US: Layoffs without 'financial exigency'

One of the ultimate protections of being a tenured faculty member in the US has been being immune from layoff in all but the most extraordinary circumstances, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. Under policies issued by the American Association of University Professors and largely accepted by higher education leaders, only institutions that declare 'financial exigency' - a state so dire that it "threatens the survival of the institution as a whole" - can eliminate the jobs of tenured academics.

Given the strict criteria on when an institution can declare exigency, and the obviously unwelcome scrutiny such a declaration would bring about, institutions have hesitated to invoke that status. As a result, while institutions eliminate adjunct positions all the time, the tenured faculty member has been protected.

But maybe not so much anymore. In a series of recent actions, colleges appear to be ignoring the exigency requirement either when eliminating tenured jobs or considering the possibility of doing so. Administrators defend their moves as necessary to manage institutions in tight financial times, but faculty leaders see an erosion of a key right.
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site