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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, January 27, 2023

Faculty Senate approves UW-Madison tenure protections

The UW-Madison Faculty Senate approved several policy changes Monday meant to protect tenured positions from layoffs, termination and displacement in a way that gives more power to faculty members.

The revisions, according to a university press release, create policy changes that outline protections and procedures in the event of department curtailment, modification or redirection.

Under the revisions, the UW-Madison chancellor may only consider laying off or terminating a tenured or probationary faculty member if “extraordinary circumstances” led to program discontinuance, such as urgent financial necessity or educational reasons.

If a faculty member is displaced due to program restructuring, he or she will be placed in a position at a rank that is considered acceptable by the faculty member. In addition, any faculty member whose position is recommended for layoff or termination is entitled to a full hearing.

According to Steven Smith, secretary of faculty at UW-Madison, the Faculty Senate decided to kick-start these changes in response to new legislation passed earlier this year, which expanded the situations where it would be “deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision” to lay off or terminate faculty.

Smith said in an email the university and the UW System interpreted the legislation as allowing the university to control how it is implemented, and so passed the new policies as an interpretation of the legislation.

The UW System Board of Regents will consider the policy recommendations, and has indicated that a consistent policy throughout the system is preferable. Chancellor Rebecca Blank has expressed optimism that the Board of Regents will approve the changes.

“I still very much expect that we are going to end up at the system level and at UW-Madison with the strong protections that are before you today,” Blank said at Monday’s senate meeting, according to Smith. “I am hopeful this policy will end up being quite consistent with the regent statute.”

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