Financial Emergency In Washington State Could Lead To Layoffs of Tenured Faculty

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    Oct 17, 2011 7:29 PM GMT
    More at the link. Tenure isn't quite what it used to be.

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/10/17/financial_emergency_in_washington_state_could_lead_to_layoffs_of_tenured_faculty

    It just got easier to lay off full-time faculty members in Washington State, thanks to a declaration of financial emergency last month by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. But some faculty leaders say the board’s move is more about a power grab than saving money.

    Either way, faculty members are worried about the possibility of layoffs. And some observers say other cash-strapped states could try similar maneuvers.

    A Washington law enacted in 1981 enables the board to declare a financial emergency if the state’s contribution to the two-year system is reduced compared to the previous budget. (Washington operates on a biennial budget cycle.) The declaration allows districts that oversee Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges to empower the campuses to dismiss tenure-track faculty members more quickly and easily -- essentially the same way the colleges can currently lay off adjuncts. Tenured instructors make up about half of the system’s faculty members, teaching roughly 55 percent of credit hours.

    These are extraordinarily challenging times, requiring us to make many difficult decisions, including this one,” said Sharon Fairchild, the board’s chair, in a written statement.

    This isn’t the first time the board has dropped the fiscal emergency bomb; it did so in the previous budget cycle. The system’s faculty unions contested that move, too, arguing that layoffs were unnecessary and not likely to occur.

    “The faculty just fought this tooth and nail the first time,” said Sandra Schroeder, president of the Washington State chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. “We told them that nobody needed it.”

    Only one college laid off full-time faculty members after that ruling. Schroeder said colleges don’t need the flexibility this time around, either, and that the board has used the financial emergency declaration as a weapon in ongoing faculty contract negotiations. “It destabilizes the bargaining table,” she said.

    However, she said the possibility of layoffs is more real now, and that the threat does not appear to be empty. There is a growing disconnect between faculty members and the board, Schroeder said; she called them “two groups of people talking completely different languages.”

    Charlie Earl, the board’s executive director, said presidents of the 34 institutions had strongly recommended that the board declare a financial emergency.

    “The presidents don’t know for certain how they’re going to meet these reductions,” Earl said. “They’re really out of options.”
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    Oct 17, 2011 9:04 PM GMT
    "when you become a professor, you'll serve on 5-6 committees where the administration will try to tell you just how much of your salary you can do with out and just how many more courses you could stand to teach in addition to your 60 hour work week just so they can increase the millionaire salary of the football coach."

    Truer words have never been spoken to me.
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    Oct 17, 2011 9:12 PM GMT
    Fountains said"when you become a professor, you'll serve on 5-6 committees where the administration will try to tell you just how much of your salary you can do with out and just how many more courses you could stand to teach in addition to your 60 hour work week just so they can increase the millionaire salary of the football coach."

    Truer words have never been spoken to me.


    But which I wonder brings in more alumni dollars? I mean I can understand the math/logic and I think it's silly just as I think that sometimes the things society values is silly but you can't beat alumni into donating more dollars to support faculty they don't believe need their support.

    Besides, the cost of education has continued to rise much faster than inflation - and that's probably not because of coaches who probably make money for the college.
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    Oct 17, 2011 9:33 PM GMT
    I don't actually disagree with you here. Just pointing to the absurdity of the matter. This may also have a tangential connection to why I'm getting so many papers from people who can't follow simple instructions.