Fourteen professors, including longtime but non-tenured teachers, who have been informed they're losing their jobs are claiming their terms of employment were altered without approval from the school's faculty. Those changes, they say, were later used to deny them the chance to appeal the decision behind why their contracts weren't renewed.
According to a document shared by Emory Cuts listing violations of the "Gray Book," a document that outlines policies between the school and faculty members, Emory's leadership allegedly failed to meet with affected departments, programs, and faculty members. In addition, the proposed non-renewal procedures weren't established or communicated beforehand with professors.
The Lecture-Track Faculty committee later denied the appeal from those lecturers based on two paragraphs that were reportedly added to a later version of the contracts - not the agreements they signed or the one in place when the program cuts were made. When the policy was changed, it happened without faculty approval.
The Chronicle of Higher Education's Dan Berrett nicely explains the impact of what, on its surface, appears to be a small administrative change to a policy:
Members of the lecturers' executive committee that revised the document in July 2012 say the new language did not need approval because it does not stake out new policy but simply confirms longstanding policy and practice. But some lecturers say the changes were a stealthy way to cut positions and then justify blocking the lecturers' appeal to the faculty as a whole.
"There are substantive questions that need to be resolved," said David Armstrong, a senior lecturer in journalism whose job is on the chopping block and who is appealing the move. "We'd like to know who authorized these changes, who made these changes, and who decided that they could be made without faculty authorization."
The paragraphs that were added were simply intended to reduce confusion on the timing and steps involved in reappointing lecturers, said Christopher W. Beck, a professor of pedagogy, which is a lecture-track position in the biology department.
"One of the things you'll notice is that the new version is much more explicit about when things happen, the date of the process, and so forth," said Mr. Beck, who was involved in drafting the new language
Emory's leadership claims that the policy edits were an attempt to spell out, as Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Michael Elliott puts it, rules that long been practiced by both the department and dean and not by faculty. Last week, Emory College's governance committee asked the lecturers to provide a statement asking for the appeal's basis and how it would be consistent with the school's bylaws.
The appellants, which include faculty from several departments affected by last year's program cuts, yesterday responded and are scheduled to meet with the governance committee tomorrow morning. In addition, Emory's Lecture-Track Faculty is holding a meeting today, where the issue is expected to be discussed with Elliott.
As of now, however, it's unclear whether teachers who were caught in the crossfires of Emory's shifting academic vision will get the proper chance to fight for their teaching positions.
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