University of Minnesota drops easier dismissal plan But tenure measure passes for law school faculty

November 17, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

After months of protest by faculty members, the University of Minnesota's governing board of regents has abandoned a plan to make it easier to dismiss tenured professors from most of its campuses, but it passed such a measure for the law school.

The regents had sought the authority to dismiss professors whose programs were eliminated and to cut salaries for reasons other than financial emergency.

Tenured professors now have lifetime employment unless a financial emergency is declared or in a case of individual misconduct.

"It's the sense of this board, as I see it," Tom Reagan, chairman of the board of regents, said last week, "that we will not be revisiting the tenure code for at least a year and a half and probably never."

The Minnesota faculty, whose 3,000 professors teach 67,000 students at campuses in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth, Morris and Crookston, condemned the plan.

The university president, Nils Hasselmo, also opposed it, warning of "serious, unnecessary and lasting damage to the university." In a letter to the board, he said that if the proposal was enacted the university would "not be able to successfully compete in the academic marketplace at a time when we face many retirements and will need to recruit significant numbers of new faculty."

The 12-member board of regents announced the tenure plan in September, but faculty members quickly tried to maneuver around the board by invoking their rights under state labor laws.

The 3,000 professors at Minnesota's four campuses are not unionized; but faced with the proposal, they began efforts to form a union.

As a result, the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services barred the regents from acting until after the faculty vote on union membership, scheduled for January 1997.

The law school regulations, under a compromise worked out by the law school dean, Thomas Sullivan, permit tenured professors to stay on the payroll when programs are cut if they accept reassignment.

vTC Previously, layoffs could be made only if a financial emergency was declared. The new policy also makes it easier to cut pay in times of financial distress.

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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