Comments from the Wisconsin University Union
on Proposed Revision to Chapter 10
Program Discontinuance, Curtailment, Modification or Redirection
(Approved by the ad hoc committee on tenure and termination on September 11, 2015 and the University Committee on September 14, 2015 and to be presented to the UW-Madison Faculty Senate on October 5.)
The Wisconsin University Union (WUU) commends the ad-hoc committee for the work they did to address their charge. The charge, when given, may have seemed appropriate as a rapid response to the changes due to Act 55. However, from discussions at the faculty listening sessions, it is clear that enacting a tenure policy based on that change is not in the best interest of the University. The measure of the value of tenure is not established through comparison to guidelines from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) or to peer institutions but by comparison with what existed before Act 55.
WUU urges the Faculty Senate reject the proposed revision to Chapter 10 and replace it with a proposal that addresses the issues below and those raised at the faculty listening sessions.
- As noted by the UW-Madison Chapter of AAUP, Act 55 permits the State Universities to lay off tenured faculty for curtailment, modification or redirection of a program, but does not demand that policies include such possibilities. The ad-hoc committee noted that many programs have changed or been terminated in the past without eliminating faculty. That should not be changed simply because we are now allowed to do so.
- The policy should go back to stipulating that faculty can be terminated only due to financial emergency and to due cause. Should the Faculty Senate fail to redirect the tenure policy to insure stability for faculty as currently existent, any policy should address the following:
- Since lay-offs and terminations have not been necessary in the past, they should not be part of program redirections in the future but only applicable for financial emergencies.
- “Programs” need to be defined to prevent administrators from defining programs as individuals targeted for removal.
- Program changes approved by the University Academic Planning Council as well as the results of a hearing for program changes or job displacement before the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities should be appealable to the Faculty Senate.
- For any displacement of faculty, seniority should play an important part in which faculty lose positions and the policy should have explicit langue concerning seniority.
- Any policy must define all the relevant terms.
Regardless of the policy adopted, the Faculty Senate should resolve to address job stability issues for University Staff.