Kahn opposes tenure ‘tinkering’

Chris Vetter

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said the Board of Regents should leave the University’s tenure code alone.
If reelected on Nov. 5, Kahn said she will make sure that University concerns in general, and tenure specifically, are given high priority at the Capitol. Kahn has represented district 59B, which includes the entire Minneapolis campus except for Middlebrook Hall, for the past 24 years in the state Legislature.
“I am a strong opponent of tinkering with the tenure program,” Kahn said. She said she hopes the Legislature will work to keep the current tenure system in place during its next legislative session, which begins on Jan. 7, 1997, she said.
“I’ve spoken with most of the University area legislators, and they are very concerned with what the regents have done.”
What they have done, Kahn said, is steered the University down a dangerous economic path. “It’s a real mistake for the regents of the University of Minnesota to head in this direction,” Kahn said. “The regents don’t seem to understand the basic tenets of capitalism. If they offer a bad market, the good professors will go to a better market.”
The regents’ proposed revisions to the University tenure code last month would make it easier for tenured professors to be laid off during times of restructuring. The revisions would also put into place a system to deal with professors who fail to show “a proper attitude of industry and cooperation.” A faculty proposal in June included a tougher faculty post-tenure review process, but said nothing of stronger layoff authority for administrators.
Kahn is a former University professor in biophysics and genetics, and her husband Donald is currently a professor in the math department.
Kahn joins a growing list of influential members of the University community who oppose the regents’ proposal, a list which includes University President Nils Hasselmo and Regent Jean Keffeler, who released a letter Tuesday stating her belief that the regents should rescind their proposal.
Rep. Becky Kelso, DFL-Shakopee, who chairs the University of Minnesota Committee in the House, has also said she is hopeful the regents will drop their demands. But, Kelso said, she hopes something stronger than the faculty proposal is ultimately ratified.