|Professor Craig Eckhardt,
Chair, Academic Planning Committee
|Harvey Perlman, Chancellor
|Definition of 'Program'
I am responding directly
to you regarding a letter Merlyn Nielsen sent me on behalf
of the Academic Planning Committee. The letter invited
my interpretation of the last three definitions of 'program'
in our current procedures for program reductions and elimination.
I very much appreciate the nature and seriousness of your
concern and the importance of this issue to the faculty
and to the University. We all understand that the definition
of program is critical if we get to the point where tenured
faculty would be laid off through program eliminations.
The Vice Chancellors and I would approach the issue of
laying off tenured faculty with the utmost caution. Even
the prospect that I may be required to make such a recommendation
has caused me considerable personal turmoil and reflection.
We have all spent our professional lives understanding
and benefitting from the tradition of tenure. Thus separate
and apart from the definition of 'program',
any action that would adversely affect tenured faculty
will be a monumental decision.
If I am called upon to make such a decision, I fully realize
that my future as an effective Chancellor will depend,
in large part, on whether I can convince the core of the
faculty that the decision was a proper one. I do not speak
of any rules or procedures. Rather, I speak of the practical
realities of having sufficient remaining support to continue
to function as your leader. No Chancellor can function
if the faculty no longer prefer the devil they have to
the devil they might get. This means that I will, in the
minds of the faculty, have a heavy burden of justification
for any such recommendation. There will first be the matter
of whether the barrier of tenure needs to be breached
at all. If I can sustain that burden, the next issue will
be whether I can justify eliminating the programs I have
selected. I understand both the potential reach of our
current definition and the faculty's concern. Any use
of the authority to eliminate programs as a guise for
singling out individual faculty for elimination because
of their views, their performance, or their compensation
would be contrary to our procedures and our academic traditions
and would threaten all faculty members. I would not select
a program on this basis.
At the same time there are legitimate 'programs'
within departments that are small and function with very
small numbers of faculty and are peripheral to our core
mission. I should not be placed in the position of having
to eliminate more than might be necessary in order to
avoid utilizing the program definitions you address. However,
as the size of the program decreases, the concern regarding
my motives will increase. Accordingly, I believe in such
a case, again in the practical realities of running the
University, I would bear a particularly onerous burden
of demonstrating that my decision was justified.
I doubt that this response will give you the full comfort
you might want on this important matter. However, our
circumstances are too uncertain to give you absolute assurance
that I would not employ the full reach of the definition
of 'program' if I thought it were in the best
interest of the University. I look forward to a continued
discussion of these issues.
cc: Professor Merlyn Nielsen