The New York Times reports on Scott Walker’s efforts to eliminate tenure at Wisconsin’s state universities:
A committee of lawmakers last week approved along party lines a proposal that would remove the notion of tenure in the university system from state statute, leaving the sensitive matter to the state’s Board of Regents, which oversees the system’s 13 four-year universities and some 180,000 students.Following those paragraphs, a comment from State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R): “The reality is that we are not eliminating tenure.”
Under the proposal, the board’s 18 members — 16 of whom are appointed by the governor subject to the confirmation of the State Senate — would be permitted to set a standard by which they could fire a tenured faculty member “when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision requiring program discontinuance, curtailment, modification or redirection,” not only in the case of just cause or a financial emergency, as permitted previously. Critics deemed it tenure with no actual promise of tenure.
No, the reality is that they are eliminating tenure, or attempting to. “Program discontinuance, curtailment, modification or redirection” could mean anything from cutting single courses to cutting whole disciplines and departments.
Here in Illinois, I anticipate a similar effort to eliminate tenure, packaged, of course, as “tenure reform.” Bruce Rauner, Illinois’s version of Scott Walker, has pronounced tenure “a flawed concept.”