AAUP@FHSU


Pacific Lutheran University Dismissed Long-Serving Faculty Member in Violation of AAUP Principles

An AAUP report found that Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) acted in violation of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure when it summarily dismissed Jane Harty, a part-time faculty member with forty years of service in the Department of Music at PLU, in 2018. The dismissal hearing held by the university for Harty was described as a “sham exercise” in the AAUP report.

The AAUP concluded that the relatively minor nature of the misconduct in which Harty was alleged to have engaged and the summary nature of the administrative action taken suggest her dismissal may have stemmed from the administration’s long-standing displeasure with her advocacy for the rights of faculty members on contingent appointments.

Join us for a Facebook Live with AAUP senior program officer Hans-Joerg Tiede on Thursday, January 23, at 3 p.m. ET for a brief overview of the report. RSVP here.

Beginning in 2012, PLU was the site of an academic labor dispute when the Service Employees International Union attempted to organize the contingent faculty at the institution. The administration opposed this effort, based on PLU’s religious affiliation and on the claim that full-time contingent faculty members are managerial employees. Harty coauthored a report on a survey of the contingent faculty at the institution undertaken on behalf of the local AAUP chapter and led the organizing effort among the contingent faculty. Following the conclusion of an unsuccessful organizing campaign, Harty continued to engage in activism on behalf of the non-tenure-track faculty on campus, which brought her into conflict with the administration.

As the report details, in November 2018, Harty was summarily suspended from her teaching responsibilities without a dismissal hearing for allegedly violating a directive that prohibited faculty members from accepting payment from PLU students for private music lessons given independently of the university. Following lengthy correspondence between the AAUP’s staff and the administration, in which the administration’s representatives repeatedly shifted their characterization of the action against her, the PLU administration agreed to afford Harty a faculty dismissal hearing, as stipulated under AAUP-recommended standards.

At the hearing, which was attended by an AAUP observer representing the AAUP’s national office, the administration took the position that it was not actually dismissing the faculty member, and the faculty hearing body did not therefore determine whether the charges warranted dismissal. In effect, the procedure was a dismissal hearing in name only.

Read the full report here.

The AAUP


AAUP Opposes Proposed NLRB Rule That Would Bar Grad Unionizing

The AAUP has submitted comments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) opposing a proposed rule that would bar many graduate assistants from forming unions. The rule put forward by the NLRB holds that students who are also teaching or research assistants at private colleges or universities are not employees and are therefore not entitled to unionize or bargain collectively under the National Labor Relations Act.

The AAUP’s comments reject this claim and strongly refute the board’s assertion that “academic freedom” supports the proposed rule.

The AAUP has long supported the union rights of faculty and graduate assistants. In addition to the other benefits it provides, collective bargaining is an effective tool to promote and protect academic freedom. AAUP chapters have established explicit guarantees of academic freedom in their collective bargaining contracts, sometimes incorporating language from the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. These contracts make promises of academic freedom legally enforceable.

Graduate assistants perform specific work in return for compensation. The work they do is often indistinguishable from that performed by faculty members, and universities generally treat graduate assistant stipends as payment for teaching or research work, not as general financial support. As such, and as the AAUP’s comments make clear, graduate assistants are employees who should have the same rights as other private-sector employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

The comments also refute the NLRB’s assertion that potential harm to an institution’s academic freedom is a basis for excluding graduate assistants from collective bargaining, arguing that “collective bargaining by faculty and graduate assistants is one of several ways to promote academic freedom on campus, as it allows faculty, students, and administrators to discuss collectively how best to do their shared work of teaching and research.”

The comments were drafted by Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP general counsel and professor of labor and employment law at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Relations, and Rana M. Jaleel, assistant professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at the University of California, Davis.

You can read the comments and a summary of them here.

The AAUP

P.S. Looking for a primer on academic freedom? Check out our one page overview here.


Attacks expertise and higher ed threaten democracy

Today the AAUP issued In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education, a statement that advances an impassioned argument for the importance of expert knowledge and the institutions of higher education that produce and transmit it. Addressing an ongoing movement in the United States to attack the disciplines and higher education institutions, the statement defends the critical role these institutions perform in producing the knowledge that sustains American democracy, especially in this moment of intense global instability. In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education was prepared by the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and has been endorsed so far by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Council of University of California Faculty Associations, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, PEN America, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

In the statement, the AAUP calls attention to the threats posed by attacks on expert knowledge. How can a government develop effective policy when it rejects informed, dispassionate studies of climate change, suppresses its own data collection on white supremacist domestic terrorism, or imposes gag orders on doctors under regulations prohibiting discussion of abortion or contraception, merely because they contradict ideological belief? “We cannot eat ideological belief; wishful thinking will not keep us safe,” the statement asserts.

In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education connects the current attack on the disciplines and higher education with the undermining of universities that has occurred since the 1970s. Cuts in federal and state funding for public universities and for basic research have weakened universities by increasing their reliance on private support, encouraging the substitution of contingent positions for faculty appointments with indefinite tenure, widening the gap between richer and poorer institutions, and facilitating the rise of corporate management styles by administrators and trustees with the consequent diminution of faculty participation in university governance.

The statement reemphasizes the pledge of the AAUP’s founders “to safeguard freedom of inquiry and of teaching against both covert and overt attacks and to guarantee the long-established practices and principles that define the production of knowledge.” It concludes by calling on “those who value knowledge to take a stand in the face of those who would assault it, to convey to a broad public the dangers that await us—as individuals and as a society—should that pledge be abandoned.”

Read the full statement.

Henry Reichman
Chair,  Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure


AAUP Signs on to Brief in Support of Dreamers

Last week, the AAUP, together with forty-three educational associations, signed onto an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, whose participants are often referred to as “Dreamers.” The brief calls the DACA program “an unmitigated good for this country, its higher education system, and the young persons whom it has benefited.”

The brief was prepared by the American Council on Education and submitted to the high court in the consolidated DACA cases Dep’t of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of Univ. of Cal.et.al.

The amicus brief emphasizes that “DACA has been a symbol of tolerance and openness of our university campuses” and warns that rescinding DACA would broadcast to foreign-born students and potential students from around the globe a message of exclusion that would “irreparably damage the reputation of America’s higher education system in the eyes of the world.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in this case in November and a decision is expected before June 2020. The Trump administration moved to end DACA in 2017, but federal courts blocked that attempt. At that time, the AAUP issued a strong statement in support of DACA noting that “a large number of those granted DACA status are our students.” Most recently, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld one of the district court’s orders requiring the Trump administration to keep the DACA program in place.

You can find a link to the full brief here.

Risa Lieberwitz
General Counsel, AAUP


AAUP Files Brief in Gender-Based Pay Disparity Case

The AAUP has filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Professor Jennifer Freyd, who sued the University of Oregon (UO) for pay discrimination based on significant pay disparities with male faculty members. A district court had dismissed her suit based, in part, on the court’s conclusions that she and her male colleagues did not perform equal work, and that the reasons for the pay differentials did not have a disparate impact on women.

The district court, in ruling against Professor Freyd, also claimed that the pay differential was justified by the “academic freedom” of faculty to “remake their job.” The AAUP’s brief refutes this argument, writing, “academic freedom is a condition of employment that all faculty hold in common to enhance their ability to engage in teaching, research, and service. It is not a weapon to be wielded as a justification for gender-based inequalities”

The amicus brief notes that “the wage disparity in Freyd’s case is an example of the ongoing gender-based salary inequalities in the academic profession, generally, and for women full professors in doctoral institutions, in particular.”

Professor Freyd is paid substantially less than her male colleagues in the psychology department who hold the same positions as full professors. A 2016 department study found a “significant equity problem with respect to salaries at the full professor level.” The UO psychology department also underwent an external review, which found gender disparity in faculty salaries at the full professor level. It recommended that the department “continue pressing for gender equity in terms of pay at the senior levels of the faculty.” Both reviews traced the disparity back to retention raises given to male professors who pursued outside offers of employment.

While UO policy provides for gender equity adjustments, administrators failed to adjust Professor Freyd’s salary. The AAUP’s brief argues that the UO retention raise practice was not a valid defense to the discrimination claims, since UO policy provides for gender-equity adjustments but didn’t make any after boosting the pay of male faculty.

You can find a link to the full brief here. We will keep you posted as the case develops.

Risa Lieberwitz
AAUP General Counsel

P.S.–Breaking news update: in a win for affirmative action, a federal judge has upheld Harvard University’s race-conscious admissions standards. The AAUP had previously joined an amicus brief supporting Harvard’s right to exercise its academic judgment in setting admissions standards. More on that here.


Two Institutions Added to AAUP’s Censure List, One Sanctioned

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.

Thank you to all who attended the annual meeting! Stay updated on AAUP events and news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

The AAUP


A Strike, Investigations, and a Fight for Quality Teaching

Greetings!

AAUP members make higher ed work, and as many campuses approach the end of the spring term, we wanted to take a moment to highlight what a strong year it has been so far.

Here’s a video highlighting our work. Click to watch it on YouTube.

The Year So Far AAUP video

Want to share the video on Facebook? Here’s the link.

A few quick highlights:

Faculty fought to protect quality teaching over corporate profit, making gains against privatization efforts at Purdue, Eastern Michigan, and George Mason Universities.

In Ohio, the Wright State AAUP chapter won a hard-fought contract after a 20-day strike, maintaining solidarity in the face of enormous pressure. Full-time faculty and graduate employees at Rutgers settled a historic contract last month, winning significant gains just ahead of a planned strike. As of this writing, the chapter representing part-time faculty at Rutgers is still fighting for a fair contract.

The AAUP/AFT chapter at the University of Illinois-Chicago has tentatively agreed to a new contract with pay raises, increased minimum salaries, and more job protections for non-tenure-track faculty, after a year of hard-fought bargaining.

We investigated violations of academic freedom at Nunez Community College, where the dismissal of a professor who disagreed with the administration over an accreditation report was likely retaliatory, violating his academic freedom. We also released an investigative report examining how partisan ideology and political ambition motivated drastic changes by the board to institutional decision-making processes at Maricopa Community Colleges.

The thread uniting all this work? AAUP members like you. We hope to see many of you at the Annual Conference and the Summer Institute! Thank you for being a member of the AAUP.

To a solidarity-filled summer!

The AAUP