Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mersin University is leading the public universities in Turkey in firing Academics for Peace

From the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet

About forty of the signatories of the Petition for Peace have already lost their jobs. Most of these signatories were working at private universities where faculty members usually work with short term contracts (there is no tenure at Turkish private universities). Many public universities have started administrative review procedures against Academics for Peace. According to Kemal Göktaş, a reporter at the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, Mersin University, however, found much more "creative" ways to fire Academics for Peace. With the addition of three new cases of firing that will be effective tomorrow (April 14), Mersin University will have fired six faculty members who signed the Petition for Peace. The details of one of these cases are quite revealing:

Veli Mert, an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Mersin University was up for a review for the renewal of his contract, the periods of which the presidency of the university shortened from three to two years without changing any formal regulations. In Turkish universities academics collect points for their research, which are then used to measure their readiness for renewal of contracts and, eventually, associate professorship with something like tenure at state universities. While one needs to have 60 points for the renewal of an assistant professorship contract, Dr. Mert had 419 points. Yet he was fired.

The committee that was appointed to review Dr. Mert's file by the Dean's office included, contrary to the regulations of the Higher Education Institution (Turkey's central administrative and regulatory agency for all universities), two members from outside the university. While Professor Nurseren Tor, who is a colleague of Dr. Mert at Mersin University, evaluated his file positively, Associate Professor Mutluhan Taş from Konya Selçuk University and Associate Professor Mehmet Özkartal from Isparta Süleyman Demirel University found the 419 points that Dr. Mert gathered not sufficient for the renewal of his contract. Later, the executive council of the Faculty of Fine Arts discussed this review and decided against the renewal of Dr. Mert's contract. Professor Tor, who had evaluated Dr. Mert's file positively, became one of the signatories of the decision against the contract renewal.

Earlier, Dr. Yasemin Karaca's contract for assistant professorship was not renewed based on the decision of a review committee all three members of which were appointed from outside the university.