AAUP@FHSU


Demand Support for Public Higher Education

Over the past two months, it has become clear that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our states, our communities, and our campuses will be profound. As states grapple with the cost of fighting the pandemic, we are seeing significant cuts in state funding for higher education. In many states, these cuts come on the heels of decades of austerity measures that have already eroded our institutions’ academic missions and our ability to truly serve the common good. We have seen boards and administrations seize upon this crisis to subvert faculty involvement in decision-making and institute sweeping changes, such as academic restructuring, program discontinuance, and layoffs of faculty and staff at campuses in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arkansas, to name a few.

When I wrote you on March 10, when the threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus in the United States was becoming apparent, I stated, “It is hard to know what the ultimate impact of COVID-19 will be on our campuses. The administration should provide the appropriate faculty body—the union or the governance body—with information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on enrollments, revenues, and hiring and renewals.” We must hold our governing boards and administrations to this standard as our campuses face very challenging financial choices. I urge you and your colleagues to work through your AAUP chapter, your governance body, and—where applicable—your faculty union to demand full transparency and full faculty involvement. I also urge you to stand in solidarity with faculty colleagues in contingent positions, graduate employees, and campus staff, many of whom are facing reduced appointments or layoffs.

We must also communicate with our elected representatives in Congress and call on them to support higher education and other vital public services. Many of our states and communities face serious financial shortfalls as a result of the 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. Please 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.

The AAUP will continue to defend our members, our chapters, and the profession and will continue to provide webinars and guidance on all aspects of this crisis. We ask that chapters continue to share information with us about what is being done on their campuses and what the chapter or faculty senate’s role has been in decision-making related to COVID-19.

In solidarity,
Rudy Fichtenbaum
AAUP President


AAUP Stands In Solidarity with Essential Workers of All Kinds

We all have been touched by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Our system of higher education has been upended in the course of only a few weeks. AAUP members in medical school and health center chapters and other faculty members supporting their efforts are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. We and our students, colleagues, and family members have faced the sudden and profound loss of what we knew as “normal” and have experienced or live in fear of sickness and unemployment. We might remember “before” as imperfect but reassuringly familiar or predictable. Amid so much uncertainty, the path to “after” remains unclear and daunting.

But there have been glimmers of hope—signs that what lies ahead could be a great moment of solidarity, of workers fighting together to create a system in which higher wages and health and safety protections are not just emergency provisions for a pandemic but part of a new normal. A time when hazard pay becomes a living wage. A country where free access to coronavirus testing leads to accessible, affordable health care for everyone.

Add your name to this solidarity statement.

All across this country, and in spite of difficult conditions, workers from a diverse group of backgrounds—supermarket employees, gig and delivery workers, Amazon employees, nurses, doctors—are joining together to demand a better, safer, fairer system. We know it takes great courage to organize under even the best conditions. To do it in these uncertain times shows a clarity of purpose and a knowledge: if we fight together, we can win a better system together.

The AAUP will continue to share resources and help the profession prepare for what comes next. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to fight for academic freedom, for the faculty role in decision-making, for economic security for our profession, and for our rights to protect the knowledge we create.

As we do that, we stand in solidarity with those who are at the front lines of this pandemic. To our members who are working in hospitals and in health care, to transit and postal workers, to the Instacart and Amazon workers who are demanding safer working conditions and wages as they risk their health to serve customers, to everyone working in stores and in other essential services, to all those who do not have the luxury to stay at home, know this: you are leading the way, and we are with you.

Send a message of support. Add your name in solidarity.

Rudy Fichtenbaum
President, AAUP


COVID-19 Update: New FAQ on Principles for Crisis and more

We hope you are staying safe in this time of crisis. We plan on sending these updates on a biweekly basis.


Covid-19 graphic

New FAQs on AAUP Principles and Standards for the COVID-19 Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has posed serious challenges for faculty members and their institutions. While its scope and severity is unprecedented in recent memory, this crisis is not the first that the Association has had to address in its 105 years. As the authors of the AAUP’s 2007 report on mass terminations at five New Orleans universities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina pointed out, “Relevant AAUP-supported policies . . . are sufficiently broad and flexible to accommodate even the inconceivable disaster.” The AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance has developed guidance derived from AAUP policy documents for faculty members as they assert their proper role in institutional governance during this challenging time.

The FAQ can be found here.


Donating Personal Protective Equipment

We encourage faculty to donate personal protective equipment (PPE) from idle labs. Some AAUP members are on the front lines of fighting the pandemic; affiliated chapters accepting donations include AAUP medical school and health center members at University of Connecticut Health Center (donate here), the Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey (donate here), and Wayne State University, where you can donate by sending or dropping PPEs to Wayne State/Detroit Medical Center: Harper University Loading Dock, 3990 John R Street, Detroit, MI 48201. You may also make donations by reaching out to your local or state emergency operations center.


Statement on Equity and Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We have added Tenure for the Common Good’s “Statement on Equity and COVID-19” to our AAUP coronavirus resources page. This statement includes recommendations on equity of resources, assistance, and protections against financial and professional damage for faculty in contingent positions and graduate student employees. Here’s the direct link to the statement.


AAUP Facebook Group for Discussions of COVID-19

To facilitate wider discussion of the rapidly changing landscape of higher education during the current crisis, we’ve created a Facebook group where members can discuss questions, plans, and tactics with a group of their peers.

Click here to join the group.


Until next time.  Remember to check our Facebook page and our COVID-19 resource page for updates.

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP


COVID-19 and AAUP principles

Like the rest of society, higher education continues to be shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us have already been required to move courses online, often abruptly and without adequate institutional support. Labs are being shuttered and research projects curtailed, and what we had initially hoped would be only a brief disruption is now likely to continue through the remainder of this academic year. Many members of our campus communities—including graduate student workers, support staff, students, and all categories of faculty—are faced with uncertainty around employment status, health benefits, and paid leave.

The AAUP has put together a coronavirus information web page for AAUP members and the higher education community. We have been collecting resources from the government, other higher education organizations, and our chapters to help all of us respond to this challenge. We will continue to add to the page as new resources become available.

As many of you know, some administrations have been leaving the faculty out of decisions pertaining to curriculum and program, online teaching and intellectual property, and the faculty role in navigating the financial impact of COVID-19 on our campuses. Faculty governance bodies and academic unions must insist on involvement in decision-making about the effects that this crisis is having on our campuses, and we will be sharing guidance from the national AAUP, as well as strategies some of our chapters have developed as they grapple with the crisis.

Finally, the AAUP is setting up a Facebook page for members to connect, share information and strategies, and support one another during this unprecedented situation. We will be posting information about this resource in the next few days.

These are trying times for our students, our profession, and our nation. But even as we respond to the immediate needs of our students and families, we must also be diligent in defending the AAUP’s core principles of academic freedom, due process, and the faculty voice in decision-making on our campuses. If we do not defend those principles, we run the real risk that college and university administrations will use this emergency to reshape higher education, serving an agenda that is too often influenced by corporate interests rather than by a commitment to the common good. Please check out our coronavirus information page for a statement on COVID-19 and the faculty role in decision-makingAFT and AAUP principles for higher education’s response to COVID-19, and other resources already available for responding to any administration overreach you may be experiencing.

We ask that you continue to share information with us about what is being done on your campus to support faculty and students during this crisis and, especially, what your chapter or faculty senate’s role has been during this process.

We have survived and grown stronger in times of crisis before, and, working together, we will do so now.

In solidarity,
Rudy Fichtenbaum
AAUP President


COVID-19 and the faculty role in decision-making

As we are learning, COVID-19 (the coronavirus) has the potential to present a serious challenge to the health and safety of our campus communities. At this time, campuses in Washington State, New York State, California, Nebraska, and elsewhere have closed or moved to all-online teaching, and a number of study-abroad programs have been cut short or suspended altogether.

Administrations are taking the potential health impact of the virus seriously, and we applaud their efforts to do so. The safety of the students, the staff, and the faculty should be everyone’s primary concern. We are hearing from AAUP members, however, that decisions to close campuses or to move to an all-online model for the short term are being made without adequate faculty involvement in decision-making. The AAUP’s 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities makes clear that “the faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction . . . and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.”

In certain situations, it is necessary to close a campus or move to online instruction to safeguard the health of the campus community. Faculty and academic staff—through their shared governance bodies or, when applicable, their unions—should be consulted on how best to implement this decision. In order to ensure full participation, administrations should share information with faculty and seek input from the appropriate faculty bodies. In cases where the institution is moving to an all-online model to avoid virus transmission on campus, it is incumbent on administrations to provide all instructional faculty with the appropriate software and training. Administrations should also consider the needs and limitations of students, who may lack access to the internet or face other obstacles to completing their coursework remotely.

It is hard to know what the ultimate impact of COVID-19 will be on our campuses. The administration should provide the appropriate faculty body—the union or the governance body—with information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on enrollments, revenues, and hiring and renewals. In the spirit of the AAUP’s One Faculty campaign, we encourage our chapters to be especially sensitive to how these closures and any future curtailment of programs could affect our colleagues on full-time non-tenure-track or part-time contingent appointments.

The AAUP has developed a web page with resources on COVID-19. We will continue to update this page as new resources become available. We also ask that chapters share information with us about what is being done on their campus and what the chapter or faculty senate’s role has been in decision-making around campus closures and the implementation of all-online teaching.

In solidarity,

Rudy Fichtenbaum
AAUP President