The Kansas Board of Regents isn't studying the faculty review processes at state universities as part of any plan to dismantle the tenure system, a regents staffer said.
Martine Hammond-Paludan, the regents' director of academic affairs, told Kansas University faculty Wednesday that the board's goal was to foster greater accountability.
In response to a question, she also said the board wasn't motivated by the anticipated elimination in 1994 of the mandatory retirement age for university faculty.
Faculty are puzzled by the Board of Regents' sudden interest in the tenure process, she said, but added, "I don't believe the board has a hidden agenda."
Hammond-Paludan said regents are studying the tenure issue because some legislators and members of the public fear the system offers job security for lazy faculty.
THE KU CHAPTER of the American Association of University Professors invited Hammond-Paludan and two KU faculty to discuss the concept of a "post-tenure review."
Reginald Robinson, an untenured associate professor of law, and Del Brinkman, vice chancellor for academic affairs who has tenure, also addressed the group.
Regents haven't taken a formal position on post-tenure review, but there have been rumors about plans to mandate an additional review of tenured faculty every five years.
Robinson said he doubted a five-year examination would tell KU administrators anything more than they learn from existing annual reviews for salary purposes.
Instead of looking for a magical public-relations gimmick, Robinson said, regents should focus on making certain that the current tenure-review process works.
BRINKMAN said tenure was being debated at universities throughout the country. Institutions should take the opportunity to educate the public about tenure, he said.
"The tenure system does what it's supposed to do," he said. "Those granted tenure are effective and deserve the protection of academic freedom."
Brinkman said he believes that an additional review every five years would be burdensome and probably wouldn't be an efficient use of time or money.
Robert Creighton, who chairs the regents board, said in a recent interview that state university faculty shouldn't be worried about discussion of the tenure study.
"We really haven't come out with a definitive statement on how post- tenure review would be structure. It would be premature to say how that's going to work.
"I don't think that academic freedom is going to be threatened. I don't think job security is going to be threatened. The outcome would be more accountability," he said.