Kansas Regents Approve Transparency Measures for New Layoff Policy

April 16, 2021

The Kansas Board of Regents this week approved two measures related to a controversial new policy on firing tenured faculty members. The changes, which were recommended by a faculty working group, say that faculty and staff governance groups must at least be offered a chance for "input, comments and recommendations" on any plan to suspend tenure or fire staff members, and that university CEOs must communicate with their campuses and regents about the suspension or layoff processes they’re considering. That communication must include reasons for and alternatives to any layoffs. CEOs retain the ability to seek unilateral board approval of their policies, however, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

In January, regents approved a policy allowing state institutions to develop frameworks for suspending and laying off even tenured faculty members in response to COVID-19-related budget issues. Faculty groups, which were given about a day’s notice of the new policy, said the decision was an affront to shared governance. A faculty working group to inform the policy was stood up in March. The temporary suspension of tenure protections lifts at the end of 2022. Some Kansas institutions have indicated that they will make use of the policy and consider layoffs, while others have stated they’ll work through budget issues without them.

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