In order to continue to “attract and retain a first-class academic faculty,” President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees approved updates to faculty employment policies and unified the graduate and undergraduate faculties during its April 14-15 meeting.
Trustees also approved promotions, designations to academic chairs and sabbatical leaves for faculty members, elected new officers and approved a $40.6 million budget for the 2014-2015 academic year, a 5.87 percent increase from the current year.
All actions of the board were unanimous.
New employment policies
Under new employment policies, all elected faculty will serve under a “simple academic instructional contract” rather than a tenure-based contract. Faculty will be eligible for contract terms of between one and nine years. The new policy is effective immediately and applies to all current faculty.
“Southern Seminary is returning to the classic, traditional method of hiring faculty that has marked this institution through most of its history,” Mohler said. “A tenure-based contract was the basis for hiring and retaining faculty from about 1960 to the present. But we have returned to making the election of faculty by the board of trustees the most important issue, and returning faculty to teaching on the basis of a simple academic instructional contract.”
Mohler said tenure “no longer really meets the needs of the faculty or the institution” and it “no longer ensures academic quality, but actually is a major impediment to it.”
Tenure is a “ticking fiscal time-bomb” in the world of higher education, Mohler said. “It is an economically unsustainable model and sooner or later virtually every academic institution is going to have to abandon tenure or face disaster.”
Trustees also approved an administration recommendation to “unify” the faculty of Boyce College, Southern Seminary’s undergraduate school, with the graduate faculties in the School of Theology and the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry.
With this trustee action, Mohler said, the college faculty is now “on par” with the graduate school faculties.
“We want to avoid any artificial, two-tier relationship between the graduate and undergraduate faculty,” he said, noting that full professors of the graduate faculty “eagerly welcomed” the undergraduate faculty in an action taken several weeks ago to affirm the administration’s recommendation to the board of trustees.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press
James A. Smith Sr.