AAUP censures institutions

This just in from Scotty…. and from the chronicle.

AAUP@GA Chapter Presidents and AAUP members,

Here is an extract from today’s online Chronicle of Higher Education:

“The American Association of University Professors on Saturday added St. Edward’s University, in Texas, and Nunez Community College, in Louisiana, to its censure list. The list highlights institutions that violate academic freedom and tenure practices.”
It would be very worthwhile to check out that link. Much of what happened at the annual meetings focused on internal reorganization, which is probably not too interesting to many – especially to non-AAUP faculty. But the institutions on the censure and sanction list, especially the reasoning, should be of interest to all. The linked article goes over four cases that were voted on.

The first one (St. Edwards, in Austin, TX) involved the dismissal of two tenured faculty members essentially because they were adjudged to be activists on their campus. They were not given the process protections mandated by the AAUP (and in this case, by their own faculty manual). They were husband and wife, and firing them both zeroed out their family income. The AAUP stepped in to defend them, the AAUP Foundation actually contributed money to them during the investigation process to keep the proverbial wolf from their door, and they are now back on their feet financially, at a different institution. But St. Edwards was censured because they still have not fixed the process that led to the faculty members’ firing.

In the second one (Nuñez Community College), a faculty member on an annual non-tenure track contract was not renewed despite continuous service at the institution for over 20 years. The AAUP standards are that any faculty member who has continuous service over seven years has “de facto tenure” in the sense that (s)he has earned the process rights that include a board hearing before peers, with the burden of proof to justify the non-renewal on the administration and with the faculty member afforded the right to rebut. None of that happened, and so the institution was censured.

In the third one (Vermont Law School), the offense was against shared governance principles in that there was a supposed financial crisis that caused the school to effect massive layoffs of tenured faculty members, along with several offers to re-hire at much lower salaries. There was no faculty governance visibility into the degree of the financial difficulties nor involvement in weighing and recommending a way out. Since this clearly violated AAUP shared governance standards, the institution was sanctioned (“sanctions” pertain to shared governance violations, whereas “censures” apply to academic freedom and tenure violations).

And finally, in the fourth one an institution previously sanctioned (Idaho State) petitioned the AAUP as to how they could get off the sanction list, following the arrival of a new university president. The AAUP went over why they were sanctioned in the first place, and the institution made changes to their policies and procedures accordingly. So the AAUP voted to remove them from the sanction list. This process, although it is far from immediate, is really why the sanction and censure processes exist: to put pressure (not “legal” pressure in the sense of court cases, but peer pressure and PR pressure) on institutions who disregard AAUP standards and convince them eventually to implement those standards.

So here we have cases regarding tenured faculty, non-tenure track faculty, and governance in general, in each of which the AAUP supported faculty rights and responsibilities. And one case in which the institution made changes and corrections, as a direct result of an AAUP investigation.

Also mentioned in the write-up was a fifth case this year (Maricopa Community College) that did not require a vote, in which there was an AAUP investigation regarding shared governance processes. The investigation write-up included recommendations to fix the situation, which they did immediately – and thereby avoided being sanctioned in the first place. This happens frequently in both censure and sanction cases, and of course does not gain the adverse public relations spotlight on the institution. These are the quiet “wins” for faculty rights, thanks to the AAUP.

There are many reasons why the AAUP exists, but none are more important than these. All your faculty colleagues, including faculty who have not yet joined an AAUP chapter, should know about them. Whether or not they are AAUP members, whether they are new hires or have been there for years, and whether or not they are on a tenure track, every faculty member should know of the rights afforded by AAUP processes, even when those processes are not (yet?) mentioned in your faculty manual or honored at your institution. AAUP membership is like health insurance: you pay for it even when you are well, so that it will be there when it is really needed – even when it’s not you, but your neighbor who really needs it.

Have a great summer!

— Scotty

Robert M. Scott, PhD
President, Georgia Conference, AAUP
Mathematics Department
Augusta University
Office: Allgood Hall, Room N327
Office phone: 706-667-4032

What are your chief concerns?

Dear members:

This year we are going to do a recruitment drive for new members of the Emory Chapter.  In order to kick this off, we would like to know what your concerns are so that we can begin to develop recruitment materials.  We would also like to hear from you about willingness to assits in recruiting new members.  Please contact Pat Marsteller, our chapter secretary, at pmars@emory.edu.


the leadrship team

Chapter Supports Continuous Employment for the Lecture Track and other supposedly “limited” appointments

On September 21, 2017, the Emory AAUP chapter passed this resolution:

Whereas Emory University’s faculty handbook or “Gray Book” begins with an affirmation of the importance of job security for the academic freedom of all faculty as laid out in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure (authored by the American Association of University Professors and endorsed by leading higher education institutions throughout the country);

Whereas that statement, according to the Gray Book, “emphasizes that to ensure maximum effectiveness, faculty members should have security adequate for freedom to teach and seek the truth” which “includes security of position after a reasonable period of probation, income commensurate with professional attainments, and assurance of explicit contract”;

Whereas passages in the body of the Gray Book deny this freedom to a substantial and growing portion of faculty, namely those with “limited” appointments, many of whom spend decades teaching at Emory; and

Whereas Emory University has otherwise been a leader in integrating all faculty into the educational and public service missions of the University;

We affirm the 1940 statement’s call that following “the expiration of a probationary period,” teachers and researchers should have permanent or continuous employment, “and their service should be terminated only for adequate cause…or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies.”

We further affirm the AAUP specification that “with the exception of special appointments clearly limited to a brief association with the institution, and reappointments of retired faculty members on special conditions,” all faculty appointments whether tenure-track, lecture-track, or otherwise are either: (1) probationary appointments of roughly seven years or (2) post-review appointments with continuous employment.

We call on the University Administration and faculty to work actively to close any loopholes that deny the very “security adequate for freedom to teach and seek the truth” that the Gray Book promises to those faculty who are currently designated “limited appointment” faculty.

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 nmcafee@emory.edu. 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.

Teach In On the Quad: Truth and Politics

Learning the responsibilities of dialogue and reason that come with the right of free speech is the focus of an all-day “Teach-In on the Quad” this Friday, March 24. Organized by the Emory chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the event features panels and talks from scholars across disciplines, including both professors and students. All members of the Emory community are invited to drop by at any time for the event which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the Administration Building on the Quad.

Time Slot Speaker Theme or Title
10:00 Jessica Thompson (ANT) “Why Scientists Should Argue”
Mar Sanchez (NEURO) “Should Scientists Be Activists?”
David Weinshenker (NEURO)

Katherine Bryant

Frank Bove (CDC) Public health, inequality, access
11:00 Amy Aidman [+Tanine Allison, Beretta Smith-Shomade, Hank Klibanoff] (FILM) Media literacy and fake news
12:00 Adriana Chira (HIST) Immigration and human trafficking
Daniel Thompson (ANT) Discourses of foreignness
Tarangini Saxena (MDP), Ray Serrano (Rollins), et al Undocumented and DACA students’ experiences in higher education in the South
1:00 Brandy Simula (SOC, QEP) Strengths and weaknesses of evidence
Shan Mukhtar (ESL) Using evidence in writing
2:00 Rick Doner (POLS) Teaching politics in the Age of Trump
Ben Hertzberg (POLS) “Why Democracy?”
3:00 Lynne Huffer (WGS)
Gyan Pandey (HIST) “The University as Sanctuary”
David Nugent (ANT)
4:00 Jonathan Basile (Comp lit) How grad student unions protect academic freedom
John Lysaker (PHIL) truth and respect for one’s interlocutors

Emory AAUP Calls for Tenure for LTF

As of November 29, 2016, the Emory AAUP chapter calls for creating a path to tenure for the Lecture Track Faculty in Emory University’s college of arts and sciences. In line with the national AAUP’s “one faculty” campaign, the chapter holds that tenure is vital to protecting academic freedom.

The principal purpose of tenure is to safeguard academic freedom, which is necessary for all who teach and conduct research in higher education.  When faculty members can lose their positions because of their speech or publications research findings, they cannot properly fulfill their core responsibilities to advance and transmit knowledge.

The chapter also endorsed a set of recommendations that the LTF had made to improve faculty climate. The recommendations include calling for more transparency and equity, more scholarship support, more recognition of excellence in teaching, and salary and security parity with other institutions.

The full statement is available here.

AAUP Chapter Endorses Sanctuary Movement

On November 29, 2016, the Emory chapter of the American Association of University Professors endorsed a petition to establish Emory University, including all its units, as a sanctuary campus of higher learning for our undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. In addition, we ask that these sanctuary measures extend to all Emory employees. The full petition is available here.


National AAUP Endorses Call for Suspending Cuts Pending Review

The national office of the American Association of University Professors has sent a letter to Emory University President James Wagner supporting our local chapter’s call for the administration to suspend implementation of the cuts to programs and departments (which were announced September 14) pending substantive faculty review. After noting the many ways in which the faculty were not given “adequate opportunity to exercise its primary responsibilities in this matter,” the letter closes as follows:

We share the Emory AAUP chapter’s concerns that adequate standards of academic governance have not been met in the administration’s actions to close programs. Further, we are troubled that long-serving faculty members appear not to have been afforded the due process protections that, under our standards, should be accorded those who have exceeded the maximum probationary period. We support the chapter’s call for a substantive faculty review of the process and resulting decisions and for the suspension of any implementation of the closures pending such a review.

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Here is a link to a pdf of the letter from national AAUP

aaup @ emory

The  purpose of the American Association of University Professors is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. The Emory University chapter is deeply committed to furthering these aims.

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