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University of Kansas faculty group decries dismissal policy

February 5, 2021 GMT

A group of University of Kansas faculty hosted a virtual town hall meeting Thursday night to “Defend KU” against a new Board of Regents policy that makes it easier to fire, dismiss or suspend university employees, including tenured faculty.

The regents approved the temporary policy last month, citing economic strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic and reduced state aid for higher education.

Five of the six public universities in Kansas said they will not use the policy. Kansas Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer said last week the school will create a framework for implementing the policy but she hopes it never has to be used, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

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While the policy affects all university employees, most of the criticism has focused on the potential damage to tenure.

Nick Syrett, a professor in the school’s Women, Gender & Sexuality department, said the policy scares so many educators because “it could well point the way for public universities across the country in how to eviscerate shared governance and tenure.”

As of Thursday, 1,003 Kansas faculty and staff and 6,795 organizations and individuals signed statements calling on the university not to pursue the policy.