AAUP@FHSU


Pacific Lutheran University Dismissed Long-Serving Faculty Member in Violation of AAUP Principles

An AAUP report found that Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) acted in violation of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure when it summarily dismissed Jane Harty, a part-time faculty member with forty years of service in the Department of Music at PLU, in 2018. The dismissal hearing held by the university for Harty was described as a “sham exercise” in the AAUP report.

The AAUP concluded that the relatively minor nature of the misconduct in which Harty was alleged to have engaged and the summary nature of the administrative action taken suggest her dismissal may have stemmed from the administration’s long-standing displeasure with her advocacy for the rights of faculty members on contingent appointments.

Join us for a Facebook Live with AAUP senior program officer Hans-Joerg Tiede on Thursday, January 23, at 3 p.m. ET for a brief overview of the report. RSVP here.

Beginning in 2012, PLU was the site of an academic labor dispute when the Service Employees International Union attempted to organize the contingent faculty at the institution. The administration opposed this effort, based on PLU’s religious affiliation and on the claim that full-time contingent faculty members are managerial employees. Harty coauthored a report on a survey of the contingent faculty at the institution undertaken on behalf of the local AAUP chapter and led the organizing effort among the contingent faculty. Following the conclusion of an unsuccessful organizing campaign, Harty continued to engage in activism on behalf of the non-tenure-track faculty on campus, which brought her into conflict with the administration.

As the report details, in November 2018, Harty was summarily suspended from her teaching responsibilities without a dismissal hearing for allegedly violating a directive that prohibited faculty members from accepting payment from PLU students for private music lessons given independently of the university. Following lengthy correspondence between the AAUP’s staff and the administration, in which the administration’s representatives repeatedly shifted their characterization of the action against her, the PLU administration agreed to afford Harty a faculty dismissal hearing, as stipulated under AAUP-recommended standards.

At the hearing, which was attended by an AAUP observer representing the AAUP’s national office, the administration took the position that it was not actually dismissing the faculty member, and the faculty hearing body did not therefore determine whether the charges warranted dismissal. In effect, the procedure was a dismissal hearing in name only.

Read the full report here.

The AAUP


Protecting Organizing Rights for Faculty at Religious Institutions

The AAUP filed an amicus brief yesterday in support of Duquesne University faculty who have voted to form a union. The case, Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit v. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is currently before the federal court of appeals in DC.

The brief explains that academic freedom is essential to higher education and that the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, jointly formulated by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (and endorsed by more than 250 higher education institutions) is its bedrock. Most religiously affiliated institutions recognize the need for unencumbered academic freedom for faculty. The statement establishes that in those instances in which a university seeks to impose a religiously based limitation on academic freedom it must do so in a way that is clear to faculty members, prospective faculty members, students, and the public.

The NLRB established an analogous principle in its 2015 decision in the Pacific Lutheran University case, which found that unless a religious institution has held out faculty as performing a specific religious function, faculty have a right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act.

Based on this precedent and supported by the widely accepted tenets of the 1940 Statement, we argue that an institution’s failure to articulate a religious function for its faculty in advance of an appointment means that it is subject to NLRB jurisdiction, and the faculty should have a right to organize.

The case started in 2012 when adjunct faculty in the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne sought to form a union affiliated with the United Steelworkers. The Duquesne administration fought at every step, but the faculty voted overwhelmingly to unionize. Duquesne refused to recognize the faculty vote and to bargain with the union and ultimately appealed to federal court. In doing so, it is seeking to overturn the Pacific Lutheran University case. Thus, the ruling in this case could impact not just the faculty at Duquesne, but faculty at many of the nearly 1,000 religiously affiliated institutions in the United States.

We’ll keep you posted on developments in the case. To read the brief, go to this link.

Aaron Nisenson
Senior Counsel, AAUP

P.S. Help support the AAUP’s legal work. Donate to the AAUP Foundation’s Legal Defense Fund.