Status of Tenure

The elimination of the political science program allows Marian University to layoff Johnny Goldfinger, a tenured Associate Professor of Political Science. The university can, of course, respect the concept of tenure and find him a new faculty position. This would be consistent with the widely accepted AAUP standards on tenure, which state that universities should make a serious effort to find new positions for tenured faculty members when their programs are eliminated. Unfortunately, Marian has sent Goldfinger a notice that his contract will not be renewed after December 2022. This is not surprising because the administration has not had any substantive discussions with Goldfinger about a new faculty position nor has there been any indication that the administration even investigated the possibility. The administration has not contacted Goldfinger to discuss his areas of expertise and what he can teach.

This inaction should concern all Marian faculty, not just tenured and tenure-track faculty. The American Association of University Professors state that “The principal purpose of tenure is to safeguard academic freedom, which is necessary for all who teach and conduct research in higher education. When faculty members can lose their positions because of their speech, publications, or research findings, they cannot properly fulfill their core responsibilities to advance and transmit knowledge.” This speech includes participation in discussions about the well-being of the university, programs, and faculty.

Goldfinger, as a tenured faculty member and president of the Marian chapter of the AAUP, has been an outspoken but respectful advocate for shared governance, academic freedom, the liberal arts, and terminated faculty. Tenure is, in part, intended to allow senior faculty to take part in the governance of the university and advocate for the interests of pre-tenure and non-tenure track faculty without fear of retaliation. The advisory written by the AAUP national office notes that “The discontinuance of an academic program and the ensuing terminations of faculty appointments constitute a collective faculty judgment that such sacrifices are on balance necessary for the long term benefit of the educational mission rather than serving as a budgetary maneuver or as in a memorable phrase from The Role of the Faculty, “simply a means of terminating one troublesome tenured professor” [bold added].

Thankfully, the administration has given Holly Gastineau-Grimes (former Assistant Professor of Political Science) a contract as a faculty member in the “Global and Cultural Studies” department as an Assistant Professor of Global Politics and Policy. Interestingly, this department does not yet exist.

If the administration were to inquire, it would have found that Goldfinger has expertise in a range of fields that could benefit other programs at Marian.