Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Kansas Regents Make It Easier To Fire Tenured Professors

Chronicle of Higher Education, Kansas Regents Make It Easier to Dismiss Tenured Professors:

Kansas (2021)Kansas’ Board of Regents voted unanimously on Wednesday to create a process by which the state’s six public universities can more expeditiously suspend and fire employees, including tenured faculty members.

It’s an extreme move, Shane Bangerter, one of nine board members, acknowledged, but one that he felt was “absolutely necessary,” given how Covid-19 has depressed higher education’s finances. The temporary change, which will expire in December 2022, gives greater flexibility to university leaders, other regents argued. It’s meant to be just one arrow in their quiver to deal with budget retrenchment.

Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn, an associate professor of music at Wichita State University and president of its Faculty Senate, offered a different image. Approving the policy, he told the regents, is like cracking a nut with a sledgehammer.

It’ll harm faculty morale, hamper recruiting, and basically suspend tenure for the time being, he said. He and other faculty observers said they worried that the temporary policy would later become permanent, undercutting faculty stability well into a post-Covid era. ...

Under previous board policy, a state university had to “formally recognize a financial exigency that required elimination of nontenured positions and operating expenditures,” the Kansas Reflector reported. Under those circumstances, an institution could reduce its tenured ranks.

Now, under the new policy, employees can be suspended or terminated even if a university has not declared financial exigency or begun that process

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The Fight for the University of Kansas, by Ani Kokobobo (Kansas):

The Board of Regents is working to weaken tenure. But all is not yet lost. ...

In a open letter with more than [950] signatures so far, we’re standing up to say no to a “solution” that will permanently ravage our institution. The letter signers are tenured and untenured faculty members, staffers, graduate students, and even some administrators. We represent a broad coalition of advisers, administrative associates, university-press workers, engineers, social scientists, humanists, STEM scholars, doctors, and practically all of the university distinguished professors. We are individuals who have made our careers at this university, investing our abilities to serve our students.

A Solidarity Statement has garnered over 6,600 signature.

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