by Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector
September 14, 2022
TOPEKA — The Kansas Board of Regents endorsed a request Wednesday by Emporia State University administrators to initiate a process of transforming the campus workforce and realigning academic offerings to address harsh financial and enrollment trends.
The state Board of Regents unanimously approved ESU president Ken Hush’s request to implement a policy established by the higher education governance board allowing the system’s six public universities to expedite dismissal of tenured faculty and other employees.
Reforms implemented by Hush are expected to include elimination or merger of academic programs in ways that correspond to personnel changes.
“Our next step is to share the details about this transformation to those individuals directly affected and our campus community,” Hush said. “We anticipate our colleagues and students will receive details by the end of this week, although that could be subject to change if necessary.”
Hush, who graduated from ESU but was an unusual presidential hire given his lack of a graduate degree, said the objective was to make use of the flexibility to “transform ESU in the best interest of our students” and come to terms with the university’s structural deficits.
On Friday, the Faculty Senate at ESU approved a resolution urging the Board of Regents to reject the proposal to undermine tenure at the university.
ESU administrators said last week they would seek permission from the Board of Regents to exercise provisions of the board’s workforce management policy. The policy was hatched in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide campus administrators liberty to abbreviate the process of removing employees.
Program discontinuance based on problematic credit-hour production and enrollment trends is expected to influence which faculty and staff were let go at Emporia State, but adjustments must be initiated before the Board of Regents policy lapsed in December.
No other state university in Kansas has gone on record with plans to make use of the workforce policy.
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