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Bill to change tenure policies at Dickinson State University, Bismarck State College heard in a House committee

A North Dakota House Committee heard a measure that would make changes in the faculty tenure policy at two North Dakota colleges – to make it easier for a president to dismiss tenured faculty.

Dickinson State University and Bismarck State College were chosen for that demonstration program.

"We have elevated the faculty rights of non-productive tenured faculty members over students, who pay their salaries through tuition," DSU President Stephen Easton told the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. "We have elevated the rights of non-productive faculty members over taxpayers, who pay a significant portion of their salaries. We have elevated the rights of non-productive faculty members over all the people who work in our institutions who don't have those rights. We have also elevated them over the rights of productive tenured faculty members."

Opponents of the measure said weakening tenure will make it harder to recruit faculty to come to North Dakota.

North Dakota United president Nick Archuleta said tenure protects academic freedom – and college presidents already have flexibility in letting tenured faculty go if the faculty aren’t doing their jobs, or there is a campus financial issue.

"Could this bill be used to go after faculty who challenge the status quo, in the best interest of their students and their institution?" Archuleta said. "Could it have a chilling effect on faculty members' willingness to shine a light on fraud, or misuse of taxpayers' dollars, at an institution, if they know they could be subject to an abrupt non-renewal of their contract?"

The committee did not take immediate action on the bill.

It is HB 1446.

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