five years. In 2013, VLS eliminated two tenure positions under former president Marc Mihaly. Four tenure faculty positions and four contract positions were also reduced from full time to part time that year. Those cuts reduced the operating budget by about $4 million, bringing it down to $23 million. ...
One senior professor said faculty were required to sign nondisclosure agreements, eliminating their ability to speak about the status of their positions.
Anita Levy, a senior program officer at American Association of University Professors, said three Vermont Law School professors called her office over the past 10 days, saying their positions had been cut. “We are monitoring the situation,” Levy said. “From our point of view, the termination of tenure is a very serious matter.” ...
The nature of the restructuring efforts, however, could violate American Association of University Professors policies, Levy said. The association makes recommendations for institutions to follow to protect academic freedom. One of those policies is to allow faculty to participate in decisions and be allowed due process when positions or programs are at risk due to financial reasons.