ULS Tenure Update

Here’s the latest on the tenure issue at the University of Louisiana System (ULS).

Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) has obtained a copy of an email from Dr. Anna Hill, Faculty Senate President at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM).

Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2010 11:17 AM

Dear ULM Faculty,

As you may be aware of by now, the UL Board of Supervisors opted to delay voting on any revisions to Board policy regarding tenure and program elimination/reduction until their October meeting.

Over the summer, Dr. Donna Rhorer, Chair of the Faculty Advisory Council and ULM Faculty Senator, worked diligently to gather and compile input from faculty of all 8 UL system universities. Donna did an amazing job, and Friday morning, Donna, other members of the FAC, and other faculty, testified at the UL Board of Supervisors meeting, presenting a convincing case that the proposed revisions, as written, would do great harm to higher education in Louisiana.

Though the battle was won during the Board meeting the morning of August 27, the job is far from over. All indications are that the Board will vote on very similar revisions to the policies at their October or December meeting. Board members and Dr. Moffett said that they were open to faculty input, but all indications are that the amount of input they are open to is very limited. Suggestions must allow them to deal with possible massive funding cuts alluded to in the “budget exercise” that state agencies have been required to conduct (up to 35%).

Very likely, some form of shortened timelines for notification of termination in the event of program elimination/reduction will remain in the proposed revisions. We have some opportunity for input on notification timelines. Though we would probably all prefer that the provision disappear, the Board appears immovable on removing the introduced provision of “program reduction” from the revisions. Based on what was said by members of the UL Board in their committee meetings on Thursday and Friday, our best hope of altering those proposed changes is tightening up the terms, definitions, and/or process of “program reduction” so that program reduction cannot be abused to dismiss tenured faculty without cause and without due process.

We need rapid input from faculty for suggested specific wording to help us tighten up these clauses to help prevent abuse of program reduction. FAC representatives have an opportunity to meet with Board representatives and attorneys Friday, September 10 to work on policy language revision. If you no longer have a copy of the revisions that are currently being considered by the Board, a copy with line numbers is available here – Proposed Revisions to ULS Board Policy.

Please provide specific suggested wording for these policies that might help us preserve the rights of tenure so that tenured faculty can continue to stand up for the rights of ALL faculty and staff. We need your feedback by the end of the day, Wednesday, September 8, so that we can compile them prior to the Friday meeting. Please refer to specific line numbers within the document or section title (e.g. Tenure, Termination, or Academic Program Reduction and/or Discontinuance) and subsection. Otherwise, finding the correct insertion point for your suggested revisions will be exceedingly difficult.

I know the timeline is very tight, but if we do not present the Board with what they consider “reasonable options” within the next couple of weeks, given the timeline that the Board operates on for submitting and considering policy, the revisions that threaten the foundations of tenure and higher education in Louisiana will likely be passed as written at the Board’s October meeting.

Additionally, the Board says that it is open to ideas that might help universities avoid or minimize program reductions and faculty layoffs. Some suggestions floated by some of the faculty members that attended the Board meeting in Baton Rouge included offering the incentivized retirement option again and asking faculty if they would be willing to accept the option of university-wide furloughs for those making salaries above a minimum amount (to include administrators).

I know that this is a lot for everyone to digest all at once. The idea of faculty furloughs does not have to be resolved immediately, and if the concept were acceptable to faculty, provisions would have to be spelled out. I am simply presenting the idea for discussion right now. However, the matter will need to be resolved, either yeah or nay, fairly soon.

Thank you in advance for your efforts on everyone’s behalf.

Anna M. Hill, Ph.D., ULM Faculty Senate President

See earlier news stories on the issue here.

Tenure Policy Change on ULS Board Agenda

ULS Proposals Would Significantly Weaken Tenure

ULS Tenure Vote Delayed

Administrative Bloat at Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education

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