UA Board of Trustees set to consider tenure and perhaps other employment matters | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, November 5, 2017

UA Board of Trustees set to consider tenure and perhaps other employment matters

Posted By on Sun, Nov 5, 2017 at 8:51 AM

click to enlarge TENURE TALK: Employment security is a topic of interest — official and unofficial — at this week's meeting of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
  • TENURE TALK: Employment security is a topic of interest — official and unofficial — at this week's meeting of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees meets Wednesday and Thursday at the UA Pulaski Tech campus in North Little Rock and tenure policy for faculty is among the topics of discussion. Another high-profile employment matter, concerning UA athletics, is also lurking in the background.

As mentioned before, a university counsel proposal to rewrite existing tenure policy for faculty has stirred opposition. A University spokesman said he now expects no action on the proposal this week, just discussion. Said Nate Hinkel:

It will be discussed and an update will be given by General Counsel on what the process has been this far, what kind of feedback we’re getting, and where we go from here. 
Some faculty members think the new policy could suppress free speech and make it easier to fire faculty.

The discussion is set at the end of the Board agenda on Thursday.

Of potential interest, too, is the Board's regular executive session for discussion of personnel issues. There is no scheduled item currently for athletics at the Fayetteville campus. But it is a subject of much discussion.

The football team's lackluster performance in the fifth year of Bret Bielema's coaching tenure and unhappiness with Athletic Director Jeff Long have produced a clamor for change. Unhappiness extends to at least some members of the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz's management of that $100 million-plus department could be a matter of discussion in an executive session.

Hog watchers need look no farther than Wally Hall's column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today to gauge the temperature.  Amid an unflattering review of the Hog football team's bare escape against lightly regarded Coastal Carolina yesterday at a poorly attended homecoming game, he wrote:

Perhaps the biggest concern should be the leadership at the UA, and that means at the top. Who allowed a program that was in the Sugar Bowl after the 2010 season to slip to the point it has to charge back to slip by a visiting team that hasn't won a Sun Belt game?
There is no tenure protection for football coaches and athletic directors, though there are contracts with varying payments due in the event of termination.

Bielema has a contract through 2020, but he can be terminated and has a buyout clause said to be worth $5.9 million. Long, who's paid $1.1 million, has a contract running through June 30, 2018, with a $100,000 buyout should he be terminated between now and then.

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