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Admin’s plan to weaken tenure – Faculty Union on bargaining MMXX-IV

Chuck Lillis and his Board of Trustees’ magic tonic for all that ails UO – get rid of tenure.

In a nutshell, the Administration wants to be able to reduce the FTE of tenured faculty to as little as 0.2 FTE, if their department head decides they’d been warned and failed to improve. The Union is OK with reducing the research FTE for deadwood, but wants it made up with more teaching or administrative work. Complete UAUO post here, with much more, including a proposal allowing UO to offer “indefinite appointment” – i.e. tenure – to Career/NTTF teaching faculty, after a long and rigorous review. The short version:

Executive Summary

The administration bargaining team proposed that tenured faculty could have their FTE reduced to 0.6, 0.4, or 0.2 FTE after an unsuccessful third-year post-tenure review. They also proposed to define the “review period” for promotion reviews be the last six years only.

The United Academics bargaining team proposed a new “Teaching Professor” position. Senior II Instructors and Lecturers can ask for an intensive teaching review that would assess teaching skill and pedagogical philosophy. Successful candidates would have an indefinite appointment.

We also proposed that Career faculty FTE could only be lowered by a maximum of 0.2 FTE (based on the prior year) upon renewal and that FTE had to be the same through all years of a contract.

The Union will respond to the Administration’s proposal for a de facto end to tenure this Th, 12-3 in 125 Chiles.



  1. Dog 02/03/2020

    The UO would simply not retain any long term faculty with this proposed FTE reduction.

    The measure of deadwood is also highly suspect. One can argue that any one is basically deadwood.

    • XDH 02/03/2020

      Bullcrap. Having been in a department with multiple deadwood research faculty over the years, I for one would heartily support upping the teaching/administrative load on research inactive members. The real troublesome cases would be the ones that not only suck at research but also suck at teaching and administration. In those cases FTE reduction is completely appropriate. That said, in a quarter century at UO I can say exactly ONE person of out 50+ current and past faculty members in my department would have qualified.

      • Dog 02/03/2020

        I agree with the fact research inactive faculty exist – but that doesn’t make them deadwood and yes they be reassigned a higher teach load – that is common sense and I never said it wasn’t. What I said is the measure of deadwood is often quite biased – are these research inactive faculty really not contributing in other ways – or they really deadwood. If they suck at research and suck at teaching then they should have never gotten tenure – this is an obscene retrofit – one day it will apply to you XDH …

        • XDH 02/03/2020

          Baloney – research inactive faculty are indeed dead wood and should be pruned possible IF they do not step up and serve in other roles, i.e., additional service, additional teaching, etc. I completely agree that those that suck in all avenues should not have gotten tenure, but my one vote out of 20+ votes of tenured faculty does not carry the day. Dogs should know this.

          I respectfully disagree with the measure of deadwood being biased. A broad, well-documented, metrics-based analysis of activity within ones department would very likely not be biased.

          And yes, someday I will become that dead wood, and when that happens, I will gladly volunteer to teach yet another 200+ person undergrad course as penance for my deadwoodedness, unlike others who bitch about how “unfair” this is.

  2. RCO 02/03/2020

    This ends tenure. Tenure means you can only be terminated for cause, or for financial exigency. Explain to me how a reduction from 40 hours a week to 8, with the attendant 80% salary reduction, is not akin to termination? For that matter, even a reduction to 0.8 FTE, if not for cause or financial exigency, goes directly against what all professors understand tenure to mean.

    • Oryx 02/04/2020

      Having FTE reduced with this procedure is “for cause,” since it proceeds from an evaluation process that assesses faculty activity.
      You might argue that if this FTE reduction is for cause, we could use the same cause to sack people who have tenure already. I think that is true. I have always been shocked that the university doesn’t get rid of faculty who do nothing, no research output, refusal or ineptness on committees, etc. There are very few of these people, but it’s a drag on everyone else, and it violates the agreement of tenured contracts as they are written. But maybe this new arrangement somehow provides a better path, rather than all or nothing, for dealing with this. Maybe now we’ll actually do something.

      • RCO 02/04/2020

        Please familiarize yourself with the meaning of “just cause” in tenured faculty termination cases. There is legal precedent there. And your definition of cause would render tenure meaningless.

        There are in fact cause-based procedures already in place for disciplining faculty who refuse to do their jobs (whether administrators are opting to use them in all cases or not is a different story – remember it’s the administration that runs the university so any “deadwood” is on them). The existing procedures are thorough, involve extensive documentation, and make it so that tenured faculty can’t be terminated just because administrators arbitrarily decide they are “performing poorly.”

        This FTE reduction plan represents a bad faith end-run around all of that. It would make UO an outlier in the AAU and a laboratory for fringe and, dare-I-say, radical right-wing ideas about higher education and academic freedom. And, frankly, I’m not sure it would withstand the inevitable lawsuits, since termination only for cause or financial exigency is written into tenured professors’ legal contract with the university.

        • Oryx 02/05/2020

          Thanks. Yes, I’m sure there’s a lot of legal precedent I am unfamiliar with. I also agree that it would be disastrous if decisions were made based on poorly thought out “metrics” from unproductive administrators. However I don’t think that evaluation and action are impossible or bad in themselves. I think we can do better than we’re now doing.

          On the general topic, I liked this:

          • commenter 02/05/2020

            “Evaluation and action” is code for effectively getting rid of tenure. If UO want’s to start hiring faculty that don’t have traditional tenure protections, they can go ahead and try to do that, but you can’t change the game now for existing faculty.

  3. (Dis)interested Outsider 02/04/2020

    If UO ever wants to hire faculty — to compete with other AAU institutions and hire the best researchers and scholars — they cannot have some harebrained tenure system that allows the institution to cut 80% of a tenured professor’s salary based on performance reviews.

    The word will get out very very quickly. It’s not just UO faculty that read things here, and will be reading the outcomes of these discussions.

    • prof from another school 02/04/2020

      I am an emeritus Distinguished Prof at another AAU public institution. ‘Outsider’ is quite correct that this proposed scheme is a real negation of tenure, and will hurt UOs ability to compete for quality research faculty and scholars. (But then so does UO’s desire to closely track faculty activities.) Other Univs seem to do ok with ‘dead wood ( research wise)’ without going to such extremes; they provide ways for those faculty to contribute + value. The longer I read UOM, the odder UO seems compared to the other research Univs I know. And I don’t mean the sports business.

  4. Eternal Skeptic 02/04/2020

    It needs to be crystal clear (to the union and the administration) that this is non-negotiable, period. Tenure means tenure. Find other ways to deal with deadwood, which exist and are a problem.

  5. Dog 02/04/2020

    I think in most real cases, FTE reduction of “deadwood” would amount to age discrimination.

  6. KyloRen 02/04/2020

    Doesn’t this highlight a bigger problem of contracts where 2/3 of the raises are across the board.

    Even if people choose to do LESS at their job, they’re getting paid more. Me and others have joked that the most rational thing to do at this university is to basically retire once you get to full. Because all of the additional work for the small merit raises probably isn’t worth it.

    Also other point.
    So both the union and admins are ok making it easier to fire TTFs, while the union has lobbied hard for years to maker it harder to fire NTTFs. Whos running the union again and what do they care about?

    • Environmental necessity 02/04/2020

      That is not even close to the union’s position. But the admins no doubt appreciate your comment.

      • KyloRen 02/04/2020

        Revealed positions vs stated positions.

        Union is revealing they care more about giving ASA funds to part time NTTf faculty then protecting tenure. Convince me otherwise.

        • Environmental necessity 02/05/2020

          Read the union proposal yourself. The admins want to be able to reduce FTE for so-called research deadwood. The union proposal is to keep the FTE but shift responsibilities. One proposal reduces pay and maybe benefits. The other does not. Neither proposes outright termination. Tenure is not a license to work half time and receive fulltime pay and benefits.

          • Kyloren 02/05/2020

            Key question:

            Is the extent to which TTF kill themselves to get tenure what is expect full time after tenure? I put in many 60-70 hour work weeks when I was at critical points. Surely you don’t expect faculty to work 60-70 hours a week including summer months where they aren’t paid. We’re on a 9 month contract but do you expect 12 month work at 60 hours a week?

            • Dog 02/05/2020

              While brief and a bit diluted (sorry) I think this point is important. I know that my department tends to use the
              same set of metrics for whatever stage of one’s career
              a particular faculty is at. There is no evolutionary template available or is there even any demonstrable thinking that evaluation of an associate professor and a full professor that has been tenured for 20 years using the exact same “formula” is myopic and unfair.

              • KyloRen 02/05/2020

                Plus the university and departments expects associates and fulls to do more service, be on committees, senate, etc. Likewise we write more letters for promotion, referees more papers, are on grant review committees, etc.

                We shield assistant profs from the university service internal and external and yet we are expected to keep up the same level of productivity we had briefly in our 30s when our career was on the line and we had minimal obligations? I know a lot of the NTTF faculty might assume tenured faculty are lazy, but maybe they don’t know about how time consuming these external things if you do, God forbid, become a leader in your field. And yet UO doesn’t have enough course releases to release people from teaching if they are an editor at a journal.

                • Oryx 02/05/2020

                  Your whining isn’t doing TTFs any favors.

                • Dog 02/06/2020

                  what does a TTF favor look like?

  7. Dog 02/04/2020

    “Me and others have joked that the most rational thing to do at this university is to basically retire once you get to full [after the Union started determining raises].

    Indeed, this is exactly what I did – back in my days of research activeness (I am still quite active but now publish in different areas so I am viewed as deadwood) I would get raises of 7-10% a year – since the Union raises, while yes, my productivity has falling off in research by about 1/3 but after the initial Union corrections of 2014, all subsequent raises have been at most, 3% and averaged over this time, are less than the West Coast Inflation Rate.

    It is debatable whether or not significant merit raises are an adequate incentive for increasing one’s research output but clearly, that point is moot now.

  8. Diogenes 02/04/2020

    Let’s start by getting rid of all the deadwood former administrators (Shelton, Davis, etc.) who continue to pull in hefty salaries for little work as “consultants” long after they have retired. Or how about the deadwood former football coaches, whose golden parachutes guarantee them a huge payout for years for doing absolutely nothing for the university?!? If the union supports this Chuck Lillis-sponsored, tenure-destroying proposal, then what good is the union?

  9. honest Uncle Bernie 02/04/2020

    Clarification requested. The UAUO website says

    “The administration bargaining team proposed that tenured faculty could have their FTE reduced to 0.6, 0.4, or 0.2 FTE after an unsuccessful third-year post-tenure review.”

    Are they really proposing what effectively is termination after a three-year review (in between 6 year reviews)?

    Or should it read “after a third unsuccessful post-tenure review”?

  10. don't give an inch 02/04/2020

    The union can’t give an inch on tenure protections.

  11. Anonymous 02/04/2020

    It is from the deadwood that the mushroom grows.

  12. Dog 02/04/2020

    yes we need the Brad Shelton metric for woodness to map into FTE.

    Deadwood goes to 0.5 since your being declared only 1/2 a faculty’s worth.

    What about super livewood, can I get an 1.5 FTE

    This whole thing is ludicrous to assign FTE based on some productivity metric and applied more or less uniformly. Watch out if you don’t do math, by far the most productive of any academic department …

    • Anonymous 02/04/2020

      Why can’t we have the like button back?

    • anon and on and on 02/10/2020

      Given that I am witnessing a case where particular heads have it in for a faculty member who dared to oppose them (thankfully not in my units), this kind of punitive measure can be incredibly easily abused. Combined with the mass crunch of qualitative data in the ‘new’ eval system and the implied duty of the ‘reflection’ system for teaching, I suspect this may make systemic bias a little better but personal bias in PTR related matters far, far, far worse in these kinds of situations. I’m very research active, and my department is sane, but I will be looking around for a parachute if tenure is compromised in this way, as will many of the other established associate professors in my two units. At least, that’s the consensus from the alcohol-soaked klatsch sessions we’ve been having.

      We’re already anxious wrecks from trying to keep up with everything plus the new demands for this and that certification, while angling for promotion someday, and adding another capricious strike against our job security (without any benefit to offset it) is just stupid. They can’t possibly have thought it would be acceptable in any way, so what odious thing are they trying to make look like a concession in comparison?

      • Dog 02/10/2020

        yes and in many of the comments on this thread this basic point seems not to be recognized, or at least in the minds of some of the commentators, your definite future:

        if you are an associate professor that has recently gotten tenure why the hell would you not start an exit plan now given that you inevitable career as a UO full professor would end up in a reduced FTE rate.

        Maybe the whole plan here is that only Knight Campus faculty will be deemed NOT deadwood

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