UW faculty concerned about mass exodus over tenure elimination
The University of Wisconsin has weathered years of budget cuts, but many faculty members believe the elimination of tenure would be a tipping point. The elimination of tenure is being recommended in legislation adopted by the Joint Finance Committee.
“Tenure is important for a lot of reasons but the main one is it allows academic innovation to occur,” says Donald Moynihan, a professor of public affairs at UW Madison. “This is about protecting the University of Wisconsin system. It is about maintaining the value of a UW degree.”
Some 361 professors signed a petition asking the Board of Regents to reject the elimination of tenure. Instead the Board of Regents voted against formally opposing the changes to faculty tenure.
“People are absolutely panicking. People are getting text and email from other universities to see if they are interested in leaving,” says Pamela Herd, a professor of public affairs at UW Madison.
“I’ve been contacted by two universities in the last 48 hours and I’ve talked to other faculty who has also received contacts from other institutions,” says Moynihan.
The elimination of tenure could make other universities and research institutions more attractive to faculty at UW.
“This is going to happen very quickly, within a couple of years if UW Madison and the UW System don’t keep a robust version of tenure. You’re going to see these faculty poached away,” says Moynihan.
Moynihan says the loss of those top faculty members could make a troubled financial situation for the university even tougher.
“Thirty percent of the UW Madison budget comes from federal research grants. If star faculty, who won those grants depart that is going to create a huge fiscal problem for the university,” says Moynihan.