UNION COUNTY — The potential tenure of 10 Kean University faculty members was left hanging in the balance this week, jeopardizing key programs, according to the Kean Federation of Teachers, the faculty union representing teachers at Kean University.
KFT President James Castiglione admitted Tuesday he was shocked to hear Kean Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeffrey Toney had given a negative recommendation for reappointment for tenure to 9 of the 10 faculty members up for tenure.
Castiglione said this all came on the heels of all 10 of these faculty members receiving unanimous or near unanimous votes at the departmental and college levels. The 10 educators, he said, have appealed the ruling to Kean President Dawood Farahi, who has the option of overturning Toney’s recommendation.
“Needless to say this is a travesty of governance and jeopardizes the academic integrity of our departments,” said the KFT president, questioning the repercussions of not granting tenure, such as who might advise students, teach upper level classes and mentor research projects without full-time tenured positions.
The KFT Executive Council quickly responded to this latest administrative blow, calling for an emergency meeting of the entire membership today at 3:30 p.m., at Hennings Hall, in room 113 at the university.
“Make no mistake. This wholly unjustifiable action by the administration is a direct assault on tenure, governance and academic integrity,” a flier indicated that went out to all KFT faculty members late last week.
Tuesday, in an interview with LocalSource, Castiglione said faculty members reappointed in their sixth year of teaching usually automatically receive tenure, but this now is up in the air for these 9 faculty members.
The process leading up to receiving tenure is rigorous, the KFT president said, explaining that Kean departments review the information on these educators proposed for tenure and then are reviewed at the college level where a faculty committee votes on the matter.
After that Toney receives the appointments for tenure and hands down a decision.
Castiglione said the candidates up for tenure are from a wide variety of academia, but many are involved in the most visible programs that require tenured faculty.
Included are educators teaching psychology, psychology doctorate program, theater, education, English, and sustainability, a new program at Kean, in addition to an education leadership doctoral program.
“In making this decision the Vice President of Academic Affairs has shown Kean has no academic integrity or legitimacy,” the KFT president said, adding “this puts Kean faculty on the chopping block.”
“Tenured faculty run academic programs, without them things are ‘on the cheap,’’ Castiglione said, explaining such a move “is not to cut costs because numbers are at a historic low.”
“This is really undermining a world class education for Kean students,” he said, adding the move “appears to be just a capricious abuse of power.”
The KFT president said the union has advised the 9 educators who were not recommended for tenure how to proceed, but while the possibility of a strike has not come up, it is not out of the question.
“People are getting fed up. This is so destructive to our core mission of education,” Castiglione said, adding that if Farahi follows through with Toney’s recommendation “he will be eviscerating tenured faculty.”
The KFT president said that under these conditions it would become impossible to attract talented faculty to the university.
Toney did not return calls made to him Tuesday regarding his decision.