OK perhaps I’m being a little unfair, I suppose Stalinist might be a more accurate description.
For as long as I can remember UO has had the same leave without pay policy as many of our comparators: faculty can leave for a year to try out a job at another university without giving up their tenure. (Not all: Some universities don’t allow this, at least one is more generous and says no more than two years without special approval).
So if that new department isn’t as great in reality as they made it out to be when they were recruiting, you know you’ve still got a place at UO.
I have two colleagues who took advantage of this, trying out new jobs and then deciding that, actually, Eugene and UO were the best place for them. They are now happy department members, and whenever someone else thinks of leaving they serve as proof that for all its faults, UO was not a dysfunctional totalitarian dictatorship that needed to build a wall to keep its people from fleeing to freedom.
But that was then. This February new CAS Dean Chris Poulsen decided that rather than boosting faculty retention with better working conditions or higher pay, he’d just take away this LWOP policy. And that’s not all – he also announced that henceforth faculty taking a LWOP could be forced to return to UO for a full year afterwards – even if the LWOP was for say medical reasons.
From what I can tell there was virtually no discussion of these changes with the faculty or the union. Heads seem to have been haphazardly informed, after the decision was made. The union only discovered these changes by chance – someone noticed that the CAS policy page had been updated, and then followed the timeline to see that it had been done at Poulsen’s direction. The UO Senate was never told. The CAS Caucus heard about it a few months after the fact, and only after I asked for it to be added to the agenda.
You can find the old policy here, with the changes. Kudos to the CAS staff for their excellent documentation, which should be a model for the OtP:
02/22/2023 – 9:09am by burridge
Updated policy at the request of Chris Poulsen/Deans. Removed section “LWOP to evaluate a position at another institution”
The faculty union pushed back and was able to rescind the requirement to return for a year, on the grounds that it sounded too much like something out of North Korea – no disrespect to Glorious Leader Kim Jong Un intended.
04/19/2023 – 4:14pm by burridge
Removed text: If LWOP is approved, CAS may require that a faculty member return for at least one year of service upon completion of the leave.
But Poulsen wouldn’t restore the old LWOP policy. So if I understand this right the union will have to try and bargain for it – along with pay increases that might help with retention in a slightly less coercive way – during the next round of contract negotiations.