University of Wisconsin faculty continued to speak out against potential tenure changes in the state budget and Chancellor Rebecca Blank spoke on her plan to retain tenure protections at a listening session in Union South Monday.
Earlier this month, the Joint Finance Committee passed a motion that would eliminate tenure protections from state statute and create new language broadening the grounds on which tenured faculty could be fired.
Motion passed to reduce UW System cuts, modify shared governance, tenureThe state’s finance committee trimmed cuts to University of Wisconsin System to $250 million, while also making changes that professors have said would Read…
The motion has created an uproar among faculty, and more than 200 faculty members showed up to a Faculty Senate session last week to discuss the proposed changes. Monday’s meeting drew a considerably smaller crowd. Blank has said she is committed to ensure UW faculty have the same tenure protections as their peers.
Blank said a university committee would soon begin drafting language regarding how layoffs would work for tenured faculty at UW and she said faculty will be closely involved.
Blank acknowledged that competing universities have already begun to make offers to UW professors, and she described UW as “different in kind” than other UW System campuses.
“I know we’re going to have a bulls-eye on our back,” she said.
Adena Rissman, an associate professor of forest and wildlife ecology at UW, said she was concerned what the specific attention on UW would mean for other UW campuses, many of which Rissman’s department works closely with.
“I’m encouraging you to not just focus on Madison, but take the broader system into account,” she said.
Blank said although her responsibility has to be UW, she hopes UW creates a policy other campuses can look toward and use as a model for their own policies.
David Vanness, an assistant professor of population health sciences at UW, said he is concerned about tenure policies no longer following American Association of University Professor guidelines. AAUP opposed the potential tenure changes at their 101st annual meeting Saturday.
Michael Olneck, an emeritus professor of educational policy studies and sociology at UW, asked Blank if the system has considered lobbying other republican senators not in the Joint Finance Committee to kill this portion of the bill before it reaches Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.
Blank said while she was unable to discuss details of ongoing conversations with legislators, the UW System would more likely influence changing the language at the finance committee level than gaining support from majorities in both the Senate and Assembly.
Blank said because disagreements on transportation have delayed the finance committee’s process, the UW System has had more time to work with legislators on reforming tenure language.
A listening session for junior faculty is set to be held in the near future.