AAUP@FHSU


Prevalence of AAUP Policies in Higher Ed

The AAUP released today a new research report, Policies on Academic Freedom, Dismissal for Cause, Financial Exigency, and Program Discontinuance, that examines the prevalence of AAUP-supported policies in faculty handbooks and collective bargaining agreements at four-year institutions that have a tenure system. The analysis replicates a study conducted in 2000 and tracks changes that have occurred since that time. It finds that many AAUP-supported procedural standards are widely prevalent, but it also finds reason for concern, especially with respect to policies on financial exigency, which have recently received renewed attention at many institutions of higher education because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Academic Freedom
The report finds that the AAUP language on academic freedom is widely adopted. The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, formulated jointly by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and endorsed by more than 250 disciplinary societies and educational associations, serves as the primary source for academic freedom language in institutional regulations. Seventy-three percent of four-year institutions with a tenure system base their academic freedom policy directly on the 1940 Statement, and more than half cite the AAUP specifically as the source. Only 3 percent of institutions have no academic freedom statement, and 24 percent of institutions have an academic freedom statement not based on AAUP language.

Financial Exigency
Overall, the study found that 95 percent of four-year institutions with a tenure system have financial exigency policies that allow for the termination of appointments. A central question is if and how the conditions that allow such terminations to occur are defined. The study found that 55 percent of institutions do not define those conditions and simply state that appointments can be terminated for “financial exigency,” “fiscal emergency,” or similar conditions. That percentage has decreased since 2000, when it was 69 percent. The AAUP provides a definition of “financial exigency” in its Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure. That definition can be found in 13 percent of handbooks and contracts, up from 8 percent in 2000. Other definitions that often provide less protection than the definition provided by the AAUP can be found at 33 percent of institutions, which represents an increase of 10 percentage points since 2000.

Policies on terminations of appointments because of financial exigency also need to include procedural safeguards, such as requirements that the administration seek another suitable position for affected faculty members and, failing that, that affected faculty members receive timely notice of the termination or severance pay. Other safeguards include the requirement that the faculty, through an appropriate faculty body, such as a senate or union, participate in the decision to declare a financial exigency and identify faculty appointments to terminate. The prevalence of such procedural safeguards has increased since 2000, with specific provisions concerning the role of the faculty increasing the most, from 50 percent to 66 percent. The prevalence of each of these procedural elements at institutions at which the faculty engage in collective bargaining is higher than at institutions without faculty unions.

Read the full report here.

Hans-Joerg Tiede
Senior Program Officer and Researcher


AAUP Opposes DHS Ban on International Students

Last week, the higher education community reeled from the shock of a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ruling that bars international students from being in the United States if they are enrolled in institutions that will only offer online instruction this fall. This news came at a time when many colleges and universities had already made announcements about the new academic year, which meant that plans for remote learning made with public health in mind would have the unintended effect of excluding international students.

Yesterday, the AAUP released a statement about the ruling. It begins,

The Department of Homeland Security’s July 6 ruling regarding international students and the upcoming 2020–21 academic year is but the latest example of the Trump administration’s callous cruelty, especially toward immigrants and those it deems “other.” The American Association of University Professors thus joins many other higher education organizations and colleagues in the labor movement in calling on the administration to allow all international students to obtain or retain visas to continue their education at US institutions, regardless of whether they participate remotely, in person, or through a hybrid model and regardless of whether they are studying inside or outside the United States, during this unprecedented global health crisis.

Read the full statement.

The AAUP also joined over seventy other higher education organizations yesterday in submitting an amicus brief, prepared by the American Council on Education (ACE), in support of a legal challenge filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the DHS in the US District Court in Massachusetts. The challenge seeks to prevent the DHS directive from taking effect so that thousands of international students can continue to participate in educational opportunities in the United States, even if their course of study is online. The amicus brief notes that “with the stroke of a pen, the global standing of our nation and its preeminent higher educational system will needlessly suffer again from exclusionary policies that—contrary to long-held national values of openness and interconnection—single out international students and arbitrarily threaten their eligibility to collaborate, learn, and share their many talents at American colleges and universities.” You can find the amicus brief and a summary here.
On Friday the AAUP, along with dozens of other higher education organizations, signed on to a letter from ACE president Ted Mitchell to Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The letter states, “We urge the administration to rethink its position and offer international students and institutions the flexibility necessary to safely navigate resuming their educational activities in the midst of this crisis in ways that take into account the health and safety of our students and staff in the upcoming academic year.” Read the full letter.

The national AAUP will continue to work with other higher education organizations, our organizing partner AFT, and our chapters and state conferences to ensure that campuses can move forward in the fall with reopening plans that are safe for and inclusive of all members of the higher education community.

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director

P.S. On Friday we also released early an article from the upcoming Journal of Academic Freedom with a pertinent analysis of how US immigration laws influence campus and impose enforcement roles on colleges and universities. Read Abigail Boggs’s “On Borders and Academic Freedom: Noncitizen Students and the Limits of Rights.”

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July 9 COVID-19 Update

This week marked the kickoff of our Summer Institute Online, with webinars focusing on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you join! Read on for more on SI Online, our new statement on shared governance during times of crisis, and how you can take action now to urge Congress to fund aid to states and higher education.

Summer Institute Online

The AAUP Summer Institute Online is now underway. Join hundreds of AAUP members from around the country in our special series of training webinars focused specifically on the challenges facing higher education today. Running through August 4, the virtual summer institute features two webinars each week. Our 90-minute sessions will cover a wide range of topics, from campus decisions about reopening to supporting student protests to pushing back against austerity budgets. In addition, hour-long breakout sessions after the governance and organizing webinars will provide a special opportunity for smaller groups of attendees to brainstorm about how to apply the guidance to their chapter’s circumstances. There is also a special plenary panel that will highlight the experiences of frontline health-care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can view the complete schedule and register for these webinars today.

Principles of Academic Governance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The AAUP Committee on College and University Governance has released a new statement affirming the principles of academic governance in the face of growing concern over unilateral actions taken by governing boards and administrations during the pandemic. “During this challenging time,” the statement reads, “the committee calls upon administrations and governing boards, in demonstrated commitment to principles of shared governance, to maintain transparency, engage in ‘joint effort,’ and honor the faculty’s decision-making responsibility for academic and faculty personnel matters as the most effective means of weathering the current crisis.”

You can read the full statement here.

Send a Letter to Your Member of Congress

Many of our states and communities continue to face mounting and very serious financial shortfalls as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability of states to provide adequate funding for higher education and other public goods will be dependent upon the inclusion of relief for state and local governments in the next federal stimulus package. If you haven’t already, you can to write to your US congressional representative and your senators and urge them to include relief for state and local governments in the next stimulus package. Here’s the link to send a letter now.

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

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP


Principles on Academic Governance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The AAUP Committee on College and University Governance has released a new statement affirming the principles of academic governance in the face of growing concern over unilateral actions taken by governing boards and administrations during the pandemic. “During this challenging time,” the statement reads, “the committee calls upon administrations and governing boards, in demonstrated commitment to principles of shared governance, to maintain transparency, engage in ‘joint effort,’ and honor the faculty’s decision-making responsibility for academic and faculty personnel matters as the most effective means of weathering the current crisis.”

For more context on the statement, join Michael DeCesare, chair of the AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance and professor of sociology at Merrimack College, for a brief Facebook livestream tomorrow, June 30th.

The stream will go live on our Facebook page (accessed through this link) at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. It will also be posted on our website with the statement after it concludes.

The statement stresses that the fundamental principles and standards of academic governance set forth in the AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities remain applicable even in the current crisis. It reinforces the key principle articulated in the Statement on Government, that the faculty has “primary responsibility” for decisions related to academic matters, including “curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.” It further notes that, “even in areas in which the faculty does not exercise primary authority—such as whether and how to reopen campus, budgetary matters, and long-range planning—the faculty still has the right, under widely observed principles of academic governance, to participate meaningfully. No important institutional decision should be made unilaterally by administrations or governing boards.” The statement also observes that administrations or governing boards should not “suspend provisions of faculty handbooks or collective bargaining agreements in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis by invoking ‘force majeure,’ ‘act of God,’ ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ or the like.”

To read the full statement, visit our website.

In solidarity,
The AAUP


AAUP issues statement on racial justice

As the ongoing demonstrations of the past few weeks have shown, our nation is once again being called on to reckon with systemic racism and its impact on Black, Latinx, indigenous, and other people of color. Black lives matter, and the AAUP stands in solidarity with all those who are protesting racism and police brutality. We stand ready to support faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education whose affiliated institutions take or threaten to take negative action against them as a result of their exercising their right to protest. We recognize that our BIPOC members and colleagues are considerably more vulnerable when they exercise this right, and, as such, are most in need of support and protection. We call on our chapters, our members, and campus administrations to stand firm in their support of members of the campus community who speak out in the name of anti-racism and racial justice, and we offer the following guidance and recommendations.

Freedom of extramural speech, including comments made by faculty outside the classroom and on social media, is essential to the American conception of academic freedom that the AAUP has played a central role in defining and refining. All members of the academic community have a responsibility to defend academic freedom and freedom of speech and assembly.

Calls for civility and campus speech codes have the potential to restrict extramural speech of faculty. These calls are often deployed against faculty of color, and faculty of color are more likely to be disciplined for “uncivil” behavior. As we recognize in our statement On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes, “offensive style or opprobrious phrases may in fact have been chosen precisely for their expressive power.” Faculty must not be disciplined for engaging in “uncivil” or “offensive” speech.

In the current political climate, faculty who engage in protest are more likely than ever to face targeted online harassment as a result of their activities—harassment that, again, disproportionately targets non-white faculty. Institutions must recommit to the defense of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, which includes protecting the institution from undue public interference. We call on administrations and governing boards, in particular, to condemn targeted harassment and intimidation and to reject calls for dismissal or suspension of faculty members who have exercised their right to protest.

We further recognize that in the current political climate, Black studies, Latinx studies, indigenous studies, and other ethnic studies programs are especially vulnerable to political interference, including cuts to funding and program elimination. Threats to these programs have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We call on our chapters, our members, and campus administrations to defend these programs from cuts and undue interference and to affirm the importance of programs that challenge systemic racism to fulfilling higher education’s fundamental contribution to the common good.

To access a digital version of the statement, visit our website.

Thank you,

The AAUP