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


Working With the Faculty Senate to Fight Educational Gag Orders

State legislatures across the nation have passed legislation barring the teaching of “divisive concepts.” In some states, this legislation excludes teaching about race and gender at the university level. Faculty senates at Michigan State, Portland State, DePaul University, Molloy College, and the Universities of Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregon have all passed resolutions defending academic freedom and rejecting such educational gag orders.

We’re pleased to offer a webinar on faculty senate resolutions on behalf of our coalition partners at the African American Policy Forum. Please join in a discussion on Thursday, February 17, at 1 p.m. ET, about the importance of these resolutions to the preservation of education and why institutions of higher education need to commit to ideologically free classrooms.

Two members of the African American Policy Forum, DePaul University professor Valerie Johnson and Portland State professor Jennifer Ruth (who also serves on the AAUP’s Committee A), will lead the webinar and answer questions about how to use shared governance to fight back against this assault on academic freedom. Resources to pursue the resolution campaign on your campus will be provided.

Register at https://www.aaup.org/event/webinar-using-faculty-senate-fight-educational-gag-orders.

Best wishes,
Gwendolyn Bradley, AAUP Senior Program Officer