AAUP@FHSU


September COVID-19 Update

As many faculty have begun a new term, we continue to work to provide everyone with guidance and trainings to help navigate these difficult times. Check out our upcoming webinar, a newly announced investigation, and updated campus opening guidance below.

Financial Exigency during COVID

On Thursday, October 1, at 2 p.m. Eastern time, we will host a webinar for AAUP members providing an overview of recommended AAUP-supported standards on financial exigency and program elimination that should be included in faculty handbooks and collective bargaining agreements, with a particular focus on financial exigency and the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar will be led by Hans-Joerg Tiede, a senior program officer at the AAUP, and Mark Criley, a professor at Illinois Wesleyan University. Note that this webinar covers much of the same material as the financial exigency webinar held in April 2020. RSVP here.

AAUP Investigates Academic Governance during COVID-19

The AAUP has authorized an investigation of the crisis in academic governance that has occurred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on seven institutions: Canisius College (NY), Illinois Wesleyan University, Keuka College (NY), Marian University (WI), Medaille College (NY), National University (CA), and Wittenberg University (OH). Given the comprehensive nature of the undertaking, the investigating committee may decide to discuss relevant situations at additional institutions. The report, to be released in early 2021, will reach findings on whether there have been departures from AAUP-supported principles and standards of academic governance, as set forth in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities and derivative AAUP policy documents, but it may explore other issues as well, such as the effects of unilaterally imposed mass layoffs on academic freedom and tenure, the enrollment and financial challenges facing many institutions, and the impact of these challenges on higher education, especially the humanities and liberal arts. Read more and watch a Facebook Live with the co-chairpersons of the investigation here.

Campus Opening Guidance Updated

We have updated our guidance on reopening and operating campuses during the pandemic to include recent developments.

Fall Academe Preview

Last week, Academe published several online articles, including a new series of “pandemic reflections” by faculty members and AAUP activists, in a preview of our forthcoming fall issue on the COVID-19 crisis. Visit Academe online to read more.

An Invitation from Academe Blog

Colleges and universities around the country have approached the fall term in a variety of ways, and those approaches are constantly evolving. Whether your institution is holding classes in person or online or using a hybrid model, Academe Blog welcomes submissions from members about the challenges of teaching and engaging with and supporting students—and about other faculty concerns—during the ongoing pandemic. See submissions information here.

We’ll be in touch with another COVID-19 update in October. Stay strong, stay safe.

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP


AAUP investigates governance issues posed by the COVID-19

The American Association of University Professors has authorized an investigation of the crisis in academic governance that has occurred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on seven institutions: Canisius College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Keuka College, Marian University, Medaille College, National University, and Wittenberg University. Given the comprehensive nature of the undertaking, the investigating committee may decide to discuss relevant situations at additional institutions. The report, to be released in early 2021, will reach findings on whether there have been departures from AAUP-supported principles and standards of academic governance, as set forth in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities and derivative AAUP policy documents, but it may explore other issues as well, such as the effects of unilaterally imposed mass layoffs on academic freedom and tenure, the enrollment and financial challenges facing many institutions, and the impact of these challenges on higher education, especially the humanities and liberal arts.

Since March, the AAUP has received numerous complaints from faculty members detailing unilateral actions taken by their governing boards and administrations to dictate how courses are taught, to suspend key institutional regulations, to reduce and close departments and majors, to compel faculty members to teach in person, and to lay off long-serving faculty members. In most cases, the stated basis for the actions was the need to deal with pandemic-related financial shortfalls.

This investigation will be unique in the annals of the AAUP. The AAUP conducted another omnibus investigation in 2006 of mass terminations at five New Orleans universities following Hurricane Katrina, and in 1956 the Association issued a celebrated report, Academic Freedom and Tenure in the Quest for National Security, reviewing the attacks on academic freedom that had occurred at eighteen institutions during the McCarthy era. These investigations and reports, however, dealt with issues of academic freedom and tenure, not with issues of academic governance.

AAUP governance investigations are conducted under the aegis of the Association’s standing Committee on College and University Governance by AAUP members who have had no previous involvement in the cases under investigation. The investigating committee is charged with independently determining the relevant facts and the positions of the principal parties before reaching its findings. The committee’s draft report, if approved for publication by the parent committee, is distributed to the administration and the relevant faculty bodies for comment and correction of fact. The AAUP takes these comments into account when preparing the final report.

The investigating committee is co-chaired by Michael Bérubé of Pennsylvania State University and Michael DeCesare of Merrimack College, chair of the AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance. Additional members are Ruben J. Garcia, of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Pippa Holloway of the University of Richmond; Susan Jarosi of Hamilton College; and Henry Reichman, of California State University, East Bay, chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

For more insight, you can watch a livestream discussion of the investigation with committee co-chairs Michael Bérubé and Michael DeCesare on Wednesday, September 23, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time on our Facebook page. The video will be available after the stream concludes if you’re unable to watch live.

We will send updates on the investigation as they come.

In solidarity,
Gregory Scholtz
Director, AAUP Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance


Solidarity Will See Us Through

We are heading into a new academic year in turbulent times. The coronavirus global pandemic has drastically altered our lives, our jobs, and the lives of our students and our staff colleagues, with no end in sight. The murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, among others, and now Jacob Blake fighting for his life in Wisconsin, have put systemic institutionalized racism in the United States into stark relief.

In the past few weeks, we have seen a number of colleges and universities move ahead with reopening in person for the fall semester. Rather than relying on scientific expertise regarding the pandemic and the likelihood of transmission in a residential campus environment and its surrounding community, administrations and boards of trustees have engaged in magical thinking. Few institutions appear to be doing enough testing, and, somehow, they expect all students to follow strict rules at all times. Reopening decisions are being driven by the bottom line instead of the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and all campus workers.

The outcomes from these decisions and the lack of planning behind these decisions was predictable: a spike in cases on campus; the difficulty in feeding and housing students who must quarantine; the deficiency in mitigating risks for others due to a lack of testing and robust contact tracing; and a hasty retreat to remote learning, sending potentially infected students back to their families and communities. For most administrations and boards, the top priority is the bottom line. They continue to embrace the corporate model and to further a decades-long assault on higher education as a common good.

Disturbing instances of blatant police violence against and harassment of Black people, including on our campuses, continues. Just within the last few weeks, a Black faculty member at Santa Clara University reported that campus police knocked on her door and demanded proof that she lives in her own house, after harassing her brother as he worked on a laptop outside.

The problems we face are serious and will not be easily resolved. Some good news is that faculty are mobilizing across ranks and with other academic workers and students to forward antiracist activism and to ensure that hastily implemented austerity measures do not become the new normal. Here are just a few examples of faculty activism that are making me optimistic this Labor Day week:

  • After a long, intensive campaign by a broad coalition of faculty, students, staff, and alumni at Portland State University, the administration has agreed to disarm campus police.
  • The national AAUP has convened a working group to draft a report on the role of police on campus, including whether it is appropriate for institutions of higher education to have their own police forces; how systemic racism affects campus policing; changes needed to ensure that campuses are safe and welcoming for diverse peoples, especially Black, indigenous and other peoples of color; and how AAUP chapters and members can best work in solidarity with student groups, community social justice organizations, and unions on this issue.
  • Our faculty union at Rutgers University has been working closely with a coalition of other campus unions to center racial justice and to ensure health and safety and to negotiate with the administration on proposed cuts. “This is not something that naturally occurred,” one chapter leader told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “It’s a big investment and big strategic change to decide to build power together.”
  • The George Mason University AAUP chapter brought to light the fact that several Virginia universities entered into no-bid contracts with a company to provide students with COVID-19 tests that are not approved for that use.
  • New memberships in the AAUP are up this summer, signaling a new wave of campus activism. At our August meeting, the AAUP Council authorized charters for twenty-five new or reactivated AAUP chapters.

This Labor Day week, I ask you to join me and other AAUP members in recommitting to doing the hard work of ensuring that higher education is a public good available to all in this country. You can share our Labor Day graphic to help spread the message that solidarity will see us through.

Solidarity will see us through graphic

In solidarity,
Irene Mulvey
AAUP President

P.S. And remember to check out the resources and information on our racial justice and coronavirus pages.


August COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 graphic

Here’s a round-up of some of our latest work that touches on the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you are staying safe and well in these trying times.

Medical Faculty Solidarity Letter

AAUP president Irene Mulvey saluted the work of AAUP clinical, medical research, nursing, and health professions faculty. The statement of solidarity provides guidance for all chapters and members on how they can support such faculty going forward. Read more here.

Recommendations of the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession

The AAUP’s Committee on Contingency and the Profession provided recommendations to the higher education community about how to address the unique challenges contingent faculty face during the pandemic. These recommendations are followed by resources that can help chapters fighting for contingent faculty to get paid sick leave, to increase their job security in the fall, to apply for unemployment benefits, to retain their intellectual property rights after the emergency transition to remote instruction, to protect their academic freedom, and to gain better access to shared governance structures. Read more here.

AAUP Masks

New swag for new times: our online store will be offering non-medical-grade masks starting next week. There will be six different versions, including ones with the AAUP logo and another that says, “You can’t silence academic freedom.” We’ll share the link to the masks in the next update. In the meantime, you can check out other items in our store.

Masks image

AAUP Joins Amicus Brief Opposing DHS Directive

The AAUP joined over seventy other higher education organizations in submitting an amicus brief, prepared by the American Council on Education, in support of a successful legal challenge filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the US Department of Homeland Security in the US District Court in Massachusetts. The challenge sought to prevent DHS’s July 6 directive, which rescinded a prior COVID-19 exemption for international students participating in online education, from taking effect so that thousands of international students couldn’t continue to participate in educational opportunities in the United States, even if their course of study is online. Read more here.

Virtual Summer Institute

The AAUP Summer Institute was virtual this year. Our ninety-minute sessions covered a wide range of topics, from campus decisions about reopening to supporting student protests to pushing back against austerity budgets. A special plenary panel highlighted the experiences of frontline health-care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can watch recordings of the sessions here.

Academe and Academe Blog

Last month, Academe published several new online articles addressing the COVID-19 crisis in higher education, and Academe Blog continues to highlight faculty perspectives on the pandemic in blog posts about academic governance during a financial crisis, mask mandates, remote teaching, and other topics.

We’ll be in touch with another COVID-19 update in September.

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP


AAUP Stands in Solidarity with Medical Faculty

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all—as teachers, as researchers, as workers, and as individuals. But one thing remains constant: the public good that higher education faculty provide.

AAUP clinical, medical research, nursing, and health professions faculty, along with staff and students, have been saving lives under extraordinary circumstances. Their work comes at great personal risk to themselves. Often, clinical faculty must live apart from their families to keep them safe while they treat COVID-19 patients at teaching hospitals. Other medical faculty help the public understand the public health implications of policy decisions and provide advice that informs the reopening plans at our institutions. Medical researchers devise new treatments and tests. Faculty shape the next generation of medical professionals through their teaching and mentoring. Academic medicine is a public good, now more than ever.

The American Association of University Professors Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey union represents about 1,500 faculty doing this essential work. Faculty work with the state as epidemiologists, build personal protective equipment (PPE) with 3D printers, and care for patients. Members of this unit developed the first at-home saliva test for COVID-19, which received an emergency use authorization from the FDA. This test is less invasive, and it reduces exposure to the virus, saves PPE for uses other than testing, and delivers results more quickly than other tests.

Nearly five hundred AAUP members work at the University of Connecticut Health Center. They too treat, teach, and research. Members at UCHC-AAUP and at the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut have formed a joint group of doctors, engineers, scientists, and others to develop PPE together. Their project is producing mask frames, face shields, swabs, and even ventilators by using 3D printers at institutions and in their communities.

We stand in solidarity with those who are saving lives through their expertise, knowledge, and care during this pandemic. To our members who are treating patients and doing vital research—and to those who are educating students, administrators, and the public about COVID-19—please know that we stand with you and that we thank you for your work.

How can you help?

If you are near Farmington, CT, and have use of a 3D printer or ideas for mask donation and acquisition, please contact the team at covid19donations@uchc.edu. Or you can work with your chapter leadership to set up a local mask donation team for an area institution in need of supplies. You can email a simple message of support to leaders and staff at UCHC-AAUPAAUP-Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey, and Wayne State University AAUP-AFT to boost their spirits. And do the same for clinical, medical research, nursing, and health professions faculty and staff at your institution.

Irene Mulvey
President, AAUP