/Tenure decided by college presidents now

Tenure decided by college presidents now

Nonprofit Mississippi News According to amended policies that the board quietly approved at Thursday’s regular meeting, the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees won’t approve tenure in Mississippi. The presidents of Mississippi’s eight public universities will decide whether or not to grant tenure. This type of indefinite appointment protects academic freedom and higher education. The board will allow faculty who are denied tenure by their university presidents to appeal. University presidents will now be able to consider the “effectiveness, accuracy, and integrity of communications” of faculty members before granting tenure. The board has added language to its policies that allows presidents to take into account “contumacious behavior” or insubordination. This factor was previously not included in the board’s tenure dismissal policy. Neal Hutchens, an University of Mississippi professor who specializes in legal issues as well as tenure, said that “I worry these terms would be used in order to chill faculty speech and participate in shared governance.” These changes were not discussed at the board’s Thursday meeting, as they were part of the consent agenda. Trustees usually approve these policies without discussion. IHL also approved changes to the presidential search process, which will make members of search committees anonymous to one another. Thursday’s board meeting book noted that “these policy changes were discussed in depth during the March 2022 Board Meeting.” However, that meeting took place at the Mississippi State University Riley Center (in Meridian), an hour and a half away from Jackson. It was not live-streamed, unlike other IHL board meetings. Mississippi Today could not attend the March board meeting in Meridian. However, a reporter went to the IHL board retreat the day before. The board discussed the proposed tenure policies at the retreat. However, no faculty members were available to offer their views on the new language. Mississippi Today reached out to Caron Blanton, spokesperson for IHL, to find out if any faculty had been consulted on the proposed policy language. She did not respond to press time. Hutchens stated that it was disappointing that the board didn’t give faculty the opportunity to review the policies in an inclusive and transparent manner. He said that it would have been great to hold real town halls about this so that people could ask questions like “What do these standards do that the existing HR standards don’t?” Tenure is granted to faculty after years of hard work. This ensures that they can’t be fired for insubordination or reduction in academic program. Tenure is awarded after a thorough committee process that starts at the departmental level. According to a Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Report, 34% of Mississippi’s faculty were tenured last year. Although tenure is supposed to protect faculty against outside influences, it has been a political process in Mississippi. Multiple members of the IHL board decided to deny tenure to University of Mississippi sociology Professor James Thomas in 2019 because they didn’t like his tweets. National scrutiny was triggered by the decision to exclude Thomas from a tenure session in executive session. This included scrutiny from the American Association of University Professors. State Senator Chris McDaniel, a state senator, introduced a bill to end tenure in this session. However it was defeated in committee. IHL hopes that the new policies will help Mississippi de-politicize tenure by keeping these decisions in-house at each university. Hutchens stated that he could see how the new policies could remove one layer of political difficulty, and provide some insulation to tenure decisions. However, that is dependent on having a chancellor/president that is seeking in good faith to adhere to the standards for promotion and tenure. He also said that university presidents are more accountable than IHL board members who are not experts in higher education but are political appointees. Only three of the board’s eight tenure policies were changed by the board: Post-tenure review, promotions in rank and minimum standards for tenured employment. Hutchens expressed concern that the board included a reference to the AAUP Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. This statement states that faculty “should remember” that the public can judge their profession and institution by what they say. Hutchens also stated that policies such as “collegiality,” which are meant to promote the inclusion of faculty of color, can be misused. He said that the problem with such terms is that they can be too vague to be about faculty subservience to institutional leaders. This could be grounds to dismiss faculty for unwarranted reason or deny tenure. The March retreat was attended by Commissioner Alfred Rankins, who gave a PowerPoint presentation about the basics of tenure to the board. Although no faculty members were present at the retreat, Rankins, a tenured Mississippi State University professor, was asked by the board to present his point of view. Rankins stressed the benefits that tenure offers to universities and their faculty members during the presentation. Rankins stated to the board that if Mississippi universities didn’t offer tenure, then the “best and most brightest” faculty would not be able to come work in the state. He said, “It’s extremely unlikely that they’re going to leave and come here for tenure at the University of Mississippi.” It’s almost impossible to imagine.” Gee Ogletree (a trustee and real estate lawyer) asked Gee Ogletree what role the U.S. Department of Education has in overseeing state-level tenure policies. He referred to a letter sent by the USDOE to Florida regarding Gov. Ron DeSantis’s plan for limiting tenure required universities to constantly switch regional accreditors. Rankins sighed. Rankins sighed. Teresa Hubbard (CITE Armored’s president), said that she can fire without cause from her company. CITE Armored makes SWAT vehicles. Van Gillespie (IHL’s associate commissioner in legal affairs) answered questions from the board. He explained that it is easier for universities to dismiss non-tenured faculty who have signed one-year contracts. Van, if you have a bad tenured man and a good non-tenured man, and you have the cause to fire them both, then there is no difference between the two,” asked J. Walt Starr (outgoing board president). “They are equal up to the point that you have to get rid them.”