"Tenure," it seems, has been rendered as meaningless as the flaccid rights of British subjects in 1776, capable of revocation solely because the coffers are low and the place might go bankrupt if it keeps honoring all these debts.
Fourteen out of 19 members of the Vermont Law School faculty lost tenure on July 1 as part of a restructuring effort at the South Royalton institution.I'd say so. What's the point of a benefit that can be retracted solely because a going concern is going kaput? We must protect our professors. The ABA and other organizations in charge must enforce tenure promises to the fullest extent of their selfish interpretations of the law. Otherwise, who would they find to teach law schools? Real practitioners?
[The walking condemned] were told they could choose to continue teaching another year under a new contract or they could opt for six month contracts with varying teaching requirements and salaries, or they could leave.
[The "lucky" survivors] were required to sign a non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement, prohibiting them from speaking to anyone except their spouses. The agreement prohibited faculty from making derogatory remarks about Vermont Law School and its administration.
The American Association of University Professors, based in Washington, D.C., says the school has “depart(ed) grossly” from standards set by the association.
I love law schools as much as the next shameless apologist, but you have to protect your talent and guarantee that they get their share of the cookies even if it means fucking the little maggots or closing down the school.
What American needs now is a new Bill of Rights... for law professors. These people sacrifice a chance at big-firm glory for the passive income stream of a sinecure. They command our adoration, our respect, and our unwarranted legal guarantees. I say given them each a contract that secures the right of tenure, not just in empty words that can be revoked by King George wannabe Chapter 11 trustees, but real rights, backed by a guaranty that the school will place them in a partnership position at a major urban law firm or pay the cash equivalent out of its future revenue stream.
All we have seen in the last 5 years is law schools contracting and removing or deterring talented faculty. And all that's happened in response is that the juiciest young cherries take their ripeness to business or medical school. Maybe - just maybe! - there's a correlation. We must not cut costs with the professorship, but instead view it as an investment. Spend millions to make thousands, that sort of thing.
Regardless, this act by Vermont is intolerable. Law professors aren't at will employees. They're a national treasure.
As the splendidly named Prof. Peter Teachout observes in the article:
I think there’s a sense that the steps that were taken are lawless.Thirteen words where three or four would do. You simply can't get that from some adjunct.
Protect tenure now. Scam on.