Community College Faculty Blast Tenure Proposal

November 30, 2012. “This rule seeks to disrupt a high-performing college system.”

By Denise-Marie Ordway, Orlando Sentinel
8:22 PM EST, November 29, 2012

Dozens of faculty members from across Florida gathered at Seminole State College on Thursday to oppose a state plan that would make it harder for community-college professors to earn and keep their tenure.

For more than two hours, faculty and representatives from the Association of Florida Colleges took turns pointing out what they saw as problems with the proposal, which the state Board of Education will vote on in early 2013.

Many stressed that changes are not needed because colleges already have strong procedures to determine which professors are good enough to earn and maintain tenure.

State officials, seeking more accountability for public educators, are considering making professors wait an extra two years to request tenure and requiring them to meet performance metrics that focus on such things as student success and employer feedback. Tenured professors would be reviewed at least every three years.

“This rule seeks to disrupt a high-performing college system,” said Ed Mitchell, executive director of the statewide faculty union. “This rule change seeks to fix a problem that does not exist.”

Some professors argued the plan would scare away talented faculty when community colleges are building their bachelor’s degree programs. Some raised concern about evaluations based on student success, considering many factors affect how well students perform in classes and what jobs they get after graduating.

“It’s going to be connected back to me even if it [the problem] could be the Federal Reserve Bank or they picked the wrong major,” said Valencia College professor Jack Chambless.

Randy Hanna, chancellor of the Florida College System, called the discussion “productive” and said it will help officials fine-tune the plan.