Tenure and maybe football on the agenda for UA Board of Trustees | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tenure and maybe football on the agenda for UA Board of Trustees

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 12:29 PM

A change in tenure policy proposed by the University of Arkansas System legal council is up for discussion at a Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow and the Faculty Senate of the University of Arkansas, Fayettevile has filed its objections with Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz.

A UA spokesman has said the proposal will be discussed tomorrow, but a vote isn't expected.

The letter to Steinmetz signed by Dr. Kevin Hall, chair of the Faculty Senate, said the faculty had objections to both the proposal itself and the process by which it developed. It asks:
That the System Administration convene an ad-hoc panel consisting of current faculty leadership from each UA campus and from the UA System office of legal counsel to consider concerns and issues raised by UA faculty for possible improvements to the
proposed changes to Policy 405.1.

That the System Administration issue a statement of support to its faculty to allay concerns and fears related to tenure and academic freedom. Such a statement will also serve as a strong message to future faculty candidates recruited by U of A campuses regarding the U of A’s commitment to its faculty
.Faculty members have objected to the rule's allowance of termination on a subjective ground of lack of collegiality and they say it also hampers free speech by expanding the ability to sever faculty members for public comments.

Here's the full letter.

click to enlarge JEFF LONG: Trustees are talking.
  • JEFF LONG: Trustees are talking.
Speaking of the Board meeting tomorrow: Talk continues to circulate about the interest of several Board members in discussing tomorrow whether the contract of UA Athletic Director Jeff Long should be extended. It expires at the end of June, according to the most recent version I've seen. One board member said the source of dissatisfaction is "drift" in management. meaning primarily the performance of the football team and a lack of confidence in Long's ability to choose a successor to Bret Bielema.  Many believe he  won't be back next year barring a late-season team miracle.

But other management issues exist for some trustees: Some are stylistic. Long isn't warm and fuzzy. Some linger from the $200 million stadium expansion project. Even some who voted for it wonder now if it was too much. Some relate to new advertising contracts, rollover contracts and big buyouts done with little or no advance word to the board. Some relate to Long's work to end playing even a single UA football game in Little Rock every year (something that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has indicated he wants to continue.) Long may cede temporarily to that wish, but given the money necessary for communications upgrades to War Memorial Stadium to satisfy the money-making SEC TV contract, the future of Little Rock games could be bleak regardless.

NCAA rules discourage university governing bodies from meddling in athletics. But such boards can make their feelings known to campus leaders and they can always claim fiduciary interests.  Are there enough votes on the 10-member board to take up the issue tomorrow morning and send a message to the chancellor? I'm hearing it both ways. At this minute, my guess would be no. Just because. Two different sources following it closely however, think the votes are in hand.

Speaking of the stadium work, still underway, and the sale of new luxury suites to help pay the cost: I inquired about progress to Scott Varady, who heads the Razorback Foundation, both as to fund-raising results and about a report that a plan was in the works for a financial assessment on existing box holders to pay for renovations (a prospect that hasn't been universally cheered by box holders). He replied:

The Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium renovation and expansion project is on schedule, and no renovations to the existing suites are planned until after the end of the 2017 football season as has been communicated to suite holders. Those renovations were always scheduled to begin after the conclusion of the 2017 home football schedule and nothing has changed.

As I am sure you have heard, we are planning to share information with existing suite holders regarding the specific renovations and upgrades for each suite. As soon as we receive the final construction and other applicable information, we will communicate with the suite holders. We hope to receive that information soon.

As for the overall Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium renovation and expansion project, I can share the following information with you.

We have gift agreements for all 32 suites in the North End Zone.

In total, all 38 new suites in the project have gift commitments.

Out of 70 new Loge Boxes in the North End Zone, we have gift commitments for 63 out of 70 Loge Boxes — thus leaving seven (7) available Loge Boxes at this time.

With credit to our generous Razorback Foundation members and fans, we have raised $41.223 million towards the renovation and expansion project to date. Given that, we have the resources to assist the Athletic Department in meeting all financial obligations towards the project.
The message seems to be that there's no reason to fault financial stability of Long's stadium renovation and expansion. The more spiritual question of whether Arkansas can and should expect to be an Alabama in athletic stature is one for the afternoon radio shows and the chat boards.

click to enlarge ON TARGET: Suite sales for stadium expansion.
  • ON TARGET: Suite sales for stadium expansion.

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