Emporia State administration plans to submit a justification to the Kansas Board of Regents to dismiss employees, according to a Wednesday email sent by ESU President Ken Hush.
Hush’s email did not contain specifics about the justification for dismissals, such as whether the dismissals would be focused on certain departments and colleges, or if it would include tenured faculty.
ESU Faculty Senate President Shawn Keough called Hush’s email about the Workforce Management Framework “misleading” in an email sent to all faculty later on Wednesday.
“The framework has not been officially submitted to KBOR,” Keough wrote. “The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will meet tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 9) to discuss the framework and will also vote on the scheduling of a special meeting according to Faculty Senate bylaws.”
The lack of information around ESU’s plan concerned Michael Morales, associate professor of physical sciences, during Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, and he suggested that the Faculty Senate invite Hush to speak with them about his decision.
“We ought to find out, very specifically, what options that he is exploring and have an idea (of) which ones are being rejected and which ones are still in exploratory form,” Morales said. “Because those are affecting us.”
What is the Kansas Board of Regents?
The Kansas Board of Regents is the governing body for the six public universities in Kansas and is comprised of nine members, according to kansasregents.org. The board appoints university presidents, directs funding for universities such as ESU and administers financial aid to students across the state.
Why is tenure at risk?
As enrollment numbers in Kansas universities continue to drop, funding for higher education has become more difficult, according to the email sent by President Hush.
“Enrollment in four-year institutions has been in consistent decline for more than five years both nationally and at Emporia State University,” Hush wrote.
To aid universities struggling financially, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, KBOR pushed forward a policy in January 2021 that allowed for administrators to provide justification to dismiss faculty members, including tenured professors.
The controversial policy received swift criticism from faculty and students at the University of Kansas, who argued that the move gave too much power to administrators to terminate employees without regard for tenure or due process, according to an article by the Kansas Reflector.
Have other Kansas universities filed justifications for terminations?
Although KU officials initially said they couldn't rule out filing a justification, KU Chancellor Doug Girod said in June 2021 and affirmed in May 2022 that KU would not be submitting any framework to KBOR, according to the Kansas Reflector.
KBOR President Blake Flanders told the Kansas Reflector that he believes Wichita State University and Kansas State University would not be submitting the framework. If the frameworks were enacted at Pittsburg State University or Fort Hays State University, he added, they would have to consider existing worker protections, such as collective bargaining agreements.
Will Emporia State dismiss employees?
Hush’s email did not include details about the framework to dismiss employees that will be submitted to KBOR. After receiving Hush’s email, Bulletin staff members waited outside President Hush’s office, where he told them he did not have any comment.
“Our proposed Framework for Workforce Management is a difficult choice made for the highest good,” Hush wrote in his Wednesday email.