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Kansas Board of Regents Votes to Allow Emergency Terminations, Even for Tenured Faculty

Kansas Board of Regents Votes to Allow Emergency Terminations, Even for Tenured Faculty

“The current fiscal year has been difficult as we are in the midst of a belt-tightening unlike any in recent history”

The pandemic is given as the reason for this, but at the end of the day, it’s really about finances.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Suspending the Rules for Faculty Layoffs

Giving just one day’s notice to the faculty governance chairs at its universities, the Kansas Board of Regents voted this week to allow for emergency employee terminations and suspensions. Tenured professors are no exception.

All nine voting regents approved the temporary policy, which takes effect immediately and expires at the end of 2022.

“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,” any employee — including one with tenure — “may be suspended, dismissed, or terminated from employment by their respective university,” the policy says.

Previously, state institutions had to follow a specific process to declare financial exigency in order to shed tenured professors for budgetary reasons. This is consistent with norms established by the American Association of University Professors. Now through the end of next year, declaring exigency is not necessary. Universities only have to develop a policy framework for the board to approve. No existing campus policy hearing procedures need apply to these personnel decisions, either.

Kansas’s six state universities are reeling from a proposal by Governor Laura Kelly to slash state funding to higher education in 2022. The state universities face a 5.5 percent budget cut. This would be the most significant cut since 2009, Kansas State University president Richard Meyers wrote in a campus memo this week.

“The current fiscal year has been difficult as we are in the midst of a belt-tightening unlike any in recent history,” Meyers said. “We’ve seen budget reductions, furloughs and layoffs as revenues dropped precipitously and costs increased due to the pandemic. The full impacts continue to be felt throughout the university.”

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Comments

It would be interesting to see how much of the 5.5% budget cut could be absorbed by cutting administrative staff and various diversity coordinators before you even get to the grievance studies departments.

And there’s absolutely no contract violation issues? (Not an academic, genuine question.)

    I can only speak for the states and institutions where I work. In those faculty contracts the university has the right to declare financial exigency and to then propose layoffs that include tenured faculty. It usually involved some possibility of give-and-take between the board of trustees and the union. But I don’t know Kansas’ system.

      RestLess in reply to John M. | January 24, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      Same thing at my former university. Our contracts specifically mentioned that all positions were “contingent upon funding.” Tenure protected you from a lot of things but not from lack of $$$.

it’s really about finances

Is it? While I can imagine it’s nominally about finances, it’s a Sword of Damocles held over the head of any faculty member with unapproved opinions. “Be silent or we’ll cancel you”.

I live twenty miles from KU and my son is a senior there. If the university got rid of the “grievance studies” departments, whose only apparent reason for existence is to provide employment for the professors, and the “diversity coordinators,” and the reason for the existence of those positions eludes everyone except the grievance studies professors, they would certainly help to offset the budget cuts. Not sure if they’d cover the whole 5.5%, but it’s a place to start.

How many tenured professors will be fired before they fire even one “diversity” managing bureaucrat?

How many of these tenured professors supported the lockdown and destruction of the economy? How many of them support censorship and cancel culture for those with whom they disagree? It’s hard to be too sympathetic when they’re really seeing the results of what they’ve been supporting now for decades. Didn’t they realize they were the frog transporting the scorpion too?

The first person in line for an emergency termination will be anyone on staff who is unwise enough to criticize the administration for wanting these new, emergency, powers.

This is happening in a lot of places now. In my state, there has already been one county college that has declared financial exigency and has begun laying off faculty. One of the state universities has also started closing programs and letting faculty go. The flagship university let go almost all of their adjunct writing teachers — I believe they are requiring full-timers to take on that load instead of riding their usual hobbyhorses.
There’s quite a reckoning coming to higher ed. This is just the beginning.

    RestLess in reply to John M. | January 24, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    My former university has pretty much done the same thing over the past decade as enrollment took a nosedive and state funding decreased. The university even had the guts to eliminate major like Women’s Studies, African American Studies and Philosophy. Each of these departments had fewer than 10 majors. Other majors were eliminated as well based on low enrollments, so these PC departments couldn’t argue that it was discrimination.

When I worked for a state university, it was written in the Faculty Code that the President could declare a financial exigency and terminate entire departments and areas of study.

I remember one day when the student newspaper headline said that two philosophy profs had been terminated for financial exigency. On the bottom half of that same front page was an article about the hiring of two new football coaches, at much higher salaries than the philosophy profs.

That was then, and this is now. Now, while they will terminate a few faculty members who actually teach students something, and at the same time they will turn around and hire another Dean of Diversity and her retinue at much higher salaries than the professors. These people’s job is only to teach people to mistrust those who look different from them.

    henrybowman in reply to OldProf2. | January 24, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    “These people’s job is only to teach people to mistrust those who look different from them.”

    The longer I live, the more I discover that the Democrats’ agenda in the 2020s is pretty much exactly the same as it was in the 1920s.

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