2 colleges removed from censure list

National instructors group had faulted CCBC, MICA for issues surrounding tenure

June 15, 2006|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

A national organization of college instructors has removed two Baltimore-area institutions from a list of those that it said failed to abide by tenets of academic freedom and tenure, more than a decade after the schools were sanctioned.

Members of the American Association of University Professors voted at the organization's annual meeting Saturday to remove the Community College of Baltimore County and the Maryland Institute College of Art from its censure list.

The organization censured what was then Essex Community College in 1995 after four tenured professors were dismissed and the school eliminated its tenure system. MICA's sanction in 1988 stemmed from the firing of a professor who had taught there for 18 years.

Tenure, defined as keeping a job without periodic contract renewals, allows faculty at colleges and universities to conduct research without fear of reprisal or penalty for espousing unpopular views.

"Both [schools] were very responsive this last year to our efforts from our side to get these matters resolved," said B. Robert Kreiser, senior program officer for the instructors' group.

Essex Community College was consolidated with Catonsville and Dundalk community colleges in the late 1990s to become the Community College of Baltimore County.

"We worked hard this semester with the College Senate to make sure we could finally put this chapter of our history behind us," CCBC Chancellor Sandra Kurtinitis said.

Although the censure did not impede the school's activities, "there really is a moral sting to it that does cast negative aspersions on the college," Kurtinitis said.

"We now have provisions in place that ensure due process to affected faculty and staff, while at the same time keeping final decision-making authority where it really does lie," with the chancellor and other administrators, she said.

Stewart Eidel, one of the professors dismissed in 1993, taught hotel and restaurant management at Essex until the school closed the program, noting budget cuts. He was given a position in continuing education at the community college, where he stayed for one year.

Now working in the school and community nutrition program for the state department of education, Eidel said he has put the episode behind him. "I hope it serves [the faculty] well in having greater representation and collaboration with the administration of the college," Eidel said.

Often, the process of censure removal doesn't happen until after a school's administration has changed, Kreiser said. CCBC's administration has changed twice since the school was censured, he said.

Unlike other colleges, MICA has never had a system of rank or tenure, which complicated the situation for years, said college President Fred Lazarus. Instead, the school offers its instructors three- and five-year contracts.

"It allows us to continue to monitor the performance of a faculty member," Lazarus said. At the same time, an instructor's career is not dependent on a one-time review, as it is at schools that use tenure, he said.

This year, the school was able to provide some assurance that MICA offers the same sort of protections for faculty that institutions with tenure have. The organization gave the art school "some clarity" about what changes would make the organization more comfortable about academic freedom and job security there, Lazarus said.

Being censured "hasn't been an issue in terms of the relationship with the faculty, but it's something that we all wanted to see cleaned up," he said. "This is off both our books, so to speak. I hope that we won't have to deal with it ever again."liz.kay@baltsun.com

Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

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