The UNLV chapter wholeheartedly supports our colleagues and friends at UNR in this appeal to adhere to academic standards.
Nevada Faculty Alliance
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO CHAPTER
March 17, 2010
Dear President Glick and Provost Johnson:
I am writing to you on behalf of the UNR Nevada Faculty Alliance chapter to call attention to the long-standing principles established by the AAUP concerning the termination of tenured faculty. Specifically: According to Regulation 4d of the Recommended Institutional Regulations, termination of an appointment with continuous tenure, or of a probationary or special appointment before the end of the specified term, may occur as a result of bona fide formal discontinuance of a program or department of instruction. AAUP standards, however, distinguish between program discontinuance and program reduction. In the absence of financial exigency, AAUP standards do not permit the termination of tenured faculty appointments in order to reduce a program.
We realize those standards do not have the force of law, although they have been applied by some courts in situations where they have been codified. Those standards represent decades of thinking concerning the importance of tenure for American higher education, and those values are represented to a considerable degree, as you know, in the NSHE Code and UNR Bylaws.
During the last round of budget cuts, we worked cooperatively with the President, Provost, Chancellor and the Board of Regents to help our institution absorb the budget cuts. All non-tenured faculty (and classified staff) are taking one furlough (unpaid) day each month; 281 positions were eliminated; and tenured faculty increased their teaching loads by 19% (well above the required 4.6% increase). Other changes included the reorganization of some units and the combining of others to increase efficiency and reduce administrative costs.
Now we are facing another set of budget cuts, to the tune of $11 million. We understand the very difficult position that you are in as you implement the curricular review process that will inevitably result in the elimination of programs at UNR. We appreciate the degree to which faculty have been involved, as well as the lengthy and deliberative process that has been initiated under curricular review. However, we ask that the crucial value of tenure be protected as much as possible and that every effort be made to avoid the termination of tenured faculty. While this may not be possible in every instance, we think that many of the tenured faculty slated for possible termination will be able to be retained in a modified capacity that takes advantage of their unique qualifications and experience in higher education.
We urge that flexible criteria be used in making such determinations. We also recommend that college personnel committees be used to review those cases where faculty members apply for vacated or newly-created positions on campus. We further ask that those applicants be given the right of first refusal for positions for which they are qualified. The personnel committees would make recommendations to the Provost for a final determination of whether the fit was adequate to warrant employment in a new or vacated position.
We would welcome an opportunity to discuss these matters with you in the days ahead. Our major goal is to assist with the very grave concerns of the faculty who are being forced by these budgetary circumstances to defend their careers and indeed their very livelihoods. Another important goal is for the university to survive this very problematic time with the university and its reputation intact. That can best be done by a concerted effort to protect tenure rights as much as possible.
Thank you for your consideration of this important value.
UNR NFA President
On Behalf of the UNR NFA Executive Board