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Law School proposal rejected

The University’s Faculty Senate sent a message to the Board of Regents at its meeting Thursday by rejecting the regents’ tenure proposal for the Law School.
But, after a close vote, they also left the door open for the regents to offer another solution.
After senators expressed concerns and voiced their opinions, they passed a resolution to the regents that called for them to “take no action regarding any revisions to the tenure code” for the Law School. More than 100 members in attendance voted on the resolution along with members from Duluth, Crookston and Morris who participated via satellite.
The resolution explains that the school’s tenure code is in no immediate need of revision.
The resolution was presented by Virginia Gray, who co-chairs the Faculty Consultative Committee. She said this resolution, which is almost identical to one passed by the faculty’s Judicial Committee earlier this week, was an attempt to find a “good compromise” between resolutions and motions that have been passed on to the senate for its review.
The resolution was divided into three sections that were addressed separately at the meeting. The first section requested that the regents do nothing to the tenure code passed by a vote of 121-1.
The second section of the resolution tells the regents that if they do chose to take action, they must reject the Law School proposal, which was proposed earlier this month, in its entirety and adopt the tenure code revisions recommended by the Faculty Senate in June of this year.
Some senators strongly urged their colleagues to pass this section, stressing that it was important for the faculty to clarify their position. “We must have a statement for the regents letting them know where we stand,” said Mary Dempsey, who co-chairs the consultative committee. This part of the resolution was passed by a 95-25 margin.
The third part of the resoultion was the most debated. It addressed Law School Dean Tom Sullivan’s proposal, which was also presented at the regents’ October meeting. The main difference between his proposal and the regents’ are in the layoff provisions.
The consultative committee’s original resolution asked for the regents to regard Sullivan’s proposal as a “good faith effort to find a reasonable compromise.” It also suggested that his proposal might be considered.
However, after several proposed changes to this section, senators changed the language to state that the regents not adopt the proposal as it is now, although it may provide the basis for “a possible alternative solution.”
It is this last part that had some of the senators concerned. One senator stood up and said that if they regard the Sullivan proposal as the basis for an alternative, all it does is weaken the stand of the faculty.
But law profesor Fred Morrison defended the latter part of the resolution, urging the senate “not to take the position of a stone wall” on the resolution. “There just may be something out there that could lead us to an agreement (with the regents),” he said.
Earlier, Ed Fogelman, co-chairman of the consultative committee, also stressed the importance of passing this resolution. “I urge you to adopt this to preserve the possibility for further action by the regents to provide an option other than unionization,” he said.
Currently, the Law School is the only part of the Twin Cities campus that has not turned in union cards. The rest of the campus is awaiting a union election that will likely take place in the next two months.
In a close vote, the third section of the resolution also passed 57-51.
Gray said the resolution will now be sent to the regents to review before their November meeting. At this time, unless the Law School files for collective bargaining and obtains a cease-and-desist order, the regents will make their decision on revisions to the school’s tenure code.
After the meeting, Morrison said the passing of the resolution was a positive step. “The senate expressed a willingness to remain open,” he said.
University President Nils Hasselmo, who also attended the meeting, said he was pleased at what he saw. “I have supported the faculty since their proposal in June,” he said. “And the Sullivan proposal, from my perspective, points in the right direction.”
The senate’s resolution is only a recommendation — one the regents are not required to ratify.

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