Emporia State University: University Adopts Policy Stripping Tenure Protections Then Fires 33 Faculty Members


Emporia State University

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Case Overview

On September 14, 2022, Emporia State University adopted a policy giving administrators broad discretion to terminate tenured faculty for reasons including, but not limited to, realignment of resources, low enrollment, and operating costs. The policy also set the notice requirement for terminations at 30 days, put the Kansas Board of Regents in charge of the appeals process rather than administrators and other faculty, and placed the burden of proof on faculty to show they were wrongfully fired. On September 15, ESU used the policy to fire 33 faculty members, including journalism professor Max McCoy, who had written a column criticizing the university and the policy two days prior. FIRE wrote ESU on October 31, warning of the policy’s unfairness and its potential threat to academic freedom, and calling for the university to reconsider both the policy and the firings. ESU responded November 14, refusing to revisit the policy or reinstate any faculty and denying the policy posed any threat to academic freedom.