New Perils for Academic Freedom for the Lecture Track at Emory

Of our 500-some faculty in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, about 22% are on the lecture track. Many LTF spend their careers here and are vital members of our faculty, but they do not have the job security necessary for true academic freedom. And things are getting worse.

Last week the AAUP learned that the college dean’s office has added new language to Lecture Track Faculty reappointment letters that effectively negates the multi-year contract aspect of reappointment. We think that now all the LTF reappointment letters include a line saying that the agreement is “contingent on satisfactory performance as evaluated annually in your department merit review,” meaning that even during the time of the reappointment the LTF could be cut if he or she gets a poor evaluation. This violates the language of the “Appointment and Review of Lecture-Track Faculty in Emory College” document which stipulates that the annual evaluations completed by the department chair “will be kept on file as a partial basis for decisions about reappointment.”  Effectively then, this means that the LTF’s 3-year, 5-year, and 7-year contracts are meaningless and that every year their employment is contingent on their chair’s review of their work. If this concerns you, please let the dean’s office know of your worries. And feel free to contact the LTF leadership and also the AAUP chapter president, Noëlle McAfee at Also, for those LTF receiving reappointment letters this year, consider crossing out the problematic phrases, initial, and then sign at the bottom. Or, if that strikes you as too risky, attach a note saying that this language is a problem. 

Now the LTF positions are even more contingent than before. All faculty — TT track and LTF track — have an interest in promoting academic freedom for all faculty, so I urge all to help turn around this bad turn of events. Ultimately we need the university’s grey book to close all the loopholes that allow for unlimited reappointments of “limited faculty” without any real job security and the academic freedom that comes with that. For why this is important, see these passages in the preamble of the grey book itself:

A concern to provide a University atmosphere in which there is freedom to pursue truth and to discuss all relevant questions has led the trustees of Emory University to accept the general principles and purposes embodied in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure that was originally cosponsored by the Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors and subsequently endorsed by more than a score of major educational associations and learned societies. 

According to the authors: “The purpose of this statement is to promote public understanding and support of academic freedom and tenure, and agreement of procedures to assure them in colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual faculty member or the institution as a whole. The common good depends on the free search for truth and its free exposition.” 

The 1940 Statement emphasizes that to ensure maximum effectiveness; faculty members should have security adequate for freedom to teach and to seek truth. This includes security of position after a reasonable period of probation, income commensurate with professional attainments, and assurance of explicit contract. As a citizen, the faculty member is also entitled to the right to participate in activities related to citizenship in a democratic society. 

The new language in LTF reappointment letters deny these very principles, and so we call on the college administration to rescind this deleterious language.