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University budget crisis justified tenure cut

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Professors who teach at public institutions and have tenure are generally protected from job cuts. But under some circumstances, they still may lose their jobs. For example, during a budget crisis that requires program cuts, even tenured professors may find themselves unemployed.

Recent case: Robert taught economics at a state university and had tenure. But when state budget cuts hit higher education hard, majors and minors in economics were eliminated. That meant Robert’s tenure was cut, too. Instead, he was offered an instructor position teaching econ courses for business students.

He sued, alleging the changes violated due process and interfered with his existing contractual rights.

The court disagreed. It said funding restrictions meant Robert’s program no longer existed; therefore his contract could be nullified. (Jones v. Louisiana Board of Supervisors, No. 14-31255, 5th Cir., 2015)

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