March 10, 2016
AAUP UW-Madison Statement on Proposed Policies on Tenure, Layoff and Post-Tenure Review
Today, the UW System stands at a crossroads as the Board of Regents meets to approve system-wide policies on tenure, post-tenure review and layoff of tenured faculty drafted in response to Wisconsin Act 55. As members of the UW Madison Chapter of the AAUP, we represent a 100 year tradition of protecting academic freedom. Our legacy includes Professor Richard T. Ely, one of the original signatories to the AAUP’s 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure, whose trial resulted in the Regents’ famous defense of “fearless sifting and winnowing.” It also includes Professor Helen C. White, who as President of the AAUP immediately following the Red Scare, oversaw the development of AAUP’s first set of Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
We applaud the UW System Faculty Representatives and faculty members of the Tenure Policy Task Force, who came together unanimously to request significant changes to the Regents’ draft policies. We further call upon the Regents to amend their policies to bring them in compliance with the 2014 Recommended Institutional Regulations of the AAUP.
Any policy that does not meet the following standards cannot be considered consistent with AAUP’s professional standards:
• Faculty shall not be laid off except in case of a bona fide financial emergency or a formal program discontinuance based essentially on educational considerations as determined by the faculty.
• Any faculty committee responsible for determining the existence of a financial emergency, determining criteria for program discontinuance and/or review of programs for discontinuance shall be duly elected by the faculty or appointed by an elected faculty body.
• Determinations of the Board of Regents regarding the existence of a financial emergency or program discontinuance for educational considerations should concur with faculty judgment except in rare instances and for compelling reasons which should be stated in detail.
• In the case of financial emergency, all feasible alternatives to termination of appointments shall be pursued prior to laying off faculty.
• Faculty review hearings in the case of layoff for financial emergency may question the existence and extent of the condition of financial emergency and whether all feasible alternatives to termination of appointments were pursued, with the burden of proof resting on the administration.
• In the case of program discontinuance for educational considerations, every effort shall be made to place the faculty member in a suitable alternative position.
• Faculty review hearings in the case of layoff for program discontinuance may question whether the conditions for discontinuance were essentially educational, as determined primarily by the faculty, and whether every effort was made to place the faculty member in a suitable alternative position, with the burden of proof resting on the administration.
• Educational considerations are distinct from financial considerations and shall not include comparative cost or cost-effectiveness analysis of programs or the need to reallocate resources to other programs that are considered to be higher priority.
• Program reduction through modification or redirection resulting in faculty layoff shall not be permitted.
• Program reduction through curtailment resulting in faculty layoff shall only be permitted in case of bona fide financial emergency.
• In the event that a faculty appointment is terminated as the result of program discontinuance for educational considerations, faculty shall receive severance in accordance with AAUP Recommended Institutional Regulation 8.
• Faculty shall have the right to challenge the findings and correct the record of any post-tenure review or remediation plan by appeal to an elected faculty grievance committee.
We urge the Regents to remember our legacy and preserve it for future generations of scholars, for the benefit of the people of Wisconsin.