President Johnson Replaced by Miciak
Effective June 1st, the Board replaces President Michael Johnson with Al Miciak. As was the case when Miciak became Executive Vice President, this is done without a national search or any consultation with faculty or other university stakeholders. At the time he was hired as President, Johnson "joined the Boler College of Business as a professor in the department of Management, Marketing and Supply Chain. He will continue to hold that position while on sabbatical during the 2021-2022 academic year."
President Johnson Relieved of Internal University Duties
Without consulting the faculty or conducting a national search, the Board elevates the Boler College Dean Al Miciak to Executive Vice President, a new position granting him oversight over the "Senior Leadership team and all internal matters." Miciak's former superior, Provost and Academic Vice President Steven Herbert, will now report to Miciak on issues regarding new and existing programs. This removes President Johnson from any control over the university's internal affairs, allowing him to "focus on external matters, particularly as they relate to the strategic plan."
Board Formally Rejects Faculty Counterproposals
A week after approving their own amendments to the Faculty Handbook, the Board rejects the Faculty Handbook Committee's budgetary hardship counterproposal, which had received overwhelming faculty support. The rejected counterproposal gave the Board an unlimited ability to cut faculty salaries during times of budgetary hardship and unlimited time to repay the lost salary.
Board Dismantles Tenure
The Board votes to unilaterally impose its own amendments to the Faculty Handbook, effectively negating tenure at the institution.
University Announces Budget Surplus
The university presents its financial picture at a Community Forum, in which it projects a $100,000 budget surplus for the year, despite financial losses due to the COVID crisis, due to gifts received from the government and private donors. It announces that multi-million dollar renovations will take place to Dolan Hall. It notifies faculty that they might have their salaries return to pre-cut levels, depending on the size of the incoming student class. Despite the budgetary surplus, this fiscal year would trigger the Board's proposed "budgetary hardship" clause.
Faculty Approve Counterproposal
In a formal election, Faculty vote to approve the Handbook Committee's budgetary hardship counterproposal by a vote of 122-11 (3 abstentions).
President and Provost Deny Needing the Board’s Amendments
At a general meeting of the faculty, President Michael Johnson states that he sees no need to implement the Board’s amendments in the short term, but that the Board would need to consider whether future administrations might need to fire faculty under the budgetary hardship amendment. Provost Steven Herbert is more emphatic, stating that in his best judgment, “I would not need to use this tool in the near term.”
Faculty Reject Board Amendments
In a formal election, JCU's Faculty vote down the Board's proposed budgetary hardship amendments by a vote of 120-13 (1 abstention).
Return to Campus
JCU students return to campus. The university turns to a hybrid instruction model.
Final Board Proposals
The Board makes its final proposals to amend the Faculty Handbook, ignoring the arguments put forth in the Faculty counterproposal, AAUP letter, and legal memo. The Faculty Handbook Committee makes its recommendations on the final proposals explaining why these amendments are unacceptable.
The attorney Brian Mulhall drafts a supporting memo outlining Ohio case law which protects tenure as a contract. He notifies the Board that their decision to go ahead with their proposed amendments violates their fiduciary responsibility to the institution.
Working together with Faculty Council and JCU's AAUP Chapter, the Faculty Handbook Committee presents a comprehensive counterproposal that would amend the Faculty Handbook to create a budgetary hardship clause while preserving and protecting tenure. JCU's Faculty endorse this counterproposal at a general faculty meeting by a vote of 97-5.
The national AAUP writes a letter outlining the unprecedented nature of what JCU's Board is intent on doing -- noting with regard to budgetary hardship, that "In our analysis of hundreds of faculty handbooks, this is the first time we have encountered this category." Because all of JCU's faculty would be threatened by the prospect of termination, this amendment would have a silencing effect on faculty who would fear researching or teaching about controversial topics. The AAUP warns the Board that its proposed amendments would therefore deny JCU's Faculty academic freedom.
JCU alumni organize a week of protests to advocate on behalf of faculty.
In a general faculty meeting, the faculty votes 100-2 to ask the Board to table their hardship proposal and negotiate with the faculty to resolve the current financial problems in a spirit of shared governance. The Board ignores this.
The Board proposes a series of amendments to the Faculty Handbook. The most significant of these is a budgetary hardship proposal, which would effectively strip all faculty of tenure rights. In times when the University could project a budgetary shortfall, it would be able to arbitrarily terminate individual faculty members, regardless of their tenure status.
Tenured Professors Fired
Operating outside the provisions of the Faculty Handbook, the administration forms an ad hoc committee to close multiple programs. The committee suggests that the Art History program be retained as a minor, but the administration decides to terminate the Art History program entirely and lay off its two remaining faculty members, both of whom are tenured (Dr. Gerry Guest and Dr. Bo Liu).
Due to projected budgetary crisis, faculty are notified that they will not be paid the dollar amounts in their contracts, but will receive cuts proportionate to their salaries, generally between 5% and 10%. These reductions are presented as temporary, one-year cuts. Faculty have no input over this decision. While these cuts are justified by a Faculty Handbook provision that allows “a general reduction of salaries to avoid reaching the point of financial exigency,” President Johnson clarifies that “it is important to note that the administration has not indicated that financial exigency exists or is ‘imminent’.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, JCU begins laying off staff members.
The COVID-19 pandemic shuts down Ohio campuses. John Carroll initiates remote instruction.