Executive Council Statement on Abolishing Tenure in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System

The Executive Council approved the following statement in March 2009.

The Modern Language Association deplores the Kentucky Regents' decision to abolish tenure for all future hires in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Neither administrative expediency that takes advantage of the current financial crisis nor short-term budgetary gains justify a decision that threatens to undermine faculty governance and peer review, forestall curricular innovation, and impede the academic advancement of students. While it may be conceivable that an institution without tenure could continue to attract and keep faculty members of high quality, it would seem important in each particular case to have answers to questions about the way non-tenure-track faculty members are currently treated before making the momentous decision to do away with tenure. Are these faculty members selected on the basis of wide-ranging competitive searches? Are their wages and benefits commensurate with those of their tenure-track colleagues? Do they have comparable working conditions: offices, telephones, computers, photocopying privileges, access to appropriate classroom teaching tools, support for professional development? Do they participate in curriculum planning, serve on personnel committees, have a voice in policy decisions? Are they eligible for increasing degrees of job security and institutional responsibility, based on performance evaluations, as time passes? To what extent and by what means is their academic freedom protected? Examples from across the country expose the fragility of the principle of academic freedom for those who are in non-tenure-track positions. There is no evidence in the record that these questions have been addressed and answered satisfactorily in the Kentucky case. There is every reason to suppose that KCTCS students will be ill served by a situation in which the teaching faculty is expected to be committed to the educational enterprise while serving at the pleasure of an institution unwilling to make long-term commitments to its most essential employees.