AAUP@FHSU


How to Fight for Higher Ed as a Public Good

As states divest from public higher education, our colleges and universities face unprecedented threats from undue donor influence and corporations seeking to privatize our public institutions. Here is some information about resources that you may find helpful as we work nationwide to ensure that higher education continues to serve the public good, and not the interests of a wealthy few.

Fight Undue Donor Influence

As a faculty member and president of the AAUP chapter at George Mason University, I’ve been involved in the fight against undue donor influence. Together, faculty, students, public-education allies, and concerned citizens have been working to expose what the Koch brothers and other members of their dark-money network have gotten from over $100 million in restricted gifts to GMU. Turns out—it’s a lot! We’ve exposed donor influence over faculty hiring and retention, research and scholarship, and affiliated centers and institutes.

Now, UnKoch My Campus, with the help of grant funding from the AAUP Foundation, has developed a report with model donor policies that you can download here. The report provides a roadmap for protecting your institution from undue donor influence and includes  templates for faculty senate motions, gift acceptance procedures, and approval processes for donor-sponsored centers.

Fight Privatization and the Primacy of Profit

As we work to end undue donor influence at GMU, we are also confronting the privatization of our public university through expanding online initiatives—and the potential for a fully online university under the Mason brand modeled after Purdue Global. Like many other institutions, GMU is contracting with a for-profit company to do much of the technical work and some of the core academic work to expand online education offerings. It is also considering the creation of a public-private online university that would further privatize higher education in Virginia. Such public-private contracts often benefit shareholders of the private companies rather than students and faculty.

To shape the quality of online education at your institution, check out the AAUP’s Education Not Privatization toolkit here.

No doubt, there is much work to do. Let’s dig in. Check out the tools on offer from AAUP and UnKoch My Campus. Together we can protect academic freedom and higher education as a public good!

In Solidarity,
Bethany Letiecq
Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Science, GMU


They’re Privatizing Purdue

In five days the Higher Learning Commission, Purdue’s regional accrediting body, will vote on the final step toward privatization. If the HLC votes in favor, online courses at public land-grant Purdue University will be produced and run by for-profit higher ed corporation Kaplan.

The Indiana conference of the AAUP, along with the Purdue Social Justice Coalition, Hoosiers for Action, UnKoch My Campus, In the Public Interest, American Federation of Teachers, and elected officials across the state of Indiana have mounted a bold coalition-based resistance to this privatization deal. But we need your help.

Stand with us in urging the Higher Learning Commission to vote against accrediting Kaplan’s online program at Purdue until issues of transparency, student welfare, and academic quality are resolved. Sign our #KeepPurduePublic petition.

Additionally, if you’re a community leader, serving as a local elected official or at the helm of an organization, sign our Leader Sign-on Letter.

Kaplan is notorious. And the lack of transparency with which the Purdue-Kaplan deal has been advanced is troubling — even more so when considering Kaplan’s record of unaccountability to their students.

As Senators Dick Durbin and Sherrod Brown point out in their September 2017 letter cautioning Purdue University President Mitch Daniels: “Like nearly every major for-profit college, Kaplan has been the subject of numerous state and federal investigations and lawsuits. In 2014, the company reached a settlement with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to settle allegations that it made misleading marketing claims to Florida students. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey reached a settlement with Kaplan in 2015 related to inflated job placement numbers and unfair recruiting practices. Also in 2015, the company agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Justice more than $1 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit.”

Tell the Higher Learning Commission to #KeepPurduePublic and say #NoKaplan.

Or if you’re a community leader, sign here.

This is just one piece of a bold coalition-based movement we’re building to keep privatization out of public higher education. We hope you’ll join us.

In Solidarity,
David P. Nalbone, PhD
Purdue University Northwest
Vice President, Indiana Conference of the AAUP


P.S. Here’s even more background information on the Purdue-Kaplan deal to share with friends and colleagues: