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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


Join Our AAUP Member Facebook Group for Discussions of COVID-19

We hope you are staying well. In these challenging times, we are working to ensure that our COVID-19 graphicmembers are informed about how the AAUP and AAUP chapters are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Together, we can continue to defend academic freedom, shared decision-making, and the important role our institutions and these principles play in our society.

To facilitate wider discussion of the rapidly changing landscape of higher education during the current crisis, we’ve created a Facebook group where members can discuss questions, plans, and tactics with a group of their peers.

Click here to join the group.

A few notes. The group will be largely unmoderated; if you have specific questions for national AAUP staff, please contact the appropriate department by email. We ask that you keep the discussion civil and productive.

We chose Facebook because it has the widest reach–70 percent of adults in the United States use it, and we wanted a space where people are likely to visit and interact. We do recognize that some of you may have privacy concerns about using Facebook. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can create one specifically to access the group.

For up-to-date resources, please keep an eye on our COVID-19 resource page for higher education.

Another good resource is the AAUP and AFT Principles for Higher Education Response to COVID-19. That’s here.

In solidarity,

The AAUP

P.S. If you don’t want to join the group or aren’t on Facebook, you’ll still get all AAUP updates related to COVID-19 via email.


Report Finds Partisan Ideology and Political Ambition Motivated Changes at Maricopa

An AAUP investigation released today finds that the governing board of the Maricopa Community Colleges was motivated by a desire to bust the faculty union when it decided in February 2018 to repeal the entire faculty manual, restrict the faculty’s participation in institutional decision making, and terminate a “meet-and-confer” process. That process had been used for more than forty years to establish institutional policies related to faculty matters and to make recommendations on salary and budgets.

The board also eliminated the role of the only district-level representative faculty governance body. This also served as the governing body of the faculty association, an organization that was incorporated as a union, but which did not have collective-bargaining rights under state law. In short, the board’s actions destroyed what had been an effective system of shared governance.

Our investigating committee—Bethany Carson of Santa Fe Community College, Emily M.S. Houh of the University of Cincinnati, and I—found that the governing board acted in disregard of normative standards of academic governance, as laid out in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, which was jointly formulated by the AAUP, the American Council on Education, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

We also found evidence, based on correspondence obtained through open records requests, which strongly suggests that the board’s intervention was an engineered performance of political theater motivated by the partisan ideology of two former Republican members of the Arizona House of Representatives—one who served as chair of the board and the other as a member.

Join me for a Facebook Live discussion of the report tomorrow at 12 ET. RSVP here.

AAUP investigating committees are appointed in a few select cases annually in which severe departures from widely accepted principles and standards of academic freedom, tenure, or governance have been alleged and persist despite efforts to resolve them. Governance investigations are an important tool in our work to protect and advance the faculty’s voice in decision making; they shine a light on egregious practices and are intended to motivate institutions to improve these practices.

In this case, improvements came quickly. Not long after the visit of the investigating committee, three new members were elected to the Maricopa governing board and the existing board president announced his resignation. After the AAUP shared our findings with the administration, the board passed a proposal that rescinded the earlier changes and will eventually restore many of the shared governance mechanisms that the old board had terminated.

You can read the full report here.

Best,
Irene Mulvey,
Chair of the Investigating Committee,
Professor of Mathematics, Fairfield University

P.S.–You can support governance and academic freedom investigations by donating to the AAUP Foundation today.


Faculty Power Wins at Purdue! Forced Arbitration Dropped

American Association of University Professors members in Indiana have won another victory to reclaim Purdue University for students, not corporate profit.

After mounting pressure from an Indiana AAUP statewide campaign, the Kaplan-run Purdue University Global has announced an end to the use of a mandatory arbitration agreement against students. The agreement, contained within documents required for enrollment in the online university, stripped students of their legal rights to sue or join a class action lawsuit in cases of abuse. Kaplan, a for-profit university purchased by Purdue in 2017 and charged with running its online campus, has been the subject of multiple federal and state investigations for misleading marketing, inaccurate job placement numbers, and other false claims.

This victory was won by faculty-powered organizing. Will you take action to reclaim online college courses from private, corporate management by downloading the Education Not Privatization toolkit? The toolkit contains a primer on the rise of corporate online education, what’s at stake for faculty and students, and actions you can take to shape quality, faculty-led online courses at your institution.

Purdue Global announced that they will drop the abusive enrollment policy after the Indiana AAUP and allies brought it to light. Activists alerted regional accrediting agency the Higher Learning Commission, and eight AAUP chapters and several university senates in the state passed resolutions demanding an end to mandatory arbitration against students. The victory arrives on the heels of another recent faculty win at Purdue in fall 2018 when Indiana AAUP’s public pressure campaign successfully ended the use of non-disclosure agreements as a condition of faculty employment.

Recent wins by Indiana AAUP chapters set crucial limits to the privatization of public higher education, which threatens to erode academic freedom, shared governance, educational quality, and ultimately student success. These limits establish a precedent for faculty at colleges and universities around the country who want to reclaim higher education for students, not corporate profit.

You can reclaim your institution’s online education from private, profit-driven, corporate control and place it in the hands of faculty by downloading the toolkit here.

In Solidarity,
Bill V. Mullen
Professor of American Studies, Purdue University
Vice-president of Purdue AAUP

P.S. For more on the end to mandatory arbitration read Inside Higher Ed’s ”Purdue Global Nixes Student Arbitration Agreement” and for more on the fall 2018 NDA win, check out Inside Higher Ed’“Purdue Global Nondisclosure Agreement Gone.”


AAUP will investigate violations of shared governance at Vermont Law

This week, the AAUP authorized an investigation into apparent departures from widely adopted standards of shared governance at Vermont Law School after the school’s administration and governing board “restructured” the faculty by lowering salaries, reducing the number of full-time positions, and stripping many of tenure, all without involving the faculty in the decision-making process.

A June 5, 2018, memorandum presented fourteen tenured professors with a stark choice: either surrender their full-time, tenured positions and faculty voting rights, sign an agreement containing general and age-discrimination releases along with nondisparagement and nondisclosure provisions, and accept nontenured appointments at lower pay, or have their appointments summarily terminated as of July 1, 2018, with immediate cessation of salary and benefits.

After one faculty member contacted the AAUP seeking assistance, we wrote to the administration three times highlighting our concerns in the case and reiterating appropriate procedural standards for terminating appointments because of financial exigency.

Our concerns, in this case, are myriad. A decision of far-reaching importance and consequence to the entire law school community, and particularly to the faculty members and students, appears to have been taken by the Vermont Law School administration and board without meaningful consultation with the faculty. The Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, jointly formulated by the AAUP with the American Council on Education and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, “rests on the premise of an ‘inescapable interdependence’ in the relationship among governing board, administration, and faculty, which calls for ‘adequate communication among these components, and full opportunity for appropriate joint effort.”

In addition, with only five faculty members having retained tenure at an institution with more than six hundred students, the restructuring appears to have effectively eviscerated the existing tenure system and, with it, protections for academic freedom.

AAUP investigating committees in the area of college and university governance are charged with inquiring into cases that appear to feature severe departures from AAUP-supported governance standards. Committees are composed of AAUP members from other institutions who have had no previous involvement in the matter. If the investigating committee’s published report finds that serious violations have occurred, the AAUP may place the institution on its sanction list by vote of the Association’s annual meeting, which informs the academic community and the public that conditions for academic governance at the institution are unsound.

We will keep you apprised of developments in the case. If you’d like to support our investigative work around shared governance and academic freedom, please donate to the AAUP Foundation, which supports our investigations.

Thank you,

Anita Levy
Senior Program Officer, Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance