Recently, Yeungnam University (YU) took action against professors who resigned and went to work at other universities. These include Professors Chung Tai-uk & Shin Woo-cheol, Chae Hyung-bok from the College of Law, Professor Kim Joo-hwan from the School of Ceramics and Semiconductor Materials, and Professor Choi Mi-suk from the Department of Korean Language Education. They are all subject to disciplinary measures including dismissal, discharge and suspension from YU. Conflict between the faculty council and the university authority resulted from this decision. The faculty council say that the university authorities are violating the rights of the professors. In the meantime, the authorities insist that the university is suffering from disruption in its various project the five professors unexpectedly quitted their job.
A Chronology of the Event at follows:
February, 2006: five professors submit their resignations
March 15th: the authorities announce a deposition notice to the five professors
March 21st: the authorities demand attendance of professors at the disciplinary committee meeting
March 30th: conclusion of disciplinary measures at the fourth disciplinary committee meeting
March 31st: announcement of disciplinary measures against the five professors
The university authorities asked those professors thinking of resignation to postpone their decisions. When those professors decided to continue to work elsewhere, the authority accused the professors of negligence of duty. According to the authority, this brought about various subsequent disciplinary measures by the disciplinary committee. Each measure has different intended consequences, depending upon the level of misconduct on the part of the professors. Firstly, dismissal which is the harshest measure that one can't work as a professor in another university for five years. He can also receive only half of his entitled retirement funds. Secondly, being discharged has the effect that one can't work as a professor in another university for three years. Finally, if a professor is subject to suspension, he or she will be paid only two thirds of his or her salary for three months.
These harsh punishments declared by the university authorities have caused conflict between the university authorities and the faculty council. Consequently, the validity of punishment advanced by the authorities is to the judged in court. The five professors who were appointed to work in other universities have requested a retrial to the Appeals Commission for Teachers in the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development.
Meanwhile, on the 1st of March YU hired new professors, and it also some professors who met requirements, promoted on the 1st of April in accordance with a new contract document including the clause: 'If the said professor should want to terminate his or her contract with YU for his or her private reasons, he or she can't resign during the semester but has to ask for the acceptance of resignation three months in advance.' The inclusion of this statement has made current professors at YU worry about whether to quit the university or remain at YU.
According to the university authorities, the committee mad their decision in accordance with the rule: 'If a professor wants to cancel his or her contract with YU, he or she can't resign during the semester and has to ask permission for resignation three months in advance.' Furthermore, the authorities say that resignation even at this stage presents some problems for them. First of all, YU has tried to employ many professors for establishing the New school of Law and 'NURI'. According to the authorities, the resignation of the five professors from YU has prevented the smooth progress of developing such project. Unnamed sources revealed that their resignation has raised a serious question about professors' ethics. Although a professor must state his intention to resign before he quits his job, the recent group submitted letters of resignation after their appointments at other universities. An anonymous person, who is reluctant to reveal his own name, accused the professors of unethical behavior. However, the biggest issue at stake is the rights of students to attend classes.
As a matter of fact, the right of students to attend lectures was infringed last March. The law school was effectively crippled by the departure of three professors. With the intervention of the authority, new instructors were not replaced before the classes started for the spring semester. YU put up a notice stating "Lectures will proceed as normal."
Nonetheless, there is a dissenting opinion voiced by some professors. They think that punishment a professor for his professional decision to resign is an infringement on the teacher's authority. They go on to point out that teachers have the liberty of choosing their occupation, without being labeled deserters. They further added that whether one resigns with three months' notice or not, such punishment will terminates one's employment with an accusation of 'walking out', 'negligence of duties', or violation of holding 'more than one office'. The university is not labor camp.
Due to this thorny issue on campus, the question of fair employment conditions was seriously raised. At the same time, the late arrangement for substitution brought out damage on the part of students who wanted to attend lectures. This caused again conflict raised the students and those who operate the classes. Furthermore, the prestige and the status of our university is severely damaged due to the consequence of disciplinary action.
Further consequences will include the loss of classes on the part of student the fact that administrative problems and financial expenses to meet the costs of the lawsuit on the part of the university. The disciplinary professors have all undergone mental and bodily anguish resulting in insomnia, astraphobia, and drastic physical decline and other unfortunate conditions.
One case was settled but the decision was thereafter nullified. Now the authorities may claim for damage. However, there is a possibility that the professors can bring a counteraction as a claim for emotional damage. In this way, the lawsuit will drag on, and there is no happy end in sight, either from within the university, or from without.