St. Louis University on Monday said it is dropping a controversial proposal that would have, among other things, changed the way the school handles tenured faculty.
The plan would have put all tenured positions through a review every six years, with those faculty members essentially having to reapply for tenure. The proposal was blasted by critics, who said it would have effectively destroyed the school's tenure system.
Monday afternoon, the school released a statement to the SLU community by the school's president, Rev. Lawrence Biondi, faculty senate leaders and a host of vice presidents and deans. It offered a brief description of a meeting Friday attended by SLU leaders.
At the meeting, Manoj Patankar, the vice president for academic affairs, suggested the proposals could be withdrawn.
"The assembled leadership voted in support of his suggestion," according to the statement, which touted the "collaborative spirit" of the meeting.
The proposal, which dealt with the way faculty members are reviewed, caused considerable hand-wringing on campus. Professors complained privately about a new "post-tenure review" process in which tenured professors would have to justify their tenure every six years.
Critics said it defeated the purpose of awarding tenure in the first place. Tenure generally shields a faculty member from job loss, except in cases of misconduct or financial emergency.
Robert Kreiser, senior program officer with the American Association of University Professors, said the policy "effectively eviscerates the university's existing tenure system."
Kreiser could not reached for comment Monday.
The university defended the proposal, noting that it was one of several changes being considered, and that nothing would be done without input from the faculty.
The response it received was not encouraging.
The faculty senate recently responded to the proposed changes with its own statement, approved by a 47-0 vote, with three abstentions. The senators urged the withdrawal of the proposals, saying they would have a "devastating effect on the morale of the current faculty and would impede any future improvement of the university."