Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday roundup

A couple of--surprise!--troubling news stories.

The Chronicle has a story on a professor of "Justice Studies" at Northeastern Illinois, Loretta Capeheart, who argues that she has been retaliated against for public criticism of the university.  Capeheart is now appealing a lower federal court ruling against her, which held that as her criticism was within her official duties, as the court saw them, the university could discipline her for speaking out. The AAUP has called the lower court decision "chilling", and rightly so, it seems to me.  While the professor wasn't fired or demoted (the retaliation consisted in denying her the chair's position in her department, despite gaining the support of department faculty, and denying her a faculty excellence award she was apparently entitled to), I don't see why the logic employed by the lower court couldn't justify firing. One moral: the courts may well not protect your free speech rights.  That's why contractual tenure protection is so vital.  Perhaps I have been too naive in not fearing retaliation. 

Another chilling story, flagged for me by Jonathan Bean, discusses how a Rhode Island city has to put its bond-holders ahead of its pensioners. That is, when declaring bankruptcy, it gutted pensions for retirees, while guaranteeing payments for bondholders. Plutocracy in a rather naked form, it seems to me. Scary quotes after the break.

All the city promises now is that its retirees, many of whom do not get Social Security [note: like most SIUC employees], will not have their benefits cut to less than $10,000 a year. . . .
Illinois has some of the strongest bondholder protections anywhere, which explains how a state that began its fiscal year with $3.8 billion in unpaid bills from last year — and whose pension system has less than half of the money it needs — is able to keeping selling bonds.
State law requires Illinois to make “an irrevocable and continuing appropriation” of tax revenues into a special fund every month that can be used only to pay bondholders. Illinois’s pension system claims to have a “continuous appropriation” too, but it does not have meaningful deadlines and has proved much more porous over the years.


  1. Dave,

    Without disagreeing with your take on the subject matter here, I will take issue with one aspect of your post. The term "contractual tenure protection".

    Tenure is not defined by the contract between the FA and the Administration. It never has been, and arguably never should be. Tenure existed at SIU before the FA existed, and if the FA were to be decertified (a distinct possibility in the current campus climate), and hence contracts with it were nullified, tenure would not, and should not, cease to exist.

    I am well aware that FA supporters will immediately jump on this post claiming that the imposed terms void tenure etc etc etc. I have heard that oft-repeated claim and regard it as FA propaganda and scare tactics. True believers will, of course, disagree, but that is not the point I wish to make and I choose to to rehash that subject which has been discussed on other threads.

    The point is this: the contract is not the place for tenure to be defined and it *should not* be the place where tenure is defined (or protected). Such protections properly lie in the Universitiy's governing documents, including the regulations etc of the BOT. The FA contracts (and possibly the FA itself?) are far too ephemeral for an issue of such importance to be defined there.

  2. I wish we could vote to decertify the administration.

  3. Anonymous 9:24 raises an important point: that little word "contractual" makes a huge difference.


If we could go back to the status quo ante, in which the contract was almost entirely silent on the status of tenure, but all could reasonably assume that it retained its traditional status, we'd all be happier. But, as we've seen, the BOT can change its rules at its sole discretion, as it did when allowing for "unpaid administrative closure days". I can imagine arguments against spelling out tenure protections in a contract, but now that the university has both imposed terms easing Faculty layoffs and thus undermining tenure (though I agree that one can debate just how serious that undermining is) and made a major change to board policy ("unpaid administrative closures"), I think tenure has been called into question, and even getting back to the status quo ante will require some sort of contractual agreement. 

    Anonymous' only articulated argument for keeping tenure in the BOT terms strikes me as being without substance. Unless you've got a successful decertification vote planned for the near future, a union contract is a vastly more stable protection of tenure than a BOT policy that can be changed any time Poshard and Cheng decide it needs to be changed. Even were the union to go under, this wouldn't undermine tenure protections the union had fought for--we'd just revert to the state of affairs anonymous urges, in which the status of tenure is determined by the BOT.


The FA has a strong & reasonable proposal to protect tenure on the bargaining table. The Chancellor claims she supports tenure as traditionally understood. There ought to be a way to bridge this divide, if both sides are serious. One possible compromise would be contractualization of the current board policy--a sentence saying that the board will not change its policies on tenure during the life of the current contract. That would not protect tenure as certainly as the FA proposal would do, but it would represent progress--or, rather, it would conserve tenure's prior status.


Most of the FA's basic principles are conservative in this sense. We want to retain the power to negotiate salaries. That's what unions do (among other things). We want to protect the tenure system. We faculty thought that tenure was something we could count on when we entered academia. This is not a radical agenda.

  4. I am not a member of either bargaining team but as I understand it, and I am sure someone will be more than happy to correct me if I am wrong (as to the facts)...

    (i) Only the BOT has the power to grant tenure and the BOT documents specify that T/TT faculty can only be laid off in a financial emergency.

    (ii) The BOT documents as they relate to tenure have not changed, and there is no proposal in place to do so.

    (iii) The FA's assertion that tenure has been attacked/eroded/(fill in your own choice of word here) is based on the provision in the current contract/imposed related to 30 days notice of layoffs. (Which means 30 days notice **in the event that a fiscal emergency has been declared.**)

    (iv) The falling out between the FA and the Administration on this point related to the circumstances under which a financial emergency can be declared, not the definition of tenure as such.

    If the rumor mill has correctly relayed the scuttlebutt, the FA offered two proposals (at least), they were: that a financial emergency could be declared if there were four consecutive years of declining budgets or that a financial emergency could be declared if an outside independent source agreed that such a condition existed.

    *IF* that info is correct then I can see why the Administration would not accept those terms.

    The proposal that an emergency only exists if there are multiple consecutive years of declining budgets is obviously absurd and barely deserves comment. Clearly if the State were to impose some sort of draconian cut (as has occurred elsewhere) then a crisis would result and it would simply be impossible to wait around for years before agreeing that such existed and taking action. No organization could ever agree to such terms (I would also note that the four years provision is a transparent effort to make sure that there would be at least one round of bargaining included.)

    The second option is also a non-starter because the BOT is legally responsible to the State or overall fiscal policy of the university and as such is responsible for making that determination and cannot delegate that responsibility to a third party, even if they wanted to.

    So, the issue is not an attack on tenure per se. The real issue here is that there is no agreement over the terms in which a fiscal emergency (that might force the university to layoff T/TT faculty) can be declared.

  5. I'm always happy to correct facts (and even opinions). But, as Anonymous 11:47 was pretty careful to do her/himself, I'll try to be clear about what is fact and what opinion. Looking into this matter has, alas, hardened my position: the BOT position is itself a threat to tenure, because it allows faculty to be laid off in conditions less than those of an outright financial exigency.

    We don't need to rely on rumors and scuttlebutt. The two sides' positions are both available online on the FA website, albeit buried in the "bargaining information" link to the left of the screen.

    Here is the FA "supposal" on "reduction in force"--the relevant contract language for tenure.

    And here is the administration's imposed language:

    And here are the BOT policies (scrolled down to section 2.C, for the most relevant section).

    Relevant here also is the AAUP language on tenure and financial exigency

    The FA "fact sheet" available at the address below (while it certainly contains opinions), is another source

    Let me now take 11:47's points in order.

    (i) Correct enough. Certainly only the BOT can award tenure. 11:47 carefully uses the term "financial emergency"--and rightly so. For while there is some vagueness in the board policy on this matter, BOT policies allow them to lay off faculty in either a (lesser, short term) "financial emergency" or in a long-term "financial exigency".

    (ii) As far as I know there is no plan to change Board policies (does 11:47 perhaps have good administrative sources who could confirm this?). But of course the BOT can change its policies at any time. There were evidently very substantial changes to the "financial emergency" language in 2003. "Unpaid administrative closures" were introduced last year. While the language of the Board Policy on what is allowed by financial emergency is vague, it seems to me that the introduction of the new category of "unpaid administrative closures" may well have itself been an attempt to get around the current board policy on tenure. That is, the administrative closure trick allowed the administration to cut the pay of tenured faculty without saying the words "financial emergency", which this section (2.C) of the Board policy would seem to require. If this is correct the board has already altered its policy on tenure, though only to the point of furloughing faculty, not firing them.

    (iii) The FA concern is indeed based mainly on the imposed language about "reduction in force". The FA's worry is that the phrase 11:47 highlights, **in the event that a financial emergency has been declared** appears nowhere in the imposed terms--nor does any similar language. The board's proposal baldly begins "If the Board considers a need for reduction in force [layoffs] for Faculty members . . . "; a few sentences later it says, "If the Board decides it is necessary to fully or partially lay off Faculty members in accordance with this Article": note, not in accordance with anything else. The article itself certainly puts no limits on the board's discretion in determining that layoffs are necessary. It does suggest some factors that must be "considered" in determining who to lay off.

    Presumably 11:47 means that the contract language assumes the current board policies. But as has been pointed out earlier, the only cross reference to the Board Policy--a reference the Chancellor made much of in her town hall meeting last spring--is buried in a section about the placement service, making its relevance unclear. [to be continued]

  6. [continuation: apparently I went over some secret Google limit on this comment!]

    If this policy is merely horribly drafted--which I think would be the most charitable interpretation, assuming 11:47 is correct about its intention, then a redrafted version could save us all a lot of grief. But even contractual language which alludes to the board's policy is, to my (reconsidered!) view, unacceptable, because (a) the board can change its policies whenever it wishes to and (b) the current policy allows layoffs not only in the event of a "financial exigency" but in the event of a "financial emergency"--a rather lower threshold.

    (iv) 11:47 says that the argument is only about how to define a financial emergency, not about the meaning of tenure as such. This is a distinction without a difference. If the board can lay off tenured faculty after declaring a "financial emergency" at its own discretion (note once again that we aren't even talking about the more severe state of "financial exigency"), this clearly undermines the status of tenure. Tenure is a form of job protection. The financial emergency clause of the BOT policy is a way to take away one's job. How are the two issues not related?

    To the FA proposal. Here are the principles it appears to be based on. They are those of the AAUP.

    1. If a university is going to lay off a tenured (or tenure-track) professor for budgetary reasons, it must declare a dire state of financial exigency, "an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means" (AAUP language).

    2. The faculty themselves should be allowed a meaningful role in determining that such a dire state of affairs in fact exists.

    As a matter of fact, the FA proposal appears to fall short of the AAUP position in at least one important regard, as according to the AAUP

    3. Faculty should have the "primary responsibility" in deciding the criteria that would determine which faculty members are to be laid off.

    The FA proposal outlines one way of ensuring faculty participation. The problem doesn't lie in details like the four year business 11:47 hits on, but rather these principles. If we could agree on these principles, we could agree on a process to implement them. The administration position is that we already agree on the principles, but that the FA is trying to usurp traditional administrative functions. This is, I submit, incorrect. The current Board Policy, even without the imposed terms, allow for layoffs even under a short term budget crunch. It allows for no meaningful faculty participation in determining even that such a "crunch" exists (although the consultation and reporting process it lays out could enable faculty to take their case to the wider public).

    It is not paranoia to worry that an institution will cite budgetary pressures well less dire than financial exigency before laying off tenured faculty. It's happening elsewhere, as Inside Higher Ed reported:

  7. There's at least one error in my URLs in the first part of my mammoth response to 11:47. To see the administration's proposal on "reduction in force", go to this address:

    Blogging and parsing contractual language is a difficult combination.

  8. Dave,

    If I may paraphrase your position (correct me if I am misreading your lengthy post[s]):

    • Tenure is awarded and defined by the BOT.
    • The BOT has not changed its stance on tenure except (your argument) in so far as it now allows furloughs, and you have no information that it plans to do so but no assurance that it does not.
    • The BOT could choose to change its documents at any time.
    • The BOT cannot be trusted not to change its documents.
    • Even contractual language is not sufficient.
    What then would satisfy you? Legislative action? Laws can be changed at any time. A constitutional amendment? Good luck getting that through.

    If you don’t like the BOT regulations and other docs, it could equally be argued that a contract is equally weak or even weaker. For starters, it is renegotiated every few years. In the time it takes to achieve tenure it will be renegotiated at least once and it could easily be changed. What is stopping the FA, for example, from negotiating (or trying to) a contract that protects tenure for dues paying FA members only? It has already been argued in other threads that the FA makes no effort to determine, much less represent, the views of faculty other than those that pay it financial homage. Do I have information that the FA plans to do that? No, but neither do I have any assurance that it does not. Same standard you apply to the BOT docs. So it boils down to trust, and there is precious little of that to be found in our deeply polarized faculty at present.

    I will also take issue with your one rather inflammatory statement. “Tenure is a form of job protection”. No, absolutely not! In this country nine people, the Justices of the Supreme Court, have guaranteed job security. Tenure is a means to protect ideas and the processes that produce them, not jobs. It exists to ensure that academic freedom is preserved. That is your freedom and mine to engage in research, scholarship and creative pursuits as we see fit, and to pass on those ideas and that knowledge (and the skills by which it is derived) without fear of losing our livelihoods because someone else is in some way threatened by our ideas. It is a unique privilege among all who need employment to provide their livelihoods.

    If we cease to produce ideas or give up scholarship or creative pursuits; if we do not teach that knowledge or pass on our skills effectively, then we should not be here because we are not fulfilling our obligations and we do not deserve the security that tenure brings with it. Tenure is not what you suggest it is and your statement cheapens it tremendously. The job security that you refer to is a privilege that goes along with tenure, but it also comes with great responsibility. You cite the principles that you believe should be protected but you omit protection of this most singular principle. You appear to want the security, without ensuring the responsibility or acknowledging the obligation that goes along with it.

  9. You should not be surprised to read me say that you have completely mischaracterized my position. I will allow others to characterize your claim that I have tremendously cheapened tenure and failed to live up to my responsibilities as a tenured faculty member precisely by attempting to articulate, under my own name, how tenure is to be defined and defended in the context of a financial crisis.

    Let me try to be clear, or at least briefer, about my own position.

    1. Tenure protects academic freedom by protecting the jobs of academics.

    2. The AAUP policies on tenure, long the consensus view at American colleges and universities, spell out a principled approach to tenure.

    3. The BOT policy, as amended in 2003, falls short of the AAUP statement, among other ways, by allowing for layoffs not only in the dire and clearly defined case of "financial exigency", but also in the lesser and undefined case of "financial emergency".

    4. The imposed terms further diverge from the AAUP standards by not even requiring a "financial emergency"--unless we can believe the full BOT policy was meant to be incorporated into those terms via a single sentence placed in an irrelevant part of those terms. Again, if those terms were simply poorly drafted, a simple revision could remove this objection by clarifying that layoffs could go forward only after the BOT process for declaring a "financial emergency" was followed--though this still leaves the objection in 3 unanswered.

    Finally, is it your position that tenure need only require that the administration be able to make a prima facie case that they are not firing a faculty member for his or her views? So long, then, as I cannot show that I am being laid off because of my views, the administration is free to lay me off for any reason they see fit? That is, I hope we could agree, a considerably narrower view of tenure than the traditional one.

  10. What an apt anonymous analogy: Official actions and changes to policy documents of the SIU Board of Trustees; as well as new articles on reduction in force and furloughs in the SIUC Faculty Association's terms of service; along with the past year's history of vigorous negotiating and lobbying therefor; as well as the broader, arguably coordinated, American trend toward the hobbling of public unions and, in some cases, faculty unions specifically; in addition to the general legislative, administrative, and journalistic discourse around educational efficiencies that considers the ability to hire and fire teachers or summarily alter their terms of service as the key to successful reform; all of these together require the same standards of skeptical evaluation as … wait for it … the comments thread on this blog. Nonetheless, Dave is obviously crazy or, in the transparently manufactured and repetitive PR-speak of a previous anonym: "wacky."

  11. Dave, I am Anonymous 9:59

    I will have to take a while to digest your response, but I will clarify this at once. I did not intend anything in my post to indicate that you, personally or individually, had failed to live up to your responsibilities as a tenured faculty member. I simply have no knowledge on which to base such an accusation. That part of my post dealt with the nature of tenure, not with you as an individual. If I gave offense, then I apologize.

  12. 9:59: Thanks for that. You raise some fundamental points, and while I was indeed offended by some of what you said, I think this debate is valuable.

    One more quick answer. Here's what would please me: I would be very happy indeed were the BOT to substantially adopt the AAUP principles concerning tenure as its tenure policy and include a line in the contract saying that that section of its policy would not change during the life of the contract. Then we'd be protected both by the FA contract and BOT policy. What's not to like with that?

  13. Dave,

    As I see it, our discussion has (d)evolved into two intertwined but separate issues: what you termed “contractual tenure protection” and the nature of tenure. To avoid misunderstandings I will try to separate the two sub-threads.

    You like the idea of incorporating tenure protection into the FA contract (for now let’s set aside what form that might take). I do not. I still think it boils down to a matter of trust. You trust the intentions of the FA and don’t trust the BOT/administration and I don’t trust the FA and (generally) do trust the administration. Note to those looking for fodder to feed their thirst for the virtual blood who do not agree with their own views, I am not saying I agree with everything the administration does/is doing, in fact I think some recent moves by the administration were bone-headed, including replacing the bike racks.
    You impart great importance to things I think are trivial (probably because you don’t trust the administration) For example, you put a lot of emphasis on the language “financial exigency” vs “financial emergency” which I think means exactly nothing. “Exigency” is an uncommon word that means (according to a highly sophisticated google search) “requiring immediate action or remedy”, which pretty much defines an emergency. I suspect that the difference is nothing more than the individual idiom of the members of the BOT at the time the language was drafted. To borrow an expression from you, it is a distinction without a difference (or at least without intended significance).

    I agree that the BOT documents could probably do with some cleaning up, but all such documents that evolve over time, with different hands and minds working on them, end up looking like the proverbial assignment that the dog ate. Ours are no different than others. If you would be satisfied with a clarification that RIF affecting tenured faculty could only be done after the board issues a declaration of financial emergency/exigency, then I am sure you would meet little resistance. But the FA position goes way beyond that (as we both acknowledge). Why is the administration unwilling to give ground? I am sure that they could articulate many specific reasons, but the general answer, IMO, is lack of trust. I have no direct knowledge of the administrations thinking on any subject, but I suspect that they won’t give an inch because the FA will try and take a mile. I don’t know a way to bridge that trust gap. Both sides are deeply entrenched and as I see the mood around campus, positions are hardening, not looking for ways to move forward. Of course I would like to see the FA back off some of its demands, because I do not trust the FA. You, I am sure, see only goodness and light in the FA’s position and look to the administration and those of us faculty supporting it to fold (e.g. your suggestion in your last post). And so it goes on…

    (long post limit so will post remainder separately)

  14. Now, onto the second issue, the nature of tenure.

    First, to answer your question; no I do not think that the administration should be able to lay off any faculty member for any reason provided that that faculty member cannot show that they were let go because of his or her “views” (to borrow your word). I agree that that is far too narrow a concept of tenure and I am not and would not offer such a proposal.

    To your point 1. (“Tenure protects academic freedom by protecting the jobs of academics”). That’s true, and it’s a major improvement over your initial premise that “tenure is a form of job protection” to which I initially took exception. But IMO it fails to convey what I feel the central premise that is too often overlooked: Academic freedom is more than the freedom to engage in research, scholarship and creative pursuits as we see fit. It is also the *responsibility*, to engage in research, scholarship and creative pursuits and it requires that the fruits of those pursuits be passed on to our students through effective teaching.

    Your original premise, [that] “tenure is a form of job protection” (no mention of academic freedom that time) is what the public perceives tenure to be and it is that mentality that is at the root of many of the attacks on tenure that are occurring around the country. Joe public speaking to his local rep... I don't have a guaranteed job and some of my neighbors just got laid off. Why should that ivory tower type have a guaranteed job? Job security is NOT the goal. The goal is the protection of academic freedom, job security is the means to that goal. So to follow my reasoning (if you still think it is in fact reasoning at all), if tenure protects academic freedom, and academic freedom is both the right *and the responsibility* to engage in research, scholarship and creative pursuits and also *requires* effective teaching, then job security should NOT extend to those that do not meet their responsibilities to create, to pursue scholarship or research, and to teach effectively.

    The FA position on protecting tenure, it seems to me, is all one sided. It seeks all of the benefits that tenure brings, including job security, but offers nothing in return to the administration to protect its interest (its responsibility to the State/public) to make sure that those receiving the benefits of tenure also fulfill their responsibilities (to engage in research, scholarship and creative pursuits and to teach effectively).

    That may well be in the nature of union proposals. To borrow an expression from Jack Sparrow: “take, what you can, give nothing back”; but (IMO) the pirate mentality (offered tongue-in-cheek for those waiting in the wings to pounce) is not in the best long term interests of the university and it will not break the impasse between the FA and the administration nor do anything to depolarize the faculty.

  15. Wow, I was intrigued by the thread but now I'm exhausted (!).

    First, I don't think tenure is lifetime job security but as a FA member thinking in terms of bread-and-butter job security, I like the proposal to lay off in a certain order, with tenured faculty last. Members of other unions on campus were surprised that we (FA) didn't have such a seniority clause (which is what this comes down to since it is unlikely tenured faculty would be hit if untenured were laid off first). Yes, this is selfish of me but isn't self-interest one reason this campus has one union after another?

    Second, there is case law but it is not as concrete as bankruptcy law (one article compares it to going through a corporate bankruptcy situation):

    Third, I suspect the BOT, which always has lawyers on board (right?), wanted to avoid the trip wire term "exigency" because it explicitly or implicitly sends a signal that the survival of the campus may be at stake. Real world consequence: creditors demand higher interest rates from institutions that have declared themselves near the brink. Thoughts on that?

    Last, the one point where I would diverge from Dave is whether furloughs are an attack on tenure. That's a bit much, isn't it? Furloughs applied to ALL staff on campus, whether they were tenured or not.

  16. Aside: second time I've heard students ask a SIUC staff member in the gym about the strike. First time I was standing by a tour guide, second time some student workers were asking one of our physical plant staff what a strike would mean. So the strike talk has trickled down to people who really focus on such things: prospective parents/kids who bother to visit us check out EVERYTHING and students who depend on work here.

    Just passing along. Purely anecdotal and I doubt 95% of students have any idea. And don't know at what point the FA would alert the student body to the ramifications?

  17. Thanks to 6:40 (et al) for those two comments: you have done a good job of disentangling two separate threads in the argument. I'll respond to #1 here, contractualizing tenure. 

    You are certainly right that trust is not in high supply across campus, and you correctly analyze where the two of us place more trust. 

The big point, I suppose, is how much trust to put in contracts. Reasonable people can disagree about how much to put in a contract. In a better world, we could rely on those in power exercising equity rather than strictly following the rules, staying true to the spirit of the principles we all agree on rather than being forced to follow the letter of a contract. But in a dearth of trust, clear contractual language can, I think, not only help avoid conflict but help rebuild trust.


One quip I've come up with: I don't distrust my banker, but I had him sign my mortgage, too. Tenure is important. I'd like someone's signature on a clear document.


It is also important to keep in mind that a contract isn't imposed by one side or the other: both sides have to agree to it. Some of your reasoning seems premised on the notion that the FA sets contract terms. It doesn't: it must bargain them with the administration.


I believe you are simply wrong about "financial exigency". Though the phrases "financial exigency" and "financial emergency" may seem to make a distinction without a difference, the former term is pretty clearly defined by the AAUP, and even the BOT policy recognizes a distinction between the two terms in its current policy. 

The AAUP defines "financial exigency" as follows: "an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means."

    A "financial emergency," on the other hand, does not have any such definition, to the best of my knowledge. The administration has often spoken of a "financial crisis" (as, probably, have most of us); since I arrived in 1998, more years than not have probably seen something characterized as a "financial crisis". Hence I think that the administration could have, with a straight face, declared a "financial emergency" half a dozen times since I've been here. That's not high enough a bar for me. It may suffice for furloughs--as the FA proposal would allow. But not for termination. 


If the administration could agree as a matter of principle that "financial exigency" was the only fiscal justification for laying off tenured faculty, I think the details of the process to define and declare a "financial exigency" could be worked out rather quickly. The details do matter: SIUC did, after all, declare a bogus financial exigency in 1974. But they could be resolved if there were agreement on the principle.

    But I fear we disagree on this principle: the administration appears to want the power to layoff faculty during any period of financial stress. That's the debate we should be having, I think.

    There are also other, non-fiscal and legitimate reasons to terminate tenured faculty, as the rest of your post suggests. But that will have to wait for tomorrow. 

[to be continued . . .]

  18. The mechanism for enforcing or promoting responsible scholarship and teaching for tenured faculty—other than thorough hiring practices, pre-tenure mentoring, and sound T&P evaluation procedures—is a real post-tenure review, one that includes the prospect of reassignment of duties and, ultimately, termination. Neither the reduction in force nor, certainly, the furlough article in the current terms of service are remotely interested in this subject. None of the statements, let alone arguments, in support of these provisions even allude to the broader aim of demanding greater faculty responsibility (in part, one assumes, because such demands would require evidence of faculty irresponsibility, as opposed to amorphous evocations of the goodness of its opposite). Thus, anonym’s recitation of Stanley Fish’s position on the limits of academic freedom and faculty responsibilities is really beside the point.

  19. Jonathan Bean (10:29)PM:

    Check page ten of the Daily Egyptian. It doesn't mention a strike, but it does say, "As a show of good faith, we have been working without a labor contract for more than 400 days."

    It looks like the unions' goal was friendly awareness rather than frightened awareness.

  20. Ryan,

    I had to look up who Stanley Fish is (to be honest, at first I thought it was another tongue in cheek "Pirates of the Caribbean" reference :-)) I may have been channeling, but I was not reciting. But thanks for the pointer, I will do a little digging around and try to learn more.

  21. As we're all a bit exhausted by this thread, I'll try to wrap up my comments here.

    As Jonathan Bean notes, there is something of a tension between tenure as traditionally understood and tenure as a union matter. (This tension is what led to the tense exchange above between me and anonymous.) But there's more overlap than tension, I think. In any event, I think that public employees have the right to form unions and bargain to represent their employee's interests. I don't think that's all the FA is doing, but it is obviously a part of what the FA is doing, and I'm fine with that.

    Anonymous 6:40 is calling for post-tenure review, as Ryan Netzley notes. 6:40 is suggesting something the administration made some effort to get last time around. When the administration proposed post-tenure review last time, the FA responded by pointing to the fairly elaborate mechanisms in place at some universities that had post-tenure review. Of course the FA's suggestions emphasized the less punitive aspects of post-tenure review. But those suggestions made it clear that if post-tenure review was to be done responsibly, it would require a great deal of administrative work. And if tenure were to remain a viable concept at all, the punitive aspects of post-tenure review would need to be so hedged with due process protections that the administration would end up with very little bang for its buck. The administration pretty quickly backed done last time, and made no post-tenure review proposal this time around, to the best of my knowledge.

    We're back to the trust issue, I suppose. Does 6:40 believe that many tenured faculty aren't pulling their weight around here? I don't. Of course there are some cases, which irk the rest of us to no end, but I don't think that tenured university faculty are any more likely to be incompetent than are long term employees in any other large organization--rather the opposite. You are no supposed to be tenured unless we judge that you will continue to be a productive member of the faculty, after all. And does anonymous trust that administrators would correctly identify, attempt to correct, and then, if necessary, fire such faculty?

    If both sides were treating tenure simply as job-protection, the administration would try go secure post-tenure review and the union would try to water down standards for tenure (something it has never done, to the best of my knowledge). I would hope that cooler heads would prevail this time, and that we would recognize that tenure not only provides job security (something all employees will want to strengthen, and employers want weaken) but protects academic values (which both sides in this negotiation ought to want).

  22. Hi All,

    Good thread, but I too am ready to let this go (too much to do to get ready for classes) so I wont add too much in the way of new comment. I will just add that post tenure review is one way to address my concern, but it may not be the only way and perhaps clever minds could come up with others, so I would not narrow thinking on that point just yet. We are, after all, supposed to be creative!

    My point though was not specifically about how to ensure faculty meet their obligations under tenure, but more along the lines that if the FA (or its proponents) is/are going to argue for the contractualization of tenure (I still think that's a bad idea), then the proposal should balance the protections that the FA is seeking with the obligations that go along with tenure. It should not be all one sided.

    Thanks again for a thought provoking thread!


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