Faculty Senate discusses proposed bill to end tenure


A member of faculty senate voices his concern over proposed changes to Blackboard Feb. 14, 2017.

Robert Roberson

In the first meeting after a proposed bill to get rid of tenure, Faculty Senate allocated part of the meeting to discuss their response.

The bill being discussed is Bill 41. If passed, it would end tenure at the three Iowa public universities giving them the ability to terminate professors with just cause. 

“At the very least this is a fabulous opportunity for us to configure what tenure is, why it matters, not just to us. I’ve been saying…it’s not about job security, it’s about the security of the freedom to explore ideas,” President Jonathan Sturm said.

Sturm went on to encourage Faculty Senate members to have a conversation about tenure outside of class and make people aware of why it’s important to professors.

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, proposed the bill and along with just cause, acceptable grounds for termination include program discontinuance and financial exigency.

Also on the agenda was a decrease in funds to public universities in Iowa announced by Iowa Governor Brandstad Jan. 10. 

The budget cuts discussed come after a projected loss in $100 million revenues for Iowa’s current fiscal year. 

Regent Katie Mulholland and Executive Director Bob Donley visited the Executive Board of the Faculty Senate, and discussed budget cuts.

The budget cuts according to Sturm will be around 3.5%, but according to his remarks will not affect salaries.

Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert also made remarks about this, sharing that K-12 won’t be affected by these cuts, nor Medicaid, nor tax incentives.

“They are putting budget restrictions on the regent universities…in my opinion as a faculty member at a research one university I value all of the things that the government wants to protect. These are not things that I would want to take money away from…they’re sending a message that that’s not important to this government, and I believe that’s not okay,” Sturm said of the budget cuts.

Proposed changes to dead week were also discussed by the Faculty Senate.

Student Government President Cole Staudt and Vice President Cody West brought forth these new ideas for dead week in order to lead to a less stressful and more successful finals week. 

There was a lot of discussion between Faculty Senate members regarding the language of the proposed change.

The change would not allow professors to give quizzes, tests or exams on the final Thursday and Friday of the semester.

A nomination a new faculty senate president-elect took place as well. Peter Martin, a professor of human development and family studies, was the only nominee for the position and was elected unanimously.

“I am deeply honored to be nominated for the president of the Faculty Senate,” Martin said. “I have great respect for this institution and shared governance.”