Law professors meet to discuss tenure

Jim Martyka

University Law School faculty members met privately Tuesday to consider action they might take regarding tenure proposals.
The gathering was one of several closed meetings recently held by various groups on the tenure issue. Last week, the Board of Regents met behind closed doors twice.
Members of a group pushing for faculty unionization, as well as a representative from the Faculty Consultative Committee, also attended the meeting.
“The whole purpose of these meetings is so the (Law School) faculty will be well-informed of the situation,” said Fred Morrison, a law professor.
About a dozen Law School faculty members discussed a proposal set forth by the regents, as well as one presented by Law School Dean E. Thomas Sullivan. Both proposals were distributed to the faculty last week.
Law School faculty members kept Tuesday’s meeting private even though professors from across the campus have protested the secrecy surrounding regent deliberations over tenure. Buttons distributed at last week’s regents meeting exclaimed, “Tenure Deliberations: Regents Secret; Professors Open.”
Participants were asked to express concerns or questions they might have about the proposals. Morrison said it was apparent that faculty felt the situation was complicated. “We met to try and sort out the situation,” he said.
Virginia Gray, a chair of the consultative committee, said she told members that the various subcommittees of that body plan to meet on the proposals this week. The full committee will pass the proposals on to the Faculty Senate.
Members of the American Association of University Professors and the United Faculty Alliance also spoke on collective bargaining and the benefits of unionization to the school’s faculty.
Tom Walsh, a co-founder of the United Faculty Alliance, said he urged faculty members to sign union cards to obtain a cease-and-desist order against the regents.
“I told them that these tenure proposals are a subterfuge for the regents to evade the cease-and-desist order,” he said.
Walsh said that he asked faculty not to participate in this charade by discussing the proposals.
Morrison said no action has been taken on the proposals and that no conclusion was reached at the meeting. But he also said that only 11 Law School faculty members — 30 percent of the faculty — need to file union cards to obtain a cease-and-desist order from the Bureau of Mediation Services.
Morrison said there will be another meeting in the near future. “After that, we will make our decision on what to do regarding these proposals,” he said.