Kellie Woodhouse of InsideHigherEd has the story, here:
At most universities, vice presidents and other executives are at-will employees and serve at the behest of the school’s leader.
“You don’t get to keep the job even though you may not be compatible with the desires of the new president,” Sharp said. “No one expects the new president to choose them just because they’ve been working there before. These are very high-level positions. These are not positions that are lifetime jobs.”
The letter, he says, formalizes an already existing practice of new presidents culling their leadership team. Sharp said about 15 vice presidents and advisers have been asked to submit letters.
“It’s easier on the president. It causes a lot less conflict,” he explained. “This makes sure that everyone understands the rules of the game.”
This is at Texas A&M. At UO, presidential staff typically sign one-year contracts, and VP’s and such get 3-year contracts. The timing of the contract renewals is particularly awkward for the transition. New President Michael Schill starts on July 1. But the JH administration contracts expire June 30th, and are typically renewed a few weeks before that. So Schill may well get stuck with JH staff and VPs that he can only fire if he buys out their contract.
The worst example of this I know of was former UO Provost Jim Bean. Interim President Bob Berdahl knew Bean wasn’t up to the job, but gave him a three year renewal just before he left office – apparently as a parting stick-in-the-eye to the faculty. The Senate exploded, and in the face of demands for a performance review and a threatened no-confidence vote new President Mike Gottfredson had to replace him with Scott Coltrane, and then still pay Bean for another two years.