Regents approve contract system for AIU

By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 16, 1996

The Arizona Board of Regents voted unanimously Friday to offer incoming faculty at Arizona International University multi-year contracts rather than starting a tenure system.

This, regents said, would be an "experiment worth trying."

During their two-day meeting at the University of Arizona, the board decided to continue to look at ways of improving the tenure system at Arizona's three universities.

The regents also directed the chairs of the faculty senates of all three universities to propose ways to improve the current structure of tenure. The board is expected to vote on the changes in December.

UA President Manuel Pacheco told the board that he "unequivocally" supports the concept of tenure, but at the same time he said he thought it would be pertinent that the board look at other options.

"We believe over a 10-year period of time we can have evidence for you," Pacheco said, "and if you find that there are shortcomings to this system then tenure can be reinstated."

Celestino Fernandez, executive vice president and provost of AIU, told the board that contracted salaries for new faculty would be competitive, not only among faculty in Arizona, but with other institutions nationwide.

During the discussion on contracts, regents raised concerns about AIU's accreditation with the NCAA and whether it would be given to an institution without tenure.

Fernandez said the NCAA accredits institutions with or without tenure.

In the meantime, he said AIU's affiliation with the UA is important. He said that for students to receive federal financial aid, the institution must be accredited.

"Eventually we will seek separate accreditation," Fernandez said. He said he expects that accreditation to come through in one and a half to two years.

Kurt Davis, a regent designee who will be replacing Regent Doug Wall on the board, brought up previous concerns discussed by the board concerning the difficulty of recruiting and retaining qualified faculty without tenure.

Instead, he said, "Could this not be a great place to examine and start modifications to the tenure system?"

Davis said that he did not want the decision the board made now to come back to him as a board member in five years that the "grand experiment" failed.

Pacheco said that once an institution starts a tenure system, it would be difficult to stop or change the system.

"This is a great place to start with this kind of system," he said, "to see if it would work."

Regent Andrew Hurwitz, who concluded his last meeting with the board, said this system might be a disappointment in the long run.

"Most contract systems have turned into de facto tenure systems," he said. "I want to make sure of the message we send out that this is an experiment."

"But, it's an experiment worth trying."