UNF faculty pushes back against proposal they say could potentially gut tenure protections

The University of North Florida (UNF) administration and the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) Union are facing an impasse as the organizations aren’t able to agree on proposed tenure changes as a result of a new state law requiring post-tenure review.

Soon, tenured professors like Tobias Huning, who is also the president of UFF, may be required to undergo post-tenure reviews every five years.

Professors are worried that these changes could compromise academic freedom.

“We don’t think it is something necessary. We don’t think that it is an appropriate tool to evaluate us,” Huning said.

There have been more than a dozen bargaining meetings with the university administration about post-tenure review. Under the proposal, a professor who receives an unsatisfactory rating will be fired.

Those who do not meet expectations are defined as those who fall below the normal range of their department, and they can be fired if they don’t improve after a year.

Mark Halley is an associate professor of American Sign Language at UNF and also UFF’s vice president. He received tenure this summer after several years of work.

“It leaves way too much room for administrative overreach, where a faculty member could consistently exceed expectations year after year, and then they find themselves not meeting expectations with some kind of punitive repercussions from that,” Halley said. “We’re already seeing faculty leave UNF. We’re already seeing faculty leave Florida.

Halley said the proposal is already bringing horrible impacts.

“I can just only imagine how it’s going to continue impacting academic freedom, our wider community,” Halley said.

The proposal would allow for faculty members to appeal the results of the post-tenure review. The university’s board of trustees is scheduled to vote on post-tenure standards Monday morning.

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