Kansas Suspends Tenure Protections


The Kansas Board of Regents yesterday approved a measure that, according to a faculty member representing the Council of Faculty Senate Presidents in Kanasas, “basically suspends tenure for a year” at public institutions of higher education in Kansas, “and sets a dangerous precedent for doing so again in the future.”

The measure, approved unanimously by the Regents, states:

In light of the extreme financial pressures placed on the state universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, decreased program and university enrollment, and state fiscal issues, effective immediately through December 31, 2021 and notwithstanding any other Board or institutional
policy, any state university employee, including a tenured faculty member, may be suspended, dismissed, or terminated from employment by their respective university.

The administration at each university is tasked by the policy to create a “framework for the university’s decision-making” within 45 days that will lay down the criteria and procedures used for any suspensions, dismissals, or terminations, though the policy does require that anyone terminated receive (at least) 30 days’ written notice, and decisions are appealable.

You can view the whole document below (and hhere), and there’s an article about the policy and reaction to it in the Lawrence Journal-World.

(via Dale Dorsey)


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Jonathan Ichikawa
6 months ago

this is a tremendous threat to academic freedomReport

Dale Dorsey
Dale Dorsey
6 months ago

The decisions are appealable, but only directly to the Regents. Also faculty face the burden of proof with no right of discovery. And the only grounds for appeal is inconsistency with the stated “framework”.Report

Dale Dorsey
Dale Dorsey
6 months ago

Also, the final approval stipulates that it ru a through 12/2022, so two years.Report

Matt
6 months ago

Without having looked at the relevant contracts (and handbooks that are no doubt incorporated into the individual contracts) I can’t say with 100% certainty, but this certainly looks like one side is purporting to have the power to unilaterally alter a contract to its benefit. That’s not how contracts work, of course. As in so many cases, the practical problem will be having the resources to fight a breach of contract claim, and getting appropriate and sufficient compensation, but it seems on its face to be a straight-forward case, perhaps even an anticipatory breach. Report

Chris Surprenant
6 months ago

Do I read this right? Did they just declare financial exigency for every university? Good luck with that. I’d love to see them try fire a tenured faculty member, have that faculty member sue citing continuation of a D1 sports program or something else along those lines, and see what happens when it gets to a court.Report

Dale Dorsey
Dale Dorsey
6 months ago

Chris – not quite. This policy is saying that tenured faculty can be fired without declaring financial exigency.Report

Chris Surprenant
6 months ago

Dale, yes, thank you, I misread it. Now it’s even more bizarre. I’m not sure how they can unilaterally change a very specific provision of an employment contract like this.Report

Mitch Summerlin
Mitch Summerlin
6 months ago

Will they dissolve any diversity or —- Studies programs? Will they terminate any administrators? Will they abolish football to save money?
I didn’t think so.
Report

Alan White
Alan White
6 months ago

Welcome to Wisconsin!Report

K Stone
K Stone
6 months ago

This will allow them to fire anyone they don’t like saying that they don’t meet the expectations on publishing, getting grants, getting along with administration or such. They are going to find a reason and work out the “consistency” plan that will be hard to fight single handadly by a poor professor. Report

Kansan
Kansan
6 months ago

This is in addition to the fact that the Board of Regents recently added a “Strategic Realignment Process” that, much like program review, is supposed to make sure that state colleges are getting rid of low-enrollment majors or majors that overlap with other existing majors. One more tool for those in power to use to turn education into job training.

https://www.kansas.com/news/local/education/article248478615.htmlReport