Friday, January 29, 2010

Faculty Layoffs: Who and When?

A quick Google search of "university faculty layoffs" (without the quotation marks) reveals many recent news stories on state universities terminating faculty and staff.

For those who want to know the typical scenario, there are standards set by the AAUP, the American Council on Education, and legal precedent ("protected classes," including those over age 40 have special consideration under the law).

The best guide I found was from the American Council on Education.

The following is a typical situation explaining who is most likely to be laid off and in what order. This layoff procedure is from Wayne State (where a previous SIUC provost went) and fairly typical of unionized colleges:

"A. Faculty Layoffs

1. Normally, part-time faculty will be laid off first followed by lecturers. In unusual circumstances when special experience is essential to the unit, a full-time or fractional-time faculty member may be laid off, while the part-time faculty member is retained. If the budgetary constraints prove it impossible to staff the range of courses with the full-time and/or fractional-time faculty, then the full-time and fractional-time faculty may be offered the opportunity to teach the courses on an overload basis without additional compensation rather than to use part-time faculty during the academic year.

2. Additional faculty layoffs shall occur in the following order: (a) non-tenure-track faculty by rank and (within rank) by length of service at the University, (b) untenured faculty on tenure track by rank and (within rank) by length of service at the University, (c) tenured faculty by rank and (within rank) by length of service at the University. For purposes of this paragraph, untenured lecturers and senior lecturers with more than seven years service shall be treated as tenured faculty."

Life is not simple when it comes to layoffs, particularly when tenure and unions are involved. The wise faculty member will consult their union representative (if they have a union), read their state education labor law, and do what I have done--consult with a lawyer.

"Hope for the best, plan for the worst" is the motto for these times.


PeterG said...

I feel that a 1% layoff for all public employees per year is the right course of action. Not just at universities, but for every level of the pubic sector.

If you made me bet, I feel that SIU could layoff 10% of all employees and gain in total productivity. That is assuming that the deadwood was laid off and it wasn't political nonsense, which would be difficult at SIU.

Wouldn't it be great to layoff the deadwood and replace them with people who worked? Just think about the culture change, from the threat of a very small layoff.

i-History said...


Adam Smith would agree: He was a big advocate of public education for the masses (a radical idea in 1770s) but deadset against tenure and public school monopolies.

Is one percent enough? After all, that is below the retirement/attrition rate.

SIU is "special," as you note -- and having 18 unions isn't a recipe for avoiding "nonsense." Of course we have 18 unions because of bad management in the past.

Jon Bean