University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128
Web page: http://www.umd.umich.edu/~marcyb
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Our attempt to reach a compromise on revision of the Tenure
Regulations has failed. The Regents have proposed new amendments at their
meeting on Thursday. In effect, they have accepted the parts of the
Faculty Senate draft in which the faculty made compromises and rejected the
parts in which the administration recognized faculty concerns. Far
from being a compromise, the new proposal goes well beyond any prior
The Regents have asked that the faculty complete review of their new
draft within a month, so that they can take final action on October 10.
The draft contains the most substantial changes in tenure policy that have
been put forward here in over 50 years. To meet this hectic schedule, the
committees will meet in the week of September 16, and the Faculty Senate
will meet on the first day of classes, September 26.
The Regents put forward their proposal over President Hasselmo's
strenuous opposition. Given the manner in which the proposal was prepared, the
extremely limited opportunity for faculty consultation on the draft, and
their unwillingness to discuss with us the merits of various proposals, we
must conclude that they intend to move forward on this proposal.
At this point, we can only summarize the major parts of the proposal.
Other details will be provided later. Major points are:
1. FIRING FACULTY IN CASE OF PROGRAM CHANGE. The proposal eliminates
the tenure protection currently available in cases of program change. It
--60 days' notice of programmatic change. (There is no other
provision for faculty participation in these decisions.)
--reassignment or retraining of tenured faculty, unless "in the
University's judgment" this would be "not practicable." (Note that it does
not require that reassignment or retrainging be "impracticable," but only
that the "University's judgment" be such. Give the distinction of
the Regents' Washington lawyers who prepared this language, it is
apparent that the intent was to exclude any subsequent review of the
--one year's notice of termination be given.
--there is no definition of "program," so a single faculty member
could be targeted by defining that individual's specialization for
2. REDUCTIONS IN BASE PAY. The proposal eliminates the guarantee of
base pay contained in the current regulations. Instead, it would provide
that "Absent reasons found to be compelling by the Board of Regents or its
delegate," "it is expected that" base pay would be protected. Again,
carefully note the drafting. The first of these clauses does NOT require
"compelling reasons" before reducing base pay; it only requires that the
administrator STATE that his reasons are compelling. The second clause
does not guarantee base salary, but only articulates a general and vague
expectation in that regard. The language eliminates any legal claim to
The language, as drafted, would permit reductions of salary targeted
at single individuals. (The statement in the Star-Tribune this
morning that such pay cuts could only be imposed on groups of
faculty, not on individuals, was apparently based on the oral
statements of the Regents' lawyer in describing the plan. An
examination of the actual text reveals no such limitation.) Indeed,
the new languageprovides no effective protection of
salary. The provision also cuts off any review of such issues by the
Judicial Committee, even in cases of alleged violation of academic
3. POST TENURE REVIEW. The post tenure review process has been
substantially rewritten. Rather than the remedial process we proposed,
seeking to improve the performance of faculty experiencing difficulties,
the provision in now primarily punitive in orientation, emphasizing
dismissal and salary reduction. It now permits annual 10% salary
reductions ad infinitum. Many of the procedural protections have been
4. FACULTY DISCIPLINE. The faculty discipline section represents a
radical departure from existing rules. It introduces surprising new
language. For example, faculty members may be punished if they do not
"maintain . . . a proper attitude of industry and cooperation with others
within and without the University community." Discipline, including
dismissal may be imposed when "commonly held standards of conduct" (not
further specified) are violated. A new ground for firing a faculty member,
"other grave misconduct" is added.
A whole new category of "lesser sanctions" is created, including
PAY CUTS (which may be permanent and are not limited in amount)
and suspensions from duty. These may be
imposed by the administrator after notice and an opportunity to respond,
but the discipline "need not involve formal proceedings of any kind." For
example, this would authorize a dean to impose a permanent 50% pay cut
without a hearing before an impartial body. The Judicial Committee is also
excluded from review of these actions, although the faculty member
might file a grievance with an outside arbitrator.
5. JUDICIAL COMMITTEE PROCEDURES. Although access to the Judicial
Committee has been cut off in many cases--including many possible cases
involving academic freedom issues--new major restrictions are imposed upon
the operation of the Judicial Committee. These include:
--Judicial committee proceedings will be presided over by a law
officer, who must not be a faculty member.
--The President will no longer be required to respect the Judicial
Committee's report and recommendation. The current regulations contain a
legal limitation (he can overrule the committee only for "compelling reasons")
and a procedural check (he can do so only after meeting with the Judicial
Committee). The Regents' draft deletes both provisions, giving the
President total freedom to ignore the hearing panel's report.
--The new draft permits a dean to suspend a faculty member without
pay, in certain circumstances, while a proceeding to dismiss is underway.
* * *
Two other points should be made:
Some of the proposed changes track language in other universities'
tenure regulations. But those universities may have long-established
practices or other policies that effectively limit the exercise of the
power granted by the tenure codes there. If we adopt the bare language of
those universities, but not the other limitations that exist there,
we will be deviating sharply from the norm. There seems to be no
effort to simultaneously adopt the practices of other institutions.
Given the radical nature of these changes, this is not merely an
attempt to respond to the Faculty Senate proposals. It seeks to
impose a radical changes in the relations of faculty, administration,
and Regents. Given the controversy that has been generated, we must
assume that the Board intends to exercise fully the powers that they
are creating by these changes.
Take these proposals seriously and act accordingly. The Regents intend
to act on them on October 10.
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