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Trustees take employment and tenure decisions from faculty

Miami University’s Board of Trustees (BoT) drew controversy by writing a new clause granting the board full responsibility for determining the terms of employment and tenure for faculty after its Feb. 20 meeting.

The BoT also approved additional resolutions to split Kinesiology and Health (KNH) and Sport Leadership and Management (SLAM) into two separate departments, dissolve the Department of Classics, and modify the cap on teaching, clinical professors and lecturers (TCPLs).

University Senate unanimously endorsed both the partitioning of KNH and SLAM and the consolidation of the Department of Classics at its meeting on Oct. 7, 2019. And, now that the board’s decision has been finalized, students can still study Classics, but the major will be housed under the Department of French and Italian. 

Senate approved a resolution to replace the university-wide 25 percent cap on TCPLs with different caps for each academic division at its meeting on Jan. 27.

The trustees approved both of these recommendations, and they will take effect for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The BoT also added a clause to the employment section of their regulations stating that “The Board retains full authority for policies that govern the terms and conditions of employment and tenure of the faculty.”

Cathy Wagner, president of Miami’s American Association of University Professors advocacy chapter, raised objections to this addition in a statement given during the meeting.

Wagner said that the clause is redundant because Ohio law already gives the Trustees total power over all university matters.

Most peer institutions delegate power over tenure policy to faculty members, but Miami deviates from national norms by not explicitly making such a delegation.

“If [the Trustees] don't specifically say that they value [faculty expertise] and they only say that they have the right to make the decision, then it feels like they’re not paying proper dues to faculty’s role and the importance of the faculty’s disciplinary expertise in making tenure recommendations,” Wagner said.

Wagner said that David Budig, chair of the BoT, reacted positively to her statement and said that they would consider it during their discussion of the policy.

However, the clause was not removed or changed.

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Budig said he was unable to comment on the outcome of the meeting due to travel plans and instead referred The Student to Ted Pickerill, secretary to the board.

Pickerill wrote in an email to The Student that “The Board’s recent review of its regulations retained the Board’s on-going commitment to shared governance with University Senate and Faculty Assembly as well as expressly affirming its role in approving the terms of employment for faculty.”

Pickerill did not comment directly on why the BoT did not align with Wagner’s suggestion.