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UW Regents consider rule that would speed firing of professors

MADISON - The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents is considering a rule that would speed up the firing of professors convicted of serious crimes. But faculty leaders say they should have more input.

In some circumstances, the rules would let chancellors suspend faculty members without pay pending a final decision on whether or not they'll be fired.

At a public hearing on the plan, UW-Platteville Professor Ray Spoto said he's bothered that faculty were not given enough say in drawing up the guidelines. He says it infringes on tenure rights.

He says faculty members sympathize with what the Regents are trying to do, but they don't want it to be at the expense of something very valuable. He says tenure is there to protect academic freedom and due process and without it, one cannot teach properly.

An attorney representing faculty leaders said leaving them out of the process could lead to lawsuits down the road.

The Board of Regents began looking at the issue after a review last year found they had three professors with felony records on the payroll including a couple serving time behind bars.

David Walsh, Regent chairman, says the UW needs to have the tools to address those situations more quickly. He says the current process doesn't allow for a speedy, expedited or reasonable timetable. He says the proposed rules were established to mimic what other private industries do.

The Board will take comments on its plan until the end of September and will likely vote on it in October.