It's been more than a decade since Cary Nelson summed up his views on problems facing higher education in Manifesto of a Tenured Radical. As Nelson would be the first to admit, the issues he identified in that book have not changed -- or at least not in the direction he would want.
A coalition of academic associations is today issuing a joint statement calling on colleges to recognize that they have "one faculty" and to treat those off the tenure track as professionals, with pay, benefits, professional development and participation in governance.
One of the ultimate protections of being a tenured faculty member, historically, has been being immune from layoff in all but the most extraordinary circumstances. Under policies issued by the American Association of University Professors and largely accepted by higher education leaders, only institutions that declare "financial exigency" -- a state so dire that it "threatens the survival of the institution as a whole" -- can eliminate the jobs of tenured faculty members.