Wisconsin Regents Approve Faculty Layoff Policy

April 11, 2016

The Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin System on Friday unanimously approved a set of amendments to a layoff policy for the Madison campus that many faculty members opposed. The changes -- such as the elimination of guaranteed severance and the stipulation that the university will “consider” alternative appointments faculty members pegged for layoffs for budgetary or educational reasons rather than “pursue” them -- were previously approved by the board’s Education Committee.

Ray Cross, system president, said the final Madison policy protects “the principles of academic freedom and sustain[s] the university’s standing in a competitive, global marketplace for faculty expertise.”

Campus Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who previously supported the faculty-backed layoff policy drafted in response to major changes to the legal definition of tenure in Wisconsin last year, said in a statement that what the regents approved “is consistent with our peers. This is important in our ability to recruit and retain our top faculty. … After a difficult nine months of debate, I hope everyone will give this new policy a chance.”

Faculty members on Twitter and elsewhere disagreed with those assessments, arguing that the changes made a significant dent in shared governance.

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