It has come to our attention that Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) plans to introduce a bill that would eliminate tenure for new faculty at public institutions of higher education in Ohio.
In the co-sponsor request being circulated by Rep. Roegner, she says that the “one-size-fits-all tenure system is long outdated and is adding to the costs of higher education for universities and is being passed on to students.”
The legislation, she indicates, will apply only to new hires at public institutions, and faculty that already have tenure or are tenure-track will be grandfathered in to the current system.
While we see this as a politically-motivated attack rather than a useful piece of legislation rooted in facts or understanding of higher education, it presents us with an opportunity to defend and promote tenure to the General Assembly. It gives us the chance to discuss what tenure is and isn’t, how it is critical in protecting academic freedom, and how attacking tenure will drive away quality faculty from Ohio.
This bill has yet to be formally introduced. When it is, we will inform you of the bill number and what you can do to help defeat it.
Yesterday, OCAAUP President John McNay delivered testimony to the House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education regarding House Bill 49, the state budget bill.
In his testimony, McNay emphasized that the academic missions of our colleges and universities should be the focus of state and institutional decision-making. He cautioned legislators on the “less education is better model” that College
Credit Plus promises, as well as the dangers of not giving students a full liberal arts education in an ever-changing economy.
President McNay also criticized the new performance-based funding formula, citing a Columbia University study, which found that Ohio universities were moving funding from need-based students to high-achieving students who are more likely to pass courses and graduate and thus generate financial return for institutions.
Moreover, he addressed the budget language related to establishing a commercialization pathway to tenure. He told the subcommittee members that OCAAUP is not opposed to establishing another path to tenure, but that the commercialization research in which public institution faculty are engaged must be peer-reviewed and serve the public interest.
He expressed academic freedom concerns about the textbook proposal, and subcommittee members Rep. Duffey (R-Worthington) and Rep. Anielski (R-Walton Hills) asked him several questions about textbook costs and faculty selection of textbooks.
Rep. Ramos (D-Lorain) asked McNay if so much emphasis on textbooks, and so little emphasis on increased state aid, would help the state achieve its goal of 65% of Ohioans with a degree or certificate by 2025. McNay responded that students often do not finish their college education due to financial reasons, and that increased state support would help more students earn degrees.
Ramos also asked about adjunct faculty, noting a correlation between universities that have lower numbers of adjuncts and higher numbers of graduates. President McNay commented that part-time faculty are professionals who get paid very little and have little to no institutional support.
He said that it is difficult for adjuncts who often have to piece together a living by teaching at multiple institutions to hold office hours and have other out-of-classroom interaction with students that full-time faculty do.
He pointed to the section in OCAAUP’s recent report, which shows that institutions could afford to hire more full-time faculty if they would cut costs in non-academic areas and redirect that money toward instruction.
The subcommittee chair, Rep. Perales (R-Beavercreek), thanked McNay for his testimony, saying that he always brings a valuable perspective to the committee.