CASPER, Wyo. — Chris Henrichsen, the unsuccessful Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Cynthia Lummis in this year's U.S. House race, said his teaching contract was not renewed at Casper College, and he cited his campaigning as one of the reasons.
On Twitter post Saturday evening, Henrichsen initially said his political activities led to his contract not getting renewed.
“Starting the application process for next Fall. Not because of the #cchom tragedy but because I’m not wanted by @CasperCollege.”
A minute later he posted: “Never run for office before getting tenure.”
A minute after that, he posted: “Oh … and don’t run as a Democrat in WY.”
Shortly after, Henrichsen scrubbed the tweets from his account.
Henrichsen wouldn't elaborate on how being a Democratic candidate would hurt his position as a political-science professor.
“I’m sort of hesitant to be speculative of why it is, outside of talking to family,” he said.
Casper College does not discuss personnel matters, college spokesman Rich Fujita said.
At community colleges, the process for tenure is shorter than at research universities, Henrichsen said.
Fujita provided the Star-Tribune a 1992 document that outlines the journey to tenure, which at Casper College is called being offered a “continuing contract.”
At the beginning of a teacher’s third year, a committee will review his performance. The committee is made up of the teacher’s division chairman, a faculty member with continuing status chosen by the chairman and a faculty member with continuing status chosen by the teacher. Others can be on the committee if there are special accreditation standards.
The committee makes the recommendation on the faculty member’s status and forwards it to the vice president of academic affairs.
The review committee considers student evaluations, division chair evaluations, a personal interview “and any other relevant material contained in the personnel fie of the faculty member seeking continuing contract status,” the document states.
Committee members visit at least one class taught by the faculty member “to observe course content and teaching methods.” The faculty member knows of the scheduled visit beforehand.
The committee recommends to the vice president either to grant continuing status, to withhold it for an additional year while continuing the review process or to deny continuing status, which means the teacher’s employment ends after the current contract.
In an interview with the Casper Star-Tribune, Henrichsen discussed his plans for the future.
He does not want to run for office in 2014.
“So we’re in the process of doing two things: I’ve applied to a few universities to teach and also in the process of starting up a nonprofit group to deal with issues related to politics in the West,” he said.
He said he’s developing it with some associates. Henrichsen doesn’t like the word “think tank,” but he wants the nonprofit to be nonpartisan.
“Our hope is to deal with religion in the public sphere, issues with women in politics as well as issues related to sort of the Western U.S. in the 21st century,” he said.
He doesn’t expect to get another teaching job in Wyoming, since the state doesn’t have many students or colleges. He’ll work on the nonprofit full time or part time, depending on whether he gets another teaching job.
“We’ve had a great time in Casper. We wanted to stay,” Henrichsen said. “We had fully planned on staying for the rest of our lives. But at the same time, trying to get tenure is like a three-year engagement, and the college decided to break it off.”