AAUP@FHSU


AAUP Condemns UNC System, Addresses Censure at Two Other Institutions

The governing Council of the American Association of University Professors voted unanimously today to pass a joint resolution resoundingly condemning the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and System Office for multiple violations of widely accepted standards of shared governance and academic freedom and for a sustained climate of institutional racism.

The vote comes less than two months after the AAUP’s publication of a special committee report calling attention to the alarming trends in the UNC system perpetuated by increased political pressure and interference within the system. The resolution is a step forward in acknowledging and beginning to address systemic and institutional racism in the academy.

The AAUP’s Council also voted to add Linfield University to the Association’s list of censured administrations over the dismissal of Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a tenured English professor who spoke up about multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the university’s board of trustees. The Council vote follows a recommendation from the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which published a report in April that found that the administration retaliated against Pollack-Pelzner for speech and conduct he exercised as part of his responsibilities as a faculty trustee and that the institution violated its own regulations as well as the AAUP’s widely adopted principles of academic freedom and tenure by not demonstrating adequate cause for the dismissal.

In more positive news, the AAUP’s Council voted to accept the  recommendation of Committee A and remove St. Edward’s University from the Association’s list of censured administrations. St. Edward’s University was added to the list in 2019 as the result of the termination of a tenure-track and two tenured faculty members who were not afforded a dismissal procedure that comported with AAUP-supported standards. In July 2021 the institution’s newly installed president wrote that she had made removal of censure a priority that she hoped to achieve through shared governance. The administration began working with the faculty senate to address institutional policies implicated in the actions that led to censure. In May 2022, the governing board adopted several sets of revisions to the faculty manual that, among other issues, established tenure protections where they had previously existed only nominally. Last month the two tenured faculty members reported having reached an out-of-court settlement with the university. The case of the tenure-track faculty member is scheduled for jury trial in August. In late May, an AAUP representative made a virtual visit to campus on behalf of the AAUP’s national office, to confirm that current conditions for academic freedom and tenure at St. Edward’s are sound. Her report states that the university had taken “all the actions that the AAUP suggested” and that the faculty leaders with whom she spoke attested to “an improved climate for academic freedom and tenure.”

Find more information here.

Charles Toombs, Professor, San Diego State University
Chair of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure


Faculty at Miami University File to Form AAUP Union

With support from a strong majority of Miami University faculty, on Friday the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM) filed a petition for certification at the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) to form a union with the AAUP. Ohio statute allows the Miami administration to avoid a drawn-out and costly election by voluntarily recognizing the union.

This is a significant moment for faculty at Miami and for collective bargaining in Ohio. The Miami University union drive builds on a national wave of higher education organizing in recent years. Miami would join the ten out of fourteen other four-year Ohio public universities with collective bargaining agreements and would be the largest bargaining unit to file since Bowling Green State University in 2010.

FAM has built a strong organization rooted in member activism and centered on strengthening the role of faculty at their institution. “Through FAM, teaching and learning will be reinvigorated at Miami University,” says Theresa Kulbaga, professor of English and a lead FAM organizer. “Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. When faculty are valued and supported, the quality of our programs and our teaching are strengthened.”

The move was prompted by long-standing issues with working conditions, shared governance, compensation, and academic freedom.

“Miami’s faculty and administration can work together to support high quality teaching and learning,” notes Todd Edwards, FAM press secretary. “As institutions of higher education face unprecedented challenges, faculty have an important role to play in the search for solutions. A stronger voice for faculty means a stronger Miami.”

embers of the Faculty Alliance of Miami filing for union certification on Friday, June 3.

Congratulations to everyone who worked on the campaign!

The AAUP


New Report on Institutional Racism in the UNC System

Today the AAUP released a report of the Special Committee on Governance, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Racism in the University of North Carolina System. The report considers the influence of the North Carolina state legislature on the systemwide board of governors and campus boards of trustees. It discusses how political pressure and top-down leadership have obstructed meaningful faculty participation in the UNC system, jeopardized academic freedom, and reinforced institutional racism.

Read the full report here.

The special committee, for which we served as co-chairs, focused in-depth on UNC‒Chapel Hill as the flagship campus, but also examined events across the entire system. Through interviews with more than fifty individuals across the UNC system, the report details the pattern of political interference from the legislature and unilateral decision-making from university leadership that has increasingly come to affect the entire UNC system, with clear violations of AAUP-supported principles of academic governance set forth in the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.

You can also listen to a podcast discussion of the report here.

The report surveys the environment for governance and academic freedom in the UNC system against this backdrop of overtly partisan political control. It details how the intersection of broken governance, threats to academic freedom, and institutional racism affected campus-level matters, such as the closure of multiple academic centers run by faculty members who had been vocal critics of state leadership; the barring of centers from conducting litigation, which particularly affected the UNC‒Chapel Hill School of Law Center for Civil Rights; the controversial deal regarding “Silent Sam,” a Confederate monument; and the 2021 failed appointment of Nikole Hannah-Jones to an endowed chair in the School of Journalism and Media.

The report also details long-standing patterns of institutional racism that make the UNC system a particularly hostile environment for faculty, staff, and students of color. In examining the structural and cultural elements of racism within the UNC system, the report points to the racial climate; institutional inequities as manifested in the racial composition of the administration and faculty; the distribution of power, authority, and resources within the system; and retention of faculty and staff of color.

The special committee concluded that UNC needs strong and independent leadership that respects faculty expertise and observes widely accepted principles of academic governance, that defends academic inquiry from political pressures and constraints, and that is willing to do more than simply pay lip service to the idea of equity. The report emphasizes that the system- and campus-level governing boards not only need to fulfill their “special obligation to ensure that the history of the college or university shall serve as a prelude and inspiration to the future,” as described in the Statement on Government, but also “must ensure that the history of UNC inspires and serves as a prelude to a future that looks very different from its past and its present.”

To read the full report, visit the AAUP website.

Nicholas Fleisher, professor of Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Afshan Jafar, professor of Sociology at Connecticut College
Co-chairs of the special committee


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


New Report on Status of Academic Governance

It’s a mixed picture when it comes to shared governance faculty roles in decision making areas at four-year institutions of higher education. Today we released a second report on data collected from the 2021 AAUP Shared Governance Survey, the first national survey on shared governance since 2001. Key findings include:

  • In several areas in which higher education faculty had made progress in decision making authority between 1971 and 2001, the trend has reversed and returned to the status of 1971 or worse—most notably in institution-level decision making, such as the allocation of faculty positions and in budgetary matters. By contrast, several areas of decision making that are local in scope, such as programmatic curricular decision making or the selection of department chairs, have seen an increase in faculty authority.
  • Despite persistent opinions that faculty unionization somehow weakens shared governance, this survey reveals that in 22 of 29 areas, there is no statistically significant difference in faculty authority between unionized and non-unionized institutions. In six areas, faculty authority was higher at unionized institutions.
  • Overall, results of this survey present a mixed picture of the current state of shared governance. At most institutions, faculty authority is consistent with AAUP-recommended governance standards in decision making about programmatic, departmental, and institutional curricula; teaching assignments; and faculty searches, evaluations, and tenure and promotion standards. However, in several decision making areas, including budgets, buildings, and allocations of faculty positions, the faculty has little or no meaningful opportunity to participate at a large percentage of institutions.

Read the full report here.

The survey was conducted at 585 randomly-sampled four-year institutions. We asked senate chairs and other faculty governance leaders to assess 29 areas of decision making on a scale that ranges from administrative dominance to faculty dominance. The response rate was 68 percent.

Hans-Joerg Tiede, Director of Research, AAUP