Emporia State Layoffs a Direct Assault on Tenure and Academic Freedom

Today, the AAUP published an investigative report concerning the termination of thirty tenured and tenure-track faculty appointments at Emporia State University.

The investigating committee found that, in carrying out the terminations, the ESU administration and the Kansas Board of Regents disregarded AAUP-recommended principles and procedural standards concerning tenure and academic freedom. It also found that the board’s reactivation in May 2022 of a temporary COVID-19-related policy allowed system institutions to abrogate existing university regulations that did comport in most essential respects with AAUP-supported standards.

The temporary policy suspended existing university regulations and gave the ESU administration the authority to “suspend, dismiss, or terminate” any professor, tenured or untenured, without involving faculty governance bodies and without affording academic due process to the affected faculty members. Although the board of regents offered the policy to all system institutions, only Emporia State’s administration adopted it–in September 2022, just three months before it was set to expire.

The investigating committee’s report concluded that the termination of faculty appointments, the “realignment” of curricular programs, and the development and approval of the university’s “Framework for Workforce Management” all occurred without meaningful faculty involvement, demonstrating “that conditions for academic governance at Emporia State are deficient.”

Publication Date: 
Monday, May 1, 2023