Application forms, below:

Hamline University administration violated faculty member’s academic freedom

An AAUP report released today concludes that the administration of Hamline University violated the academic freedom of Professor Erika López Prater after a student complained of having been offended by her presentation of two images of the Prophet Muhammad during an online session of her art history class in October. An AAUP committee of inquiry found that Professor López Prater’s decision to display the historical images was not only justifiable and appropriate on both scholarly and pedagogical grounds but also protected by academic freedom.

Read the full report.

Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that the Hamline administration rescinded its informal offer to assign Professor López Prater another course the following semester solely because she had displayed the images, thus violating her academic freedom as a teacher. Two weeks prior to the class meeting in question, the department chair had written, “My students in your class have said nothing but wonderful things, so we would really love to have you back in the Spring!” After the class meeting and subsequent complaint, the chair withdrew the offer and a Hamline administrator emailed all university employees calling Professor López Prater’s presentation of the images “inconsiderate, disrespectful, and Islamophobic.” In an interview with the student newspaper while the university was still in session and Professor López Prater was still teaching, the same administrator stated, “In [view] of this incident, it was decided it was best that this faculty member was no longer part of the Hamline community.”

Neither the administration nor Professor López Prater’s department chair provided a legitimate academic rationale for declining to offer her any further teaching assignments. Hamline’s administration also failed to initiate any formal or substantial investigation of the student complaint; nor did it afford Professor López Prater a meaningful opportunity to respond to the accusations made against her.

The AAUP will continue to closely monitor developments related to academic freedom at Hamline University, among the most welcome of which would be a renewed offer of a teaching appointment to Professor López Prater.

An Ideologically Driven Assault Unparalleled in US History

Earlier this year, the AAUP invited us to chair a special committee established to review the apparent pattern of politically, racially, and ideologically motivated attacks on public higher education in Florida. Today, after interviewing dozens of faculty members at multiple public colleges and universities in the state, the committee has released a preliminary report concluding that academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance in Florida’s public colleges and universities currently face a politically and ideologically driven assault unparalleled in US history. If sustained, this onslaught threatens the very survival of meaningful higher education in the state, with dire implications for the entire country.

See the full report.

The report includes four main findings:

  • The Florida governor and state legislature are using their swift, aggressive, and ongoing “hostile takeover” of New College of Florida as a test case for future encroachments on public colleges and universities across the country. This “takeover” has proceeded through Governor DeSantis’s appointment of a slate of six highly partisan trustees, five of whom live outside the state and are publicly known as right-wing activists, to New College’s board of trustees. Their goals are to transform New College into a flagship right-wing institution by restructuring the administration and academic departments, developing a “new core curriculum,” and eliminating all diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
  • Academic administrators throughout Florida’s public university and college systems, from the highest to the lowest levels not only have failed to contest these attacks but have too frequently been complicit in and, in some cases, explicitly supported them. While some individuals are leaving as a matter of conscience, those who remain face the prospect of serving as pawns in DeSantis’s corrupt patronage system.
  • The Florida legislature has passed a series of bills that, taken collectively, constitute a systematic effort to dictate and enforce conformity with a narrow and reactionary political and ideological agenda throughout the state’s higher education system. These efforts grievously undermine basic and long-standing principles of academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance. A key component of this agenda has been an effort to destroy college and university programs that serve minority communities and to banish from classrooms ideas and information about race, gender, and sexual identity that fail to conform to the prejudices of politicians.
  • Although several pieces of legislation proposed by the DeSantis administration have been stalled by legal challenges, the resulting self-censorship and fear are damaging the quality of public higher education in the state and are now spilling over into private institutions in Florida.

The committee is continuing its work, interviewing faculty members and others, as events in Florida continue to unfold. This preliminary report will be followed by a more comprehensive final report, expected by fall.

The full preliminary report from the AAUP special committee on Florida can be found here.

Afshan Jafar and Hank Reichman
Cochairs, AAUP Special Committee

Fall of the Giants

AAUP News Update

Attacks on academia are at a fever pitch as multiple state legislatures churn out dangerous culture war bills aimed at destroying various aspects of our higher education system, and ultimately damage our democracy. These threats are among the worst in the 108-year history of the AAUP. The press clips below only begin to document a month’s worth of news on this crisis and the stories of faculty fighting back—on campus, at state capitols, and in our communities nationwide.

We’ve seen times like this before, and they tend to directly precede periods of great progress. The robust organizing movement we are building in American higher education is a clear signal of a way forward.

Please browse the clips below on the great work being done by your colleagues and comrades nationwide to defend academic freedom and shared governance in the workplace and build a strong labor movement that is transforming higher education. If you’re on Twitter, please retweet the links in parentheses. As always, to stay up to date on all our work, follow the AAUP on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

AAUP Top Clips:



New Jersey:

North Carolina:




In Solidarity,

Kelly Benjamin
AAUP Media and Communications

AAUP Report: Shared Governance and Academic Freedom at Collin College are ‘Grossly Inadequate’

Today, the AAUP published an investigative report concerning the Collin College administration’s summary termination of the services of professors Lora Burnett, Suzanne Jones, and Michael Phillips.

Professor Burnett became the subject of national controversy in October 2020 for her tweets about the US vice-presidential debate, including one that urged Vice President Mike Pence to “shut his little demon mouth.” A state representative texted Collin’s president to point out that Burnett was “paid with taxpayer dollars”; the president replied that he was “aware of the situation” and “would deal with it.” In denying her reappointment for the following year, the administration cited her “insubordinate” challenging of the administration and governing board on social media and institutional email lists during that controversy.

In acting against Professors Jones and Phillips, the administration charged them with using social media to exert “external pressure” on the administration regarding what many faculty members considered to be inadequate COVID-19 policies instead of using “internal communications processes.” The administration’s action against Jones also invoked “misuse of the college’s name” because she had failed to prevent the Texas Faculty Association, of which she was a statewide and chapter officer, from listing her as a Collin College faculty member on its website and Facebook page.

The investigating committee found that the Collin administration’s actions involved “egregious violations” of all three faculty members’ academic freedom to speak as citizens and to criticize institutional policies, and, in the case of Phillips, of academic freedom in teaching. The committee determined that the administration dismissed Jones and Phillips from their appointments without a pretermination hearing before an elected faculty body in which the burden of demonstrating adequate cause for dismissal rests with the administration. The committee also found that the administration failed to afford Burnett the opportunity to petition an elected faculty committee to review her allegation that the nonrenewal decision violated her academic freedom.

The report concludes that the conditions for shared governance and academic freedom at Collin College are “grossly inadequate.”

The full report is available here.

Mark Criley,
Senior Program Officer, AAUP Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance

Drastic Attacks on Higher Ed in Florida

The headlines out of Florida keep getting worse and worse. Over the past year, Governor Ron DeSantis has waged an all-out attack on higher education and sought to suppress teaching about race and gender. He’s also gearing up to attack union rights in the state. What all these things have in common is that they infringe on the rights of people in the state to teach, learn, speak, and assemble freely.

Here are just a few developments from the last year:

  • The Stop WOKE Act restricts the way that race-related concepts can be taught in classrooms and workplace trainings in the state (enforcement of parts of the law is currently suspended after a judge found them to violate the First Amendment).
  • Confusing guidelines for teaching K-12 students about gender identity and sexual orientation combined with harsh penalties have led to the removal of books from libraries and classrooms.
  • DeSantis has promised to require college and university presidents and boards of trustees to “take ownership of hiring and retention decisions, without interference from unions and faculty committees.”
  • House Bill 999 would allow political appointees to control core curricula and institutional mission statements. It would ban gender studies as a major or minor, and prohibit the inclusion of “unproven, theoretical, or exploratory content” in general education courses (presumably including all scientific theories). It would also require boards of trustees or presidents to conduct faculty hiring, and allow boards to “review any faculty member’s tenure status,” apparently with or without cause—a change that would effectively eliminate tenure.

Enormous damage is being done to freedom and education in Florida, and it won’t stop there. Politicians in other states are preparing to follow DeSantis’s lead, and all signs point to a presidential run—with the slogan “Make America Florida.”

Our students deserve quality education that includes difficult truths and many perspectives. The AAUP is working with our allies to defend higher education. We hope you will be an active part of that effort.

If you haven’t already, please join fellow AAUP members and a number of organizational endorsers and sign your name to our statement on Florida HB 999. Signing will put you on a list to receive occasional alerts about actions you can take.

You can find more information and resources on our website.

In solidarity,