Paul L. Caron

Saturday, November 2, 2019

University Of Maryland To Restructure, Terminate Contracts Of 100 Faculty Who Can 'Recompete' For Their Jobs

Chronicle of Higher Education, Maryland’s Giant Global Campus Is Restructuring. And Professors Were Asked to ‘Recompete’ for Jobs.:

MarylandA major restructuring at the University of Maryland Global Campus has alarmed some faculty members after more than 100 employees were told that their current contracts would be terminated and that they would need to “recompete” for their jobs.

“Any way you go, it’s going to be tough,” Peter Smith, the campus’s interim chief academic officer, told The Chronicle of the transition. “It is a big change. But you can’t do it incrementally.”

The global campus, which used to be known as the University of Maryland University College, serves tens of thousands of students and is one of the nation's biggest players in distance learning. The institution focuses on educating adult students and veterans.

The new structure is necessary, Smith said, to prepare for the rest of the 21st century, as employer and adult-learner needs evolve, and to prepare for challenges to come, before it’s too late.

“Most colleges wait until they’re really in the soup,” Smith added. “We’re not even close to the soup.”

But some faculty members said that they and their colleagues had been stunned by what they considered an unwelcome and jarring announcement. It was devastating for some people who no longer felt secure in their employment, said three faculty members who spoke to The Chronicle on the condition of anonymity, because they did not want to harm their job prospects or their reputations.

On October 1, Javier Miyares, the university’s president, outlined the plan in an internal email that was obtained by The Chronicle. The Undergraduate School and the Graduate School will be replaced by three new schools, organized by discipline: the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology. The administrative arms of the university will be streamlined into four departments that are meant to better suit students’ and professors’ needs.

In the transition, faculty members will be added in certain disciplines, some job descriptions will change, and some positions will be eliminated, Miyares wrote. “I assure you that our goal is always to treat our colleagues with respect and dignity.”

That day and the next, the university held meetings to spell out details of the plan. Some employees were slotted directly into the new structure.

But 108 people learned that their existing contracts with the Undergraduate and Graduate Schools would be terminated because the schools will no longer exist next year, after the realignment is completed. They were told they’d need to apply for jobs in the new structure, called the “future state.” They had until October 10 to “recompete,” meaning reapply for functionally the same job, for a different job, or for multiple jobs, if they wanted.

Most of the 108 employees are program chairs or collegiate faculty members, who are appointed under annual or multiyear contracts with annualized salaries, according to the university’s website. The vast majority of faculty members at the university are adjuncts.

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