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Vermont Law School

This Law School Announced Plans To Cut Tenured Positions

A law school has announced that it will be cutting professors’ tenure due to budgetary concerns.

Inside Higher Ed reports that Vermont Law School, plans to change a select number of tenured professors to untenured posts to help deal with ongoing financial troubles.

“It is no secret that [Vermont], like many institutions of higher education (and particularly law schools), has been facing considerable financial pressures for most of this decade,” President Thomas McHenry announced in an email to students and faculty. “We are currently undergoing a process of programmatic restructuring: one that focuses our faculty and staff resources on our core educational goals and most essential and useful programs.” 

Maintaining A Strong Environmental Program

Most known for its environmental law program, Vermont Law School says maintaining its environmental program is a priority in budget considerations.

“As difficult as this process is, we feel confident in the end Vermont Law School will be a stronger, more vibrant institution that is sustainable in the long term and that continues to meet our mission of an exceptional legal education, producing leaders, and being a preeminent environmental law school,” Colleen Connor, VLS board of trustees chair, said in a statement.

Vermont Law has struggled in recent years with low enrollment and high debt, according to Inside Higher Ed. This fall, however, enrollment is expected to rise with 180 first-year students joining. Inside Higher Ed reports that the “law school has a waiting list for the first time in years.” 

Skepticism About Decision

A number of individuals have voiced their skepticism regarding Vermont Law’s announcement.

Greg Scholtz is the director of academic freedom and tenure at the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Scholtz told Inside Higher Ed that “tenure and its protection of academic freedom are essential for a higher education institution to be ‘stronger,’ ‘more vibrant,’ and capable of ‘pre-eminence’ and producing ‘exceptional education.’”

Anita Levy, senior program officer at AAUP, tells VTDigger that since the announcement, three Vermont Law professors have called her office and said their positions were being cut.

“We are monitoring the situation,” Levy told VTDigger. “From our point of view, the termination of tenure is a very serious matter.”

Sources: Inside Higher Ed, VTDigger