Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chancellor misleads on financial exigency for UNO | News | Chancellor says UNO must act quickly to stem 'panic' of faculty:
"New Orleans’ largest university is shrinking.

State spending cuts and a drop in tuition revenue following Hurricane Katrina will force the University of New Orleans to shed programs and faculty, the chancellor said Wednesday.

Chancellor Tim Ryan offered no hard-and-fast plan for what departments will be hit, but said he must act quickly.

“There’s panic on the part of the faculty because we can’t tell what areas will be cut. They all assume they’ll be eliminated,” Ryan said. “They all start sending their résumés out.”"

There is in fact no "panic" among UNO faculty. There is, instead, a healthy distrust of the motives of the administration of that institution, which speaks with one voice in private and another in public.

In fact the administration at SUNO and LSU Health Center have not been using the term "financial exigency" which would preserve some faculty rights, and which the faculty leaders of the Association of Louisiana Faculty Senates (ALFS) and the AAUP have been urging. Instead, they have used the term "FORCE MAJEURE" which would invalidate all contractual obligations and leave the universities free to lay off or fire faculty at will. Dr. Bill Stewart, president of ALFS, has learned that UNO will be using the same process to cut its faculty down to size. He has written a letter of protest to Chancellor Jenkins, advising him of the real hazards involved in terminating faculty without peer review or other traditional academic safeguards, and asking him to work with the faculty to find the best way to make the cuts which faculty representatives acknowledge are necessary.

Why is this important to the general public? Such a move would make it extremely difficult to hire new faculty, especially in competitive fields, since prospective hires would know that the state and the various boards of higher education will not stand behind their promises. The best candidates for employment will choose to work at institutions which they know will stand behind the traditional academic guarantees of peer review and tenure.

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