State College of Florida returns to 1-year contracts for new faculty

In this file photo, State College of Florida Board members discuss eliminating tenure for new hires.
In this file photo, State College of Florida Board members discuss eliminating tenure for new hires.

After eliminating tenure for new hires and voting to put three-year contracts in place, the State College of Florida board of trustees changed course once again this week, voting to rescind the three-year contract decision.

New hires after July 1 will be placed on a one-year contract, as of now. After voting for the three-year contracts in May, trustee Eric Robinson brought a motion forward Tuesday during a meeting to rescind that decision, saying he wants to be respectful of faculty wishes and that he had realized since the May vote that the three-year contracts were not what the faculty wanted.

“I wanted to make sure they knew I heard their concerns and acted on their concerns,” Robinson said Wednesday.

Initially, Robinson said he thought faculty was on board with the three-year contracts, but language about automatic renewals in the three-year contracts was removed, which was important to faculty.

“They’re the people on the ground. They’re the ones who make the institution what the institution is,” Robinson told the Herald. “We have no college without the faculty.”

Robinson’s motion to rescind the three-year contracts passed with a 4-2 vote. Robinson said he expects the college and the board of trustees to work on a suitable compromise that will benefit faculty and, ultimately, students.

A return to the old tenure system may not be in the college’s best interest, Robinson said, because it didn’t provide due process for all faculty, an important facet to him. When the trustees voted to eliminate tenure, or continuing contracts, Robinson said he was pleased that due process was going to be made available to all faculty, not just those who were granted tenure.

The continuing contract measure still exists for faculty already in the pipeline, said trustee Craig Trigueiro. And the recent changes apply only to new faculty brought in after July 1.

“For the next five to seven years, you could have already hired faculty that end up getting tenure,” he said.

New faculty will have to prove their worth every year now, not just for the first five to seven years before being granted tenure. Trigueiro voted against Robinson’s motion to rescind the three-year contracts, but said Wednesday he wants to move forward with the decision made by the majority of the board.

“The college needs to move forward. It’s all about the students,” he said.

The next board of trustees meeting is Aug. 23.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney