AAUP@FHSU


Dismissal at Linfield – Academic Freedom Violated

Today, the AAUP published the report of an investigating committee on the dismissal of Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a tenured English professor and endowed chair in Shakespeare studies at Linfield University in Oregon. The report finds that Linfield’s administration violated the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the institution’s own regulations, which incorporate AAUP dismissal standards, when it dismissed Pollack-Pelzner without demonstrating adequate cause for its action before an elected faculty hearing body.

The investigating committee also found that the administration violated Pollack-Pelzner’s academic freedom to participate in institutional governance without retaliation. General conditions for academic freedom and shared governance at Linfield University, the report states, are “deplorable.”

Pollack-Pelzner’s difficulties began after the faculty elected him faculty representative on the board of trustees. Following his first board meeting in the role of “faculty trustee,” female colleagues and former students reported that they had been the objects of sexual misconduct by board members at social events following board meetings. Pollack-Pelzner shared these allegations with the board and requested remedial action. When the board and administration refused to address the problem, he made the sexual misconduct charges public on Twitter, along with the charge of antisemitism (Pollack-Pelzner is Jewish) on the part of administrators and board members. Less than a month after he posted his Tweets, the Linfield administration terminated his tenured appointment without affording him any process, much less the academic due process required by the AAUP.

Professor Pollack-Pelzner’s dismissal occurred in a context of eroding shared governance, which has jeopardized the faculty’s exercise of academic freedom and contributed to a culture of abuse. At its June meeting, AAUP’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure will vote on whether to recommend adding Linfield University to the Association’s list of censured administrations. For more about AAUP censure, click here.

You can read the full report here.

Charles Toombs, Professor, San Diego State University
Chair of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure


Faculty Compensation Survey Data

The AAUP has released provisional data from the 2021–22 Faculty Compensation Survey, including summary tablesappendices with detailed institution-level data, and an interactive AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey Results Tool. AAUP chapter and conference leaders may order full datasets and research portal access free of charge and institutions may purchase data products for a fee. Complete analyses of this year’s results will be presented in the forthcoming Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2021–22, to be published in June. Final data, including corrected appendices, will be released in July.

Data collection for the AAUP’s 2021–22 Faculty Compensation Survey concluded in March, with over 900 US colleges and universities providing employment data for over 370,000 full-time and 90,000 part-time faculty members as well as senior administrators at over 500 institutions. Participants reflected the wide range of institution types across the United States, including nearly 280 major research universities, 320 regional universities, 160 liberal arts colleges, 100 community colleges, and 170 minority-serving institutions.

The AAUP’s annual Faculty Compensation Survey complements the US Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Human Resources survey component and collects not only full-time faculty salary data by rank, gender, and contract length, but also four additional components, including (a) full-time faculty benefits, including retirement, medical, and dependent tuition benefits, (b) data on continuing full-time faculty, (c) salary data on key administrative positions, and (d) salary and benefits data for part-time adjunct faculty members who were paid per course section in the prior academic year. The AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey is the largest source of data on part-time adjunct faculty members and draws attention to the appallingly low rates of pay and benefits offered to them at many institutions. Data on part-time adjunct faculty were collected for the prior academic year, 2020–21, to ensure that institutions could provide complete data for an entire academic year.

Last year’s annual report documented the lowest nominal wage growth for full-time faculty since the AAUP began tracking annual wage growth in 1972. The forthcoming annual report will further document the economic impact of the COVID–19 pandemic on faculty in a year when the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 7 percent, the largest December-to-December percentage increase since 1981. The report will document not only changes in the economic status for full-time faculty members, but also the status of part-time adjunct faculty members who are paid on a per-course-section basis—and contingent faculty members in general—as well as the continued underrepresentation in higher ranks and pay disparities for women full-time faculty members.

For information about the AAUP’s annual Faculty Compensation Survey, visit https://www.aaup.org/our-work/research/FCS.

Best wishes,
Glenn Colby, AAUP Senior Researcher


Educational Gag Orders – March Update

Ten states have already adjourned their regular legislative sessions for the year. As a result, thirty-one educational gag order bills (EGOs) we had been tracking are now inactive. Though special sessions are possible in all adjourned states, they have only been convened in New Mexico and Virginia, where they will focus solely on economic and budget issues.

An additional thirteen bills have died or been tabled in legislatures that are still in session. We’ve gone from tracking 125 bills to tracking fewer than eighty—still a lot, but considerably fewer.

The assault against academic freedom and teaching about racism remains extraordinarily strong, but in addition to the bills that have fallen off our list for this year, we continue to see good news and member success in fighting back.

Last month, I mentioned that HB 1134, a bill in Indiana, had stalled following an extraordinary show of opposition from AAUP members, K–12 teachers, staff, students, and parents. I am glad to tell you that the bill is now effectively dead. AAUP members and chapters in Indiana joined with other organizations and coalitions to make their voices heard, and it worked. The Purdue-West Lafayette AAUP chapter passed a statement in opposition to the bill, which was sent to every legislator who represents the university’s district. Faculty, including AAUP members, at Indiana University Bloomington worked through the group University Faculty for Racial Justice (UFRJ), which was formed specifically to defeat HB 1134. UFRJ gathered over 200 faculty signatures on an open letter that pressured IU to take a stand against the bill. The group organized numerous actions, including phone calls, emails, and faculty testimony at legislative committee hearings. This is the exponential power of collective action. Every person, chapter, and organization that spoke up and showed up combined into one powerful voice that succeeded in stopping HB 1134 in its tracks.

In Georgia, the situation has improved for higher education, which has been removed from all active EGOs. But the legislature there continues to pursue educational gag orders targeting K–12, while simultaneously refusing to hear testimony from students who have expressed opposition to one of the bills (HB 1034).

In Mississippi, SB 2113 was passed by the legislature and approved by governor Tate Reeves. The silver lining is that, out of the eleven bills that had been active in Mississippi, SB 2113 is the least egregious. It prohibits schools (including higher ed institutions) from compelling students to “affirm, adopt, or adhere” to the ideas that 1) one race is superior or inferior to another, or 2) that a person should be “adversely treated” based on their gender, race, etc. There is no enforcement mechanism.

If you or your chapter are looking for ways to make a strong statement regarding academic freedom, consider participating in the April 30 March for Education. Organized by the Missouri Equity Education Partnership, the March for Education is an opportunity to connect and organize with other education professionals, teachers, parents, and concerned community members in a show of strength and support. Legislators determined to attack free speech, free and open inquiry, and academic freedom need to know that we’re not only watching what they do, but that we will not sit quietly on the sidelines while they attempt to censor history and silence faculty. The March for Education website includes step-by-step guidance for hosting a march in your city.

Thank you for everything you’ve done these last few months to fight back against educational gag orders. We’ve experienced some success, and I have no doubt that there’s more success to come with your help!

In solidarity,

Stephanie Lamore, AAUP Government Relations


Redefinitions of Anti-Semitism and Racism?

We issued a statement today condemning recent political attempts to restrict teaching that critically examines the history and policies of the state of Israel and the United States. In the first case, legislation redefines antisemitism to include political criticism of the state of Israel. In the second, legislation redefines critical analysis of the history of slavery and its legacies in US society as being itself racially discriminatory against whites. In both cases these draconian initiatives paint robust academic inquiry as dangerous and contradict the purpose of higher education to serve the common good.

Such legislation imposes extreme unjustified restrictions on faculty speech and academic freedom. “While the growth of antisemitism is a severe threat, it can and should be addressed under existing civil rights laws as religious or race discrimination,” the statement reads. “These new laws, however, expand the definition of antisemitism to encompass political speech.” Such overbroad definitions, as in a 2019 Florida law, “constitute a state-imposed orthodoxy that prohibits or discourages faculty members and students from engaging in academic work that may question the state’s positions on Israel or Zionism.” Similarly, legislative restrictions on curriculum about race and racism in the US constitute political interference designed to curb critical analysis and free inquiry about the history and nature of systemic racism.

The AAUP urges the defeat of these legislative initiatives and others like them in order to protect the academic freedom that is vital to the preservation of democracy.

The full statement: Legislative Threats to Academic Freedom: Redefinitions of Antisemitism and Racism, can be found here.

In solidarity,
Charles Toombs, San Diego State University
Chair of AAUP’s committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (Committee A)


podcast@aaup (2022 ep1): Student Debt and the Fight for Florida

In our first new episode of 2022, I talk to Kaitlyn Vitez, federal government relations specialist in AAUP’s national office, and Jessica Sponsler, art historian and adjunct professor and AAUP’s Pennsylvania state conference president, about student debt and its impact on faculty and higher education. With more than 45 million borrowers saddled with $1.7 trillion dollars in debt, a movement to cancel debt and expand opportunities for debt forgiveness is underway as the return to repayment of federal loans, paused during the pandemic, looms in May. Listen here.

In episode five of our inaugural season, I sit down with Paul Ortiz, professor of history at the University of Florida and president of the United Faculty of Florida-UF to talk about ongoing attacks on academic freedom in Florida and how the faculty from the University of Florida has fought back against what Paul calls “anticipatory obedience,” awakening a growing movement of faculty who are ready to, as he puts it “get their hands dirty” and fight political and legislative attempts to diminish faculty right and chill academic freedom. Here’s the episode.

We stay in Florida for the sixth episode. The AAUP’s Kelly Benjamin talks to Michele Rayner, a member of the Florida House of Representatives, about attacks on academic freedom, the motivation for anti-critical race theory bills, and the state of the broader political situation in Florida. Play that episode here.

The episodes are on the AAUP website at aaup.org/aaup-presents, where you’ll find links to listen to them on major platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. We plan to release more episodes this spring. Have an idea for an episode? Email me at mquinn@aaup.org with your suggestions.

Happy listening.

Mariah Quinn
Digital Organizer, AAUP

Episode logo in a graphic