Rising Tensions On Display At Transylvania University

Apr 9, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Confusion over recent tenure decisions and accusations of a growing disconnect between the administration and faculty and students are increasing tensions at Transylvania University.

Credit Old Morrison Building at Transylvania University

Some Transylvania faculty claim university president Owen Williams unfairly denied tenure for two junior faculty members based on standards that are not scheduled to be implemented at the school until 2014. According to a letter sent to Williams by faculty, the decision has contributed to a “climate of distrust and demoralization.”

Jake Hawkins, editor-in-chief of the Transy Rambler student newspaper, says it’s a perception that isn’t limited to professors, as students too have been protesting what they see as an unresponsive administration. The tenure issue, he says, is part of a larger pattern some find troubling.

"That was just kind of the final straw, and now the students particularly are upset with lack of communication and when there is communication students are telling me it's condescending communication," Hawkins says.

Williams said Monday that tenure for the two professors in question had not been denied, but deferred, and that one had since been granted tenure. He pointed to a lack of consistency in how the school’s tenure policy is applied.

As for morale, Williams did attend a student protest last Friday and acknowledged that tough decisions can affect the mood on campus, but so far he has not indicated whether he plans to attend a forum requested by students.