10.11.2018 | Data Snapshot: Contingent Faculty in US Higher Ed
The AAUP research department has taken a look at the data around tenure and the casualization of faculty labor. We looked at at overall trends and broke out data regarding full-time contingent faculty and part-time and graduate-student instructors. Using data drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), our findings highlight the current status of the academic labor system in US higher education.
10.03.2018 | AAUP Remembers Robert O'Neil
We are very sorry to hear of the death of Robert O’Neil, a law professor and former president of the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin system, as well as the founding director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. Bob’s commitment to the AAUP spanned multiple decades and our association benefited greatly from his expertise and wise counsel.
AAUP has filed an amicus brief in support of Duquesne University faculty who have voted to form a union, arguing that widespread acceptance of AAUP guidelines about academic freedom at religious institutions illustrates a straightforward path for determining the right of faculty to organize. The case, Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit v. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is currently before the federal court of appeals in DC.
09.18.2018 | Unacceptable Attacks on Science
President Trump has attacked the credibility of a study that found some 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017, claiming falsely that the study was "done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.”
The AAUP takes no position on the accuracy of the study. But such research can be properly evaluated only by qualified experts through open channels of review and debate. For the president of the United States to accuse scholars of political bias, without a shred of evidence, is an unacceptable assault on independent research and the academic freedom of scientists.
09.06.2018 | Purdue Global to Stop Requiring NDAs
The announcement today by Purdue Global that it will immediately stop requiring faculty to sign a nondisclosure agreement as a condition of employment is a huge victory. It demonstrates that when faculty join together they have a powerful voice to protect academic freedom, shared governance, and higher education for the common good.
The AAUP has appointed an ad hoc committee to formally investigate apparent departures from widely adopted standards of academic governance at Maricopa County Community College. The matter stems from a February resolution of the college’s governing board that terminated a “meet-and-confer” provision of the faculty policy manual and ordered the creation of a new manual that would severely limit the participation of the faculty in institutional governance.
08.28.2018 | Victory at Rutgers
Remarks about gentrification and race made by Rutgers professor James Livingston on Facebook were the subject of a review by the university's Office of Employment Equity, which found that the posts were not protected by the First Amendment and furthermore violated the university’s policy on discrimination and harassment. After hearing from the national AAUP and the Rutgers AAUP/AFT chapter, Rutgers president Robert Barchi has said that the administration will reconsider its finding and convene an advisory group of First Amendment and academic freedom scholars and attorneys.
The AAUP has released a copy of a non-disclosure agreement that appears to be a condition of employment for Purdue Global employees, including instructional faculty. Last March Indiana’s Purdue University purchased the for-profit online institution Kaplan University which was rebranded as Purdue Global. The agreement, which asserts ownership the faculty’s teaching-related materials, undermines standard academic practice, violating faculty rights to their own intellectual property as well as their academic freedom.08.08.2018 | Letter to Israeli Government On Katherine Franke
Today the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure has released a letter sent to the Israeli government about the interrogation, subsequent expulsion, and apparent banning from Israel of Columbia Law School professor Katherine Franke in April.
08.08.2018 | Statement On Anti-BDS Legislation and Universities
Today the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure released a statement calling on public universities to stop requiring speakers and others to pledge that they do not now, nor will they in the future, endorse the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS).
08.01.2018 | AAUP Supports Affirmative Action
The AAUP joined with the American Council on Education and thirty-five other higher education associations in filing an amicus brief in federal court this week opposing a challenge to race-based admissions at Harvard University. We argue that “a diverse student body is essential to educational objectives of colleges and universities, and that each institution should be able to exercise its academic judgment to determine within broad limits the diversity that will advance its own particular mission.”
08.01.2018 | Reworking an Approach to Paying Online Instructors
Online instructors at Colorado Mesa University get paid per student for overtime hours. Now the institution is tweaking a model that's enticing to instructors but may not be best for students. But Howard Bunsism, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University, points out; "Higher education should always be about the learning experience. When you pay people this way, it really doesn’t coincide with that mission and what we’re really trying to accomplish."
In defending its policy allowing the concealed carry of handguns in classrooms, the University of Texas has taken a surprising position in a federal appeals court — that individual professors do not have academic freedom.
Attorneys for three University of Texas professors asked a federal appeals court to revive their challenge of a law allowing people with concealed-handgun licenses to carry weapons on public university campuses. Attorney for the professors said national studies and the views of national professional organizations, including the American Association of University Professors, attest to the harm guns in a classroom can do to academic freedom.
The Chronicle spoke with William B. Gould IV, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board who is also an emeritus law professor at Stanford University, about what the ruling could mean for public colleges and the labor movement broadly.
06.27.2018 | State approves faculty union
After a lengthy organizing push, faculty members at Oregon State University now have a union.
The Oregon Employment Relations Board announced on Wednesday that United Academics of Oregon State University has been certified as the exclusive bargaining representative for teaching and research faculty at OSU.
UNL now is one of 56 institutions on the AAUP’s censure list. A censure means the AAUP believes a college’s leaders have failed to live up to principles of tenure and academic freedom formed in 1940 by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green said Saturday that he was disappointed by the AAUP’s decision.
“The big irony is that their solution is right-wing social engineering,” said Michael Behrent, an associate professor of history at Appalachian State University in North Carolina and a co-author of a new report, for the American Association of University Professors, on speech legislation. “They’re supposedly against the idea of speech codes and authorities regulating what can and cannot be said,” Mr. Behrent added. “But they really are in fact advocating that.”
In spite of objections by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s administration to AAUP’s report on Courtney Lawton’s dismissal from teaching duties, the AAUP’s Committee A will recommend placing the university on its list of censured administrations. AAUP senior counsel Aaron Nisenson in a letter to UNL wrote: "The AAUP will not revise the Report or its conclusions in the Report and intends to continue with its censure process with respect to actions taken by the UNL administration."
06.01.2018 | In Defense of the Liberal Arts
A statement on the liberal arts by the AAUP and AAC&U comes at a time when some public and private colleges and universities are eliminating or scaling back long-established programs and majors. Michael Bérubé, who worked on the statement and serves on the AAUP's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said, "Distasteful as it may be to some people in the humanities, it seems about time to be making the case not only for the intellectual value but also for the economic value of degrees in the humanities."
Outsized publicity about a small number of incidents on campuses has provided a pretext for state laws regarding free speech that aim to undermine the authority of universities and colleges and mandate penalties for student protestors. A recent AAUP report documents the proliferation of campus free-speech legislation modeled on templates developed by the Goldwater Institute, a think tank advancing a conservative agenda.
05.22.2018 | Teaching Eval Shakeup
Evidence of bias in student evaluations of teaching and a lack of relevance to learning outcomes led the University of Southern California to stop considering them for tenure and promotion decisions. USC and some other institutions are shifting to a lower-stakes approach to evaluating teachers. The findings of a 2015 AAUP survey on teaching evaluations demonstrated the need for institutions to rethink their evaluation methods.
A new AAUP investigative report examines the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's dismissal of instructor Courtney Lawton after a video circulated of her protest against a student recruiting for Turning Point USA. UNL faculty member and AAUP Nebraska conference past-president Julia Schleck said, “I am appalled by the elected representatives who for partisan reasons pressured the university to break its own rules,” and "deeply disappointed in our leadership for having capitulated to this pressure.”
The release of donor agreements that George Mason University signed with the Charles Koch Foundation and other benefactors revealed provisions allowing for donor involvement in decisions regarding faculty and curriculum. AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum expressed particular concern about undue influence in hiring faculty and the problem of "promoting a political agenda" through a designated focus on free-market principles.
The AAUP's Committee on College and University Governance has voted to recommend the University of Iowa's removal from the AAUP's list of sanctioned institutions because of improvements in shared governance in the two years since the secretive hiring of president Bruce Harreld led to a sanction vote. AAUP members will vote on the committee's recommendation at their June annual meeting. AAUP senior program officer Hans-Joerg Tiede said, “Every time an institution is removed from the sanction or censure list, it confirms the importance of the standards that we advocate for.”
Contingent faculty in Illinois are responding to instability and inadequate compensation with union activism. AAUP executive director Julie Schmid disagrees with claims that graduate student instructors should not have collective-bargaining rights because they are primarily students rather than employees.
04.17.2018 | New Limits on Overtime
The Labor Department has added online adjunct instructors and postdoctoral fellows to the category of academic workers ineligible for overtime pay. AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum said, “This is just a continuation of that rolling back [of protections for workers] and making sure that adjuncts continue to receive the same shitty pay they’ve been getting.”
A rise in the cost of living chipped away at salary gains by full-time faculty members in the 2017-18 academic year, according to new survey data published by the AAUP.
04.11.2018 | Faculty Salaries Up 3%
Each year, AAUP’s analysis touches on different aspects of faculty pay. The new report discusses salary compression, or when professors at lower ranks are paid close to what higher-ranked professors are paid due to market and other differences at their points of hire.
AAUP Council member and EMU accounting professor Howard Bunsis explains how Eastern Michigan University's controversial plan to cut four sports teams to save money will actually end up costing money. He says the only way for EMU to save money on sports is to switch the expensive football program from Division 1 to Division 2.
Colleges are meant to be a home for free inquiry. But these days, not all professors feel that freedom. Across the country, in the past year and a half, university professors have been targeted via online campaigns because of their research, their teaching or their social media posts. The AAUP's Joerg Tiede said no matter what side you're on politically, it's clear that academic freedom is under assault, as it has been many times in the past. The AAUP has been tracking this latest wave of targeted harassment and issuing recommendations for policymakers.
03.29.2018 | Tenure Under Attack in Kentucky
Late addition to budget bill would allow dismissal of tenured professors due to program changes or eliminations, ending protections previously adopted by college boards. Nancy McKenney, a faculty member at Eastern Kentucky and president of the Kentucky Conference of the AAUP said, "Introducing uncertainty about tenure and job security will make recruitment and retention of faculty even more problematic."
As public confidence declines, university budgets and investments face growing scrutiny. Caprice Lawless, second vice president of the AAUP said faculty are used to researching issues and publishing findings. To raise awareness, her chapter of part-time faculty in Colorado have even woven financial figures — some obtained through public-records requests — into a tongue-in-cheek coloring book with puzzles challenging readers to match the six-figure salary with the community college president who earns it.
AAUP Governance Committee chair Michael DeCesare weighs in on events at Syracuse University.
University faculty around the state are raising red flags over proposed legislative language that appears to let administrators ignore tenure protections as they downsize because of financial cutbacks. The AAUP's Anita Levy said, “This is very far reaching and over-reaching on the part of the Kentucky Senate. It’s obviously very disturbing in that it completely supplants the role of faculty governance, and supersedes all governing policies.”
With EMU cutting its softball, wrestling, women's tennis and men's swimming and diving programs, football was a primary topic of discussion. Faculty and students have called for EMU to drop to Division II football or cut the program all together in the past. Howard Bunsis, accounting professor and treasurer of the EMU-AAUP, suggested to the board in April 2016 that the university consider making the shift.
03.16.2018 | Grade F for DeVos in a Year of Setbacks
It wasn’t much of a welcoming party. In January 2017, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a statement urging the U.S. Senate to reject Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Education Secretary, writing that “in both ideology and practice she has violated the principles of quality education that the AAUP has defended for over a century.” They weren’t alone in their objections.
Amid news that Eastern Michigan University plans to cut nearly 60 positions to erase a deficit between $4.5 and 5.5 million, faculty and staff are arguing the university isn't looking closely enough at its athletics programs for budget cuts. Around 70 faculty and staff were joined by Michigan gubernatorial candidates Abdul El-Sayed and Bill Cobbs on Thursday, March 15, outside of Welch Hall, asking EMU to look closely at its "sacred cow" - the athletics budget - that was subsidized by $27.3 million in 2015, according to NCAA financial disclosure forms.
Dr. Angela Colistra cites AAUP data regarding women holding more lower-ranking academic positions than men and encourages mother scholars to be an advocate for equity within their institutions.
More than 200 students and faculty gathered at the quad in front of Kirk Douglas Hall at St. Lawrence University just before 10 a.m. Wednesday to participate in the national and international walkouts to protest gun violence. AAUP chapter officer Christopher Buck spoke on the issue of firearms and academic freedom, saying that keeping firearms off campuses allowed free discussion without fear of violence. He said, “(The Trump administration) would rather militarize educational institutions than pursue more sensible gun laws.
The AAUP has joined California State University faculty in their criticism of sweeping changes to classes ordered last year by Chancellor Tim White.
03.05.2018 | When Students Harass Professors
Academe’s Me Too movement has thus far focused on professors harassing students, or senior professors harassing junior professors. Yet a recent case highlights the fact that professors, too, may be vulnerable to abuse by students. The AAUP's Joerg Tiede says sexual harassment “should not be tolerated by members of either group,” and both accused professors and students should receive appropriate due process following a complaint.
03.02.2018 | Striking a Nerve
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt offers strategies for when the right wing attacks. Practical tips include forwarding your administration AAUP’s recent publications on targeted online harassment and “What You Can Do About Targeted Online Harassment.”
Faculty at the University of Tennessee are concerned about proposed changes to the post-tenure review process that they say will essentially eliminate tenure. The AAUP's Greg Scholtz said, "It's strange and we've never seen it before."
Out of the roughly 66,000 students on UCF’s campus, only two have an official role in the search for the next president – a figure that’s worrying to some students. Michael DeCesare, chairman of the AAUP's Committee on College and University Governance, said having only one student in presidential search committees is not unusual, though the association recommends proportional student representation. DeCesare emphasized however that “each member should be selected by his or her own constituency by election,” which was not the case in UCF’s search committee.
02.23.2018 | What Will it Take for Unions to Survive Janus?
Union members, activists, and community members will take part in a day of action on February 24 to focus attention on a Supreme Court case with profound and threatening implications for the labor movement. On February 26, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. Sherry Wolf, with Rutgers AAUP-AFT, and others discuss the current situation and possibilities for the future.
Rachel Ida Buff, AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom editor and a member of the AAUP Committee on College and University Governance, writes about how the president of the University of Wisconsin System is trying to reconcile a well-funded assault on public institutions with the state’s deep blue sea of support for accessible education.
AAUP Council member Howard Bunsis discusses budgets and fear. He says to faculty, "You can’t just put your head down, teach your classes, do your research, and go home. If you want to change the place, you have to act collectively. ... We’re always better off when we act together.”
02.06.2018 | More Scrutiny for Confucius Institutes; One to Close
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio wrote to four Florida colleges and universities Monday asking them to close their Confucius Institutes, centers of Chinese language and cultural education that are housed in U.S.
Another faculty backlash is brewing against University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross because Republican lawmakers got a heads-up about his far-reaching plans to restructure the two-year colleges while faculty, staff and students were kept in the dark. Several emails obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio revealed the UW System president intentionally kept his plans a secret from campus governance groups so they wouldn't be thwarted.
Far from the comfort of an ivory tower, the world of academia has led many Bay Area part-time college instructors into secret lives of hardship. The AAUP's Howard Bunsis said, "I see this at institution after institution," he said. "The number and salaries of instructors is flat or down; the number and salaries of admins goes up."
The Daily Tar Heel examines the practice of assigning texts with their authors and cites an AAUP statement that says, "The right of individual professors to select their own instructional materials, a right protected under principles of academic freedom, should be limited only by such considerations as quality, cost, availability and the need for coordination with other instructors or courses."
The AAUP's Greg Scholtz said keeping faculty in the dark early in the process was wrong. "If you don’t have the right process, you’re not going to get the right product, and we don’t believe that you can get a good decision-making product if you leave the faculty out of the equation," he said.
02.01.2018 | AAUP Looking into Rosenstein's Case
The AAUP is looking into the case of a University of Illinois professor accused of videotaping members of a pro-Chief Illiniwek group. The AAUP, which placed the UI on its "censure" list for two years because of the Steven Salaita case, wrote to Chancellor Robert Jones about his decision to place Professor Jay Rosenstein on paid administrative leave while the campus reviews the Jan. 22 incident. The letter suggests that the campus may have violated Rosenstein's right to academic due process and raised the prospect of future censure.
An associate professor and educational psychologist, Joshua A. Cuevas detailed his harrowing experiences in an essay for the AAUP's Academe online and in print. He said he’s been amazed at the number of fellow academics this week who contacted him to say, “Me, too.”
01.25.2018 | Wright State Faculty Rally for Better Contract
Wright State University’s faculty union is rallying this morning for a better contract with the school’s administration. Contract negotiations are expected to move into fact-finding at the end of the month. Rudy Fichtenbaum, AAUP President and Professor Emeritus of Economics, at WSU said that he will recommend to the AAUP-WSU’s executive committee to initiate a strike process in case the administration or the union reject a fact finder’s report.
The University of Texas at Austin became one of the most prestigious research institutions to join a faculty rebellion against Academic Analytics, a data company that promises to identify low-performing professors. The AAUP issued a statement in March 2016 urging extreme caution toward Academic Analytics. Among other issues, the AAUP said, "While such services promise ‘objective’ data about faculty productivity, some of the firm’s metrics lack any qualitative dimension."
Over the course of the last year, targeted online harassment of faculty has emerged as a significant threat to academic freedom. Fueled by websites such as Professor Watchlist, Campus Reform, and College Fix, campaigns of threats and harassment are directed against faculty members for what they are reported to have said in the classroom or posted on social media. The AAUP's Joerg Tiede points out efforts to silence faculty members who speak out on matters of race are not new and summarizes recent cases.
01.22.2018 | Drexel Professor Taken on as Visiting Scholar
Former Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher, who drew controversy last year for his tweets, has been taken on as a visiting scholar at NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. He resigned from Drexel on Dec. 31 after facing harassment for his online presence and being placed on administrative leave in early October for what Drexel described as security concerns. This response led some academic groups, such as the AAUP, to criticize Drexel’s condemnation.
A three-person committee with the AAUP will investigate whether or not the University of Nebraska-Lincoln violated the due process rights of a graduate student lecturer dismissed from her teaching duties in November. Joerg Tiede said, “Due process is tied to what kind of power someone has over you. We, as citizens of the United States, are entitled to due process when it comes to government prosecution. Faculty are entitled to due process when it comes to disciplinary actions against them.”
A Florida university posted campus police outside a sociology class titled "White Racism" after the professor was flooded with harassing emails and messages -- some of them openly racist. Thornhill's experience is not unusual. Last year, the AAUP documented more than 100 incidents of harassment targeting professors were reported on college campuses around the country.