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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


Statement on Protests in Response to the Murder of George Floyd

The murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis has unleashed a massive protest movement across the country. These protests, led by young people, are revealing years of pent-up frustration with racism and inequality. The militarization of policing in the United States and the unchecked violence perpetrated against communities of color by police who continue to act with seeming impunity, along with the promotion of white supremacy by the Trump administration, had created a combustible mix even before the COVID-19 pandemic added to an existing medical crisis and economic desperation, especially in marginalized communities of color.

Many have said that we need to have a conversation about racism and inequality. But a conversation is not enough. What we need is bold action to deal with institutional racism and inequality. While the lack of meaningful preparation for the pandemic has disrupted the lives of all Americans, the more long-standing lack of a meaningful response to endemic racism and inequality has compounded the impact of the pandemic on communities of color.

Clearly, looting and the destruction of property need to be condemned. But we also need to condemn the fact that only one of the four police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd has been arrested and recognize that Floyd’s death is just one more example of the senseless loss of an African American life at the hands of police. The actions of police across the country are enabled by political leaders who have failed to deal with institutional racism and inequality, and they also must be held accountable.

The AAUP supports the right of all citizens to engage in peaceful protests and calls for an end to police violence against protesters. We also recognize that our institutions of higher education have been part of the problem, but they can be part of the solution by marshaling the expertise of faculty and the energy of students in developing meaningful approaches to mitigating racism and inequality in our society.


May 14 COVID-19 Update

As summer approaches, we continue to develop guidance and plan webinars to help us organize and respond to the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance on Reopening Campuses

The decision to reopen a campus raises not only logistical and health and safety concerns but also concerns about how best to achieve the academic mission both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath. The AAUP has developed guidance on reopening campuses for our chapters, faculty governing bodies, and administrations. As with all the AAUP’s resources related to COVID-19, we will continue to update this guidance as new information becomes available.

Financial Crisis FAQs

Colleges and universities are facing challenging financial situations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. In some cases, particularly those in which ongoing financial problems have threatened institutions’ survival, the challenges are extraordinary. To assist members of the academy in addressing the challenges faced in times of financial stress, the AAUP has updated our web page with FAQs on financial crisis in order to help our chapters, our members, and the profession as a whole navigate this crisis.

International Student Visas

The AAUP has signed on to a letter sent by the American Council of Education and sixty-two other associations to the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of State in regard to international students. The letter from the associations outlines the role international students play in the US economy and their contributions to education and research, as well as some of the issues these students and colleges and universities will likely be facing in the fall. The groups urged the Secretary of State to prioritize applications for student visas once the consulates reopen. They also requested that the State Department and DHS extend regulatory flexibility for international students to begin their studies online if campuses are unable to open in the fall or student visas are delayed.

Rescind Proposed Rules for Distance Education

The AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers have submitted joint comments urging the Department of Education to rescind proposed rules for distance education. The comments emphasize that the rules would weaken the interaction between students and faculty members—the key relationship in higher education—and would allow increased outsourcing of core educational responsibilities. Read more here.

Support Faculty at Rutgers University Biomedical and Health Sciences

Clinical faculty in the AAUP-BHSNJ chapter need your support for their petition to win a fair contract after two years of bargaining. These members’ work on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, including work on developing a COVID-19 saliva test, is a real-life example of higher education for the common good. While Rutgers University’s president praises them as “heroes,” his negotiators take a hard line in bargaining by looking at layoffs and ways to de-tenure faculty. AAUP-BHSNJ hopes to revamp health and safety measures, clarify the role of family leave, and reduce gender pay inequity. Add your name.

Send a Letter to Your Member of Congress

Many of our states and communities face 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. On Tuesday, we sent a message from AAUP president Rudy FIchtenbaum asking you 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 more updates in two weeks.

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP


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