09/28/2009

In Win for AFT Locals, Kentucky Regents Restore Tenure

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The Kentucky Community and Technical College System Board of Regents voted Sept. 24 to reverse its March 2009 decision to end tenure in the KCTCS system. The action came a day after the state's attorney general issued an advisory opinion saying that the board had overstepped its authority.

"While the KCTCS Board of Regents has the authority to enact procedures and standards for how faculty can earn tenure in the future," Attorney General Jack Conway wrote, "it is not free to eliminate tenure entirely."

Faculty in the 16-college system had channeled their outrage when the board abolished tenure. Working through their two AFT-affiliated organizations, the Community College Faculty and Staff Alliance and the Technical Faculty and Staff Alliance, they rallied colleagues all spring. By summer, all the colleges' faculty senates had passed resolutions of no confidence in system president Michael B. McCall and the board.

"We are extremely pleased that the KCTCS Board of Regents has made the decision to restore tenure and abide by the legal opinion issued by the Kentucky attorney general." says David Cooper, president of the Community College Faculty and Staff Alliance. "It was always our opinion, as well, that the board had exceeded its legal authority when it abolished tenure last March. Union members did a fantastic job of organizing votes of no confidence, contacting legislators and board members, and working with the media to bring about this result."

"This decision will ensure that professors have the job security and academic freedom necessary to address challenging subjects and maintain the high standards that are essential for student success," says AFT president Randi Weingarten "This is a big win for college students in Kentucky and a big win for fairness for faculty."

In addition to reversing the policy decision, the board authorized one of its subcommittees to review the tenure policy. FSA director Barbara Ashley says that the union found that decision "puzzling."

"The rigorous tenure review process that has been in place is comparable to that used by most institutions of higher education," Ashley notes. "We expect that whatever modifications are made will result in a valid and viable tenure system for KCTCS. If it does not, we will continue to hold all legal and legislative options open."

September 28, 2009