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John Carroll U dramatically alters terms of tenure


Citing budget issues, John Carroll University fundamentally alters tenure — to the point that professors say it and academic freedom no longer exist. Zerbor/Getty Images

Numerous institutions have laid off tenured faculty members for budgetary reasons in the last year without declaring financial exigency, as their internal policies would typically require. The temporary workaround is COVID-19 and the financial precarity it presents.

John Carroll University, a small Jesuit institution in Ohio, already delivered terminal contracts to two tenured professors of art history and eliminated the department without declaring financial exigency. Now it’s going further, permanently lowering the bar for what constitutes the kind of budget problems that allow for tenured faculty layoffs.

‘Budgetary Hardship’

Whereas financial exigency means a budget crisis that threatens an institution’s survival, John Carroll now says it can fire individual tenured faculty members without cause in cases of “budgetary hardship.” This is defined as a projected — not final — annual budget deficit of 6 percent, plus two more years of foreseen challenges.

At the same time, John Carroll is denying faculty members the right to appeal these terminations. Faculty members still have certain protections under the more dire concept of financial exigency.Even more ironically, at least to […]

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