In 1969, 78.3% of postsecondary faculty was on a tenured-track, leaving 21.7% not eligible for tenure. By 2009, that number had shifted substantially leaving only 33.5% university faculty on a tenure-track and 66.5% not eligible for tenure (Kezar & Maxey, 2013). With the shift from the majority of faculty being tenured to hiring primarily non-tenure eligible staff, it is important for public postsecondary administrators to understand the legal issues regarding hiring, disciplining and firing tenured and non-tenured faculty. Following is a description of tenure, the process for terminating tenured faculty claiming financial exigencies, the process for terminating tenured faculty for cause, collective bargaining, and the rights of part-time faculty.
Designation of Tenure
To understand the legal ramifications surrounding university faculty, the terms tenure, tenured-track, non-tenure, and non-tenured-track must be explained. Kaplin and Lee (2014) define tenure as:
An employment status that institutions award to faculty members who meet certain predefined standards. Tenure entitles the faculty member to a set of protections, established by stature or contract, that precludes the institution from dismissing the faculty member unless it can demonstrate a substantial cause for doing so, such as incompetence, neglect of duty, moral turpitude, or financial exigency; and unless it first provides the faculty member with a formal due process hearing (pp. 853).
Based on this definition, a faculty member on a tenure-track has the opportunity to earn the designation of tenured faculty after meeting criteria defined by the postsecondary institution, as well as any criteria identified by the state in whi...
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American Association of University Professors (2004). Financial exigency, academic governance, and related matters. Retrieved from May 8, 2014, from: http://www.aaup.org/report/financial-exigency-academic-governance-and-related-matters
American Association of University Professors (2006). Termination and discipline. Retrieved from May 8, 2014, from:
Kaplin, W., & Lee, B. (2014). The law of higher education (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kezar, A., & Maxey, D. (2013, May/June). The changing academic workforce. Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges: Trusteeship Magazine, 21(3), 15-37. Retrieved from http://agb.org/trusteeship/2013/5/changing-academic-workforce
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