Albany Profs Deny Faculty Suggested Cutting Standards
But the AAUP, in posts on its web site, and local members, question whether the school is on the brink of financial strife and whether it needs to reduce its workforce through layoffs and buyouts, or if it can deal with the issue gradually through normal attrition.
They also suggests that through layoffs, and the threat of layoffs, the administration could essentially reduce tenured faculty to the status of at-will employees. Professors express concerns over academic freedom if tenure protections are decimated.
"The law school, through the dean and the board, are using a manufactured financial crisis to target and get rid of tenure, not tenured faculty, but the institution of tenure," a professor said in an interview. "The way they have done that is using the drop in enrollment to essentially justify firing tenured faculty members and other people with long term contracts. Over the last 18 months, the atmosphere is you can't say or do anything because you might be the person targeted or fired."
"We cannot disagree that we need to do long term planning," a professor said in an interview. "We do disagree with the strong-arm, sledge-hammer tactics that are being used to manipulate an economic challenge for another agenda."
Those tactics include what the professors characterize as a unilateral decision by the administration to effect a "head count reduction" without prior discussion with the faculty or the AAUP.
"The financial crisis that the Board mentions is really a crisis in management," a professor said in an email. "We have a new, inexperienced dean and a new, very smug and arrogant executive committee of the board. Together, they have created an environment of low morale, fear and distrust."
Andrews acknowledged the situation "is trying for everyone involved" and defended the board, which she said "consists of a group of professionals dedicated to Albany Law who love the school and are committed to its success."
Nolan, the board chairman, did not respond to telephone inquiries.
Meanwhile, about 25 faculty members signed a complaint to the ABA and professors reached out to the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).
In a Jan. 13 letter to the AALS, the faculty said that "never before, in the memory of our senior faculty, has trust been at such a low point and have relationships between the faculty and the dean and between the faculty and the Board of Trustees been so impaired." The letter was provided to the Law Journal without the names of the signatories.