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Fall of the Giants

AAUP News Update

Attacks on academia are at a fever pitch as multiple state legislatures churn out dangerous culture war bills aimed at destroying various aspects of our higher education system, and ultimately damage our democracy. These threats are among the worst in the 108-year history of the AAUP. The press clips below only begin to document a month’s worth of news on this crisis and the stories of faculty fighting back—on campus, at state capitols, and in our communities nationwide.

We’ve seen times like this before, and they tend to directly precede periods of great progress. The robust organizing movement we are building in American higher education is a clear signal of a way forward.

Please browse the clips below on the great work being done by your colleagues and comrades nationwide to defend academic freedom and shared governance in the workplace and build a strong labor movement that is transforming higher education. If you’re on Twitter, please retweet the links in parentheses. As always, to stay up to date on all our work, follow the AAUP on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

AAUP Top Clips:



New Jersey:

North Carolina:




In Solidarity,

Kelly Benjamin
AAUP Media and Communications

Emporia State Layoffs a Direct Assault on Tenure and Academic Freedom

Today the AAUP published an investigative report concerning the termination of thirty tenured and tenure-track faculty appointments at Emporia State University.

The investigating committee found that, in carrying out the terminations, the ESU administration and the Kansas Board of Regents disregarded AAUP-recommended principles and procedural standards. It also found that the board’s reactivation in May 2022 of a temporary COVID-19-related policy allowed system institutions to abrogate existing university regulations that did comport in most essential respects with AAUP-supported standards.

The temporary policy suspended existing university regulations and gave the ESU administration the authority to “suspend, dismiss, or terminate” any professor, tenured or untenured, without involving faculty governance bodies and without affording academic due process to the affected faculty members. Although the board of regents offered the policy to all system institutions, only Emporia State’s administration adopted it–in September 2022, just three months before it was set to expire.

The investigating committee’s report concluded that the termination of faculty appointments, the “realignment” of curricular programs, and the development and approval of the university’s “Framework for Workforce Management” all occurred without meaningful faculty involvement, demonstrating “that conditions for academic governance at Emporia State are deficient.”

The full report is available here.

Nicholas Fleisher
Chair, Investigating Committee

AAUP Report: Shared Governance and Academic Freedom at Collin College are ‘Grossly Inadequate’

Today, the AAUP published an investigative report concerning the Collin College administration’s summary termination of the services of professors Lora Burnett, Suzanne Jones, and Michael Phillips.

Professor Burnett became the subject of national controversy in October 2020 for her tweets about the US vice-presidential debate, including one that urged Vice President Mike Pence to “shut his little demon mouth.” A state representative texted Collin’s president to point out that Burnett was “paid with taxpayer dollars”; the president replied that he was “aware of the situation” and “would deal with it.” In denying her reappointment for the following year, the administration cited her “insubordinate” challenging of the administration and governing board on social media and institutional email lists during that controversy.

In acting against Professors Jones and Phillips, the administration charged them with using social media to exert “external pressure” on the administration regarding what many faculty members considered to be inadequate COVID-19 policies instead of using “internal communications processes.” The administration’s action against Jones also invoked “misuse of the college’s name” because she had failed to prevent the Texas Faculty Association, of which she was a statewide and chapter officer, from listing her as a Collin College faculty member on its website and Facebook page.

The investigating committee found that the Collin administration’s actions involved “egregious violations” of all three faculty members’ academic freedom to speak as citizens and to criticize institutional policies, and, in the case of Phillips, of academic freedom in teaching. The committee determined that the administration dismissed Jones and Phillips from their appointments without a pretermination hearing before an elected faculty body in which the burden of demonstrating adequate cause for dismissal rests with the administration. The committee also found that the administration failed to afford Burnett the opportunity to petition an elected faculty committee to review her allegation that the nonrenewal decision violated her academic freedom.

The report concludes that the conditions for shared governance and academic freedom at Collin College are “grossly inadequate.”

The full report is available here.

Mark Criley,
Senior Program Officer, AAUP Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance

New Episodes of AAUP Presents

It has been a busy week at the AAUP, and our podcast AAUP Presents is back with two new episodes!

On Saturday, the AAUP’s governing Council voted unanimously to add Indiana University Northwest to the Association’s list of censured administrations. In a new episode we discuss the AAUP’s investigative report about the case, which revolved around the summary suspension and dismissal of Dr. Mark McPhail. The investigation found that in acting against McPhail the administration disregarded AAUP-supported standards of academic due process. Investigators found “highly credible” McPhail’s allegation that the administration’s actions were prompted by his criticism of the administration’s handling of racial equity issues and therefore violated his academic freedom. Here’s a direct link.

The episode features Afshan Jafar, professor of sociology at Connecticut College and the chair of the investigating committee for the report, and Mark Criley, senior program officer in the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance, who staffed the investigation.

In the next podcast episode, we look at what last week’s student debt relief cases before the Supreme Court mean for faculty. Risa Lieberwitz, the AAUP’s general counsel and a professor of labor and employment law at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and Jenna Sablan, the AAUP’s senior program officer for government relations, weigh in on what happened at the high court and what’s ahead on the debt relief front. Here’s the link to the podcast.

You can find these episodes (and all previous ones) here on our website.

We’ll have more episodes for you this month. Make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred platform to get notified when new episodes are released.

Thanks for listening,
Mariah Quinn, Digital Organizer, AAUP

2022 AAUP Highlights

To roll us into the new year on a high note, we’ve created a video with some highlights of the AAUP’s work in 2022—from the special report Governance, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Racism in the University of North Carolina System to major research projects like the annual Faculty Compensation Survey—and of the AAUP’s affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers.  

Watch the recap on YouTube here or click photo watch.

Screenshot from the AAUP highlights video

Thank you for being a member of the AAUP! You can find links to all of our reports and other materials on our website at aaup.org.

In solidarity in 2023 and beyond.


P.S. A reminder that you can continue to follow our work in 2023 in many ways. We have new episodes of our podcast AAUP Presents out, so catch up on all episodes and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform now. We’re also on the major social media platforms: we’re @AAUP on Twitter, and here’s the link to our Facebook account. Our Instagram account is @AAUPNational.