The AAUP annual meeting voted today to add St. Edward’s University of Texas and Nunez Community College of Louisiana to the AAUP’s list of administrations censured for failing to observe generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure. The meeting also voted to add Vermont Law School to the AAUP’s list of institutions sanctioned for serious departures from AAUP-supported standards of academic governance and to remove Idaho State University from the list.
Censure by the AAUP informs the public as well as the academic community that the administration of an institution has not adhered to the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure jointly formulated in 1940 by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and endorsed by more than 250 professional and educational organizations. As of today, 58 institutions remain on the censure list.
In the case of St. Edward’s, the AAUP investigating committee examined the dismissals of two tenured faculty members and the nonrenewal of a tenure-track faculty member, and concluded they were dismissed without being afforded academic due process. The committee also found credible the two faculty members’ claims that their criticism of administrative decisions had led to the actions against them. With regard to the tenure-track faculty member, the committee found that she had not been afforded adequate notice of nonrenewal or the opportunity to appeal the decision to a faculty body. General conditions for academic freedom and governance at St. Edward’s were found to be “abysmal,” with “fear and demoralization” widespread among the faculty. You can read the report, released in March, here.
At Nunez Community College, the administration terminated the services of an associate professor of English who had served the institution for twenty-two years. The investigating committee concluded that the administration had not afforded the professor the dismissal hearing to which he was entitled as the result of having obtained de facto tenure through length of service. The investigating committee further concluded that the administration took the action in violation of the professor’s academic freedom to speak on institutional matters without fear of reprisal. You can read the full report here, and you can watch aFacebook Live discussion with committee chair Nicholas Fleisher here.
Vermont Law School (VLS) was added to the sanction list after an AAUP investigating committee found departures from AAUP-supported standards of academic governance evident in a faculty “restructuring” process at VLS that resulted in lowering salaries, reducing the number of full-time positions, and effectively eliminating the tenured status of nearly 75 percent of the institution’s highest paid faculty members. The investigating committee found that the faculty played no meaningful role in analyzing, assessing, or, most important, approving the restructuring plan. The report also found that unacceptable conditions of academic governance prevail at the institution. You can read the report of the investigation here.
Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho, was removed from the sanctioned institutions list. The administration of Idaho State University was sanctioned in 2011 after the Idaho State Board of Education suspended the faculty senate on the recommendation of the university’s president, following several years of intense conflict between the senate and the administration. In spring 2018 the president whose actions led to the sanction retired and his successor approved a proposed new faculty senate constitution that the faculty had ratified. Following its adoption by the state board of education, faculty this spring elected a new senate under the revised constitution. The faculty senate, the university’s AAUP chapter, and the administration supported removing the sanction, and an AAUP representative who recently visited the campus found conditions for faculty governance at ISU to be sound.
After being the subject of an investigating report this year, Maricopa Community Colleges was not placed on the sanction or censure list because it has moved forward in restoring sound principles of academic governance. In March, an investigating committee inquired into the actions of the governing board of the Maricopa County Community College District to terminate a “meet-and-confer” provision and mandate repeal of the entire faculty manual, effectively stripping faculty of the right to participate in institutional decision making. Since the committee’s first assessment, the situation for faculty at Maricopa County Community Colleges has taken a welcome turn. Three new members were elected to the district governing board, and a new board president was elected. Among the first actions of the board’s new leadership was to adopt a resolution that rescinded the termination of meet-and-confer and the repeal of the faculty manual. The AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance did not make a recommendation regarding sanction to this annual meeting and will continue to monitor developments at the colleges. You can read the report on the investigation here, and watch Facebook Live discussion with investigating committee chair Irene Mulvey here.