The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVII, Issue 31
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
May 3, 2002

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




Trustees back redefinition of tenure at
Worcester campus

by Sarah R. Buchholz, Chronicle staff

Cespite opposition from some Medical School faculty, the Board of Trustees passed a definition of tenure for faculty on the Worcester campus at its May 1 meeting on that campus.

     Karl White, chair of the board's committee on Academic Affairs and Student Affairs recommended the policy to the board, saying that the end of mandatory retirement and the need to staff a new research building on the campus, which would greatly increase the size of the tenured faculty, were two reasons the board should clarify the nature of tenure at the school.

     "In moving in this direction, the Medical School is in keeping with national developments," White said.

     The new policy "continues to define tenure as the 'right of continuous employment in an academic position subject to dismissal of suspension only for just cause'... [and] stipulates that tenure provides 'full academic salary.'"

     Full academic salary is defined as total salary minus any additional salary for administrative duties for tenured faculty who derive no income from clinical work. In the case of tenured faculty who receive compensation from clinical revenues, full academic salary is considered to be the lower of either the average salary of all tenured basic science faculty of the same rank in the Medical School or the total salary of the individual.

     In addition to defining the criteria of academic performance, the new policy outlines a process for reducing tenured faculty salaries of members who regularly perform at a substandard level and allows for two alternative policy options for faculty already employed by the school who do not wish to accept the standard policy.

     Among the objections to the policy by the steering committee of the UMass Worcester chapter of the American Association of University Professors were their contentions that most medical schools use traditional academic definitions of tenure; that the policy is unnecessary because the campus has a detenurization process in place; that the method used to produce the policy was not in keeping with earlier methods used to shape personnel documents; and that the timing for such a new policy is poor because of low morale on campus and the need to recruit new faculty.

     Amherst faculty said they do not think the Worcester policy will have any impact on tenure at the Amherst campus but were concerned about morale among their Worcester colleagues.

     "It won't really affect us," said Brian O'Connor, faculty delegate to the Board of Trustees, adding that he wished the Worcester administration had omitted the salary-reduction section.

     "Medical schools are one of a kind," said Ernest May, chair of the Intercampus Faculty Council. "They're not like the other campuses. Their governance procedures as they're written don't give faculty a strong enough voice.

     "In my personal opinion, the clause about the salary reductions is unnecessary, but it's a decent policy.

     "If people feel alienated, that'll be the worst result of the policy."

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