U to pay $25,000 for tenureadvice

Kaana Smith

The Board of Regents will pay a consulting team $25,000 to evaluate proposed changes in the University’s tenure code.
Dr. Richard P. Chait, director of the Center for Higher Education Governance and Leadership at the University of Maryland, and Cathy Trower, a research associate with the center, will work with the board during the summer and fall. No formal plan of action has been worked out.
Chait has worked extensively with academic tenure and faculty employment issues since 1974. Recently, he worked on tenure issues with regents at the University of Arizona and Arizona State and with faculty and administrators at public colleges and universities in Mississippi.
“Dr. Chait is considered a national expert on tenure,” University Regent Patricia Spence said. “We believe he will be a really good fit within the University community.”
Regent Spence spearheaded the selection process in April, sending out eleven requests for proposals to accounting firms and independent academic consultants around the nation.
Chait will be responsible for re-evaluating tenure proposals that are being finalized by the University’s Faculty Senate. Spence also said the consultant will review data and trends related to tenure.
Regents are scheduled to begin reviewing the Faculty Senate’s proposal in June.
The tenure review process has already undergone several changes. Recently, the Faculty Senate agreed to abandon an initial revision process that many felt lacked the voice of faculty members. But some say they feel that the move to hire the consultant could be a positive one.
“Most of the regents have not had anything to do, as individuals, with a faculty position,” said Dan Feeney, chairman of the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs. “You have to make sure that the regents will all be on a level playing field so that they all understand the ups and downs of the tenure decision.”
The committee, along with the Judicial Committee and the Senate’s Tenure Subcommittee, will be responsible for drafting a series of revisions to the existing tenure code for approval by the Faculty Senate at the end of May.
Feeney said some faculty members are critical of the University’s decision to hire an outsider to make important decisions about tenure.
But Feeney said he is optimistic that the consultant will respond to faculty needs.