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Wayne State Moves to Fire 5 Tenured Professors

March 30, 2017

Wayne State University is trying to fire faculty members for allegedly using tenure as a shield against productivity in research, scholarship or teaching, The Detroit News reported. The first of five professors in line for termination began hearings this week. All are within the medical school, but the university reportedly is considering dismissing some outside the medical school, as well. The university announced in August that 37 medical faculty members could lose their jobs through retirement or termination for underperformance, and some two dozen professors have already left.

President M. Roy Wilson told The Detroit News that the dismissal hearings are about excellence and accountability, and that the professors facing the hearings are “grossly underperforming” and “not doing anything” -- making it difficult to move the university toward its mission as a premier urban research institution. Charles Parrish, a professor of political science and president of the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers faculty union at Wayne State, said the process may be about cutting costs more than anything else. “No other university that I know of in American history has launched an attack on tenure in this way, announcing that they were going to go after (nearly) 40 faculty members,” he said. “There have been attacks on tenure all over the country … but not from inside the university.”

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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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