AAUP@FHSU


August COVID-19 Update

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Here’s a round-up of some of our latest work that touches on the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you are staying safe and well in these trying times.

Medical Faculty Solidarity Letter

AAUP president Irene Mulvey saluted the work of AAUP clinical, medical research, nursing, and health professions faculty. The statement of solidarity provides guidance for all chapters and members on how they can support such faculty going forward. Read more here.

Recommendations of the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession

The AAUP’s Committee on Contingency and the Profession provided recommendations to the higher education community about how to address the unique challenges contingent faculty face during the pandemic. These recommendations are followed by resources that can help chapters fighting for contingent faculty to get paid sick leave, to increase their job security in the fall, to apply for unemployment benefits, to retain their intellectual property rights after the emergency transition to remote instruction, to protect their academic freedom, and to gain better access to shared governance structures. Read more here.

AAUP Masks

New swag for new times: our online store will be offering non-medical-grade masks starting next week. There will be six different versions, including ones with the AAUP logo and another that says, “You can’t silence academic freedom.” We’ll share the link to the masks in the next update. In the meantime, you can check out other items in our store.

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AAUP Joins Amicus Brief Opposing DHS Directive

The AAUP joined over seventy other higher education organizations in submitting an amicus brief, prepared by the American Council on Education, in support of a successful legal challenge filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the US Department of Homeland Security in the US District Court in Massachusetts. The challenge sought to prevent DHS’s July 6 directive, which rescinded a prior COVID-19 exemption for international students participating in online education, from taking effect so that thousands of international students couldn’t continue to participate in educational opportunities in the United States, even if their course of study is online. Read more here.

Virtual Summer Institute

The AAUP Summer Institute was virtual this year. Our ninety-minute sessions covered a wide range of topics, from campus decisions about reopening to supporting student protests to pushing back against austerity budgets. A special plenary panel highlighted the experiences of frontline health-care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can watch recordings of the sessions here.

Academe and Academe Blog

Last month, Academe published several new online articles addressing the COVID-19 crisis in higher education, and Academe Blog continues to highlight faculty perspectives on the pandemic in blog posts about academic governance during a financial crisis, mask mandates, remote teaching, and other topics.

We’ll be in touch with another COVID-19 update in September.

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP


AAUP Stands in Solidarity with Medical Faculty

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all—as teachers, as researchers, as workers, and as individuals. But one thing remains constant: the public good that higher education faculty provide.

AAUP clinical, medical research, nursing, and health professions faculty, along with staff and students, have been saving lives under extraordinary circumstances. Their work comes at great personal risk to themselves. Often, clinical faculty must live apart from their families to keep them safe while they treat COVID-19 patients at teaching hospitals. Other medical faculty help the public understand the public health implications of policy decisions and provide advice that informs the reopening plans at our institutions. Medical researchers devise new treatments and tests. Faculty shape the next generation of medical professionals through their teaching and mentoring. Academic medicine is a public good, now more than ever.

The American Association of University Professors Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey union represents about 1,500 faculty doing this essential work. Faculty work with the state as epidemiologists, build personal protective equipment (PPE) with 3D printers, and care for patients. Members of this unit developed the first at-home saliva test for COVID-19, which received an emergency use authorization from the FDA. This test is less invasive, and it reduces exposure to the virus, saves PPE for uses other than testing, and delivers results more quickly than other tests.

Nearly five hundred AAUP members work at the University of Connecticut Health Center. They too treat, teach, and research. Members at UCHC-AAUP and at the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut have formed a joint group of doctors, engineers, scientists, and others to develop PPE together. Their project is producing mask frames, face shields, swabs, and even ventilators by using 3D printers at institutions and in their communities.

We stand in solidarity with those who are saving lives through their expertise, knowledge, and care during this pandemic. To our members who are treating patients and doing vital research—and to those who are educating students, administrators, and the public about COVID-19—please know that we stand with you and that we thank you for your work.

How can you help?

If you are near Farmington, CT, and have use of a 3D printer or ideas for mask donation and acquisition, please contact the team at covid19donations@uchc.edu. Or you can work with your chapter leadership to set up a local mask donation team for an area institution in need of supplies. You can email a simple message of support to leaders and staff at UCHC-AAUPAAUP-Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey, and Wayne State University AAUP-AFT to boost their spirits. And do the same for clinical, medical research, nursing, and health professions faculty and staff at your institution.

Irene Mulvey
President, AAUP


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

Getty Images


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