Posts Tagged ‘AAUP’

usm-budget

The American Association of University Professors voted overwhelmingly Saturday to censure the administration of the University of Southern Maine for the Draconian budget cuts it imposed this past year.

Summarizing an earlier report on the ongoing academic shakeup at Southern Maine, Committee A’s censure recommendation accused the university of disregarding both AAUP and its own policies regarding circumstances under which programs can be closed down. The university slashed four academic programs — several of which AAUP and local businesses argued were key to the area’s culture and economy — and eliminated more than 50 tenured and nontenured faculty positions without declaring financial exigency.

“Also striking was the fact that these programs were canceled in midyear and that no provisions were made for students remaining in the programs to complete their courses of study,” in violation of standards set by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the university’s accrediting body, Committee A said in its censure recommendation.

No one defended Southern Maine’s actions — which the university has attributed to its desire to become a “metropolitan university” and to significant budget cuts — and the motion passed nearly unanimously.

368574-20141117_USM_Walko2-1024x671

That, unfortunately, has been the question at the University of Southern Maine for the past two years.

Fortunately, after a long series of faculty and student protests against the administration’s attempts to engage in significant “eliminating, retrenching and/or reshaping academic programs” at the university, the American Association of University Professors has delivered a forceful rebuke to the stated rationale and procedures of the program cuts and faculty layoffs that have been imposed.

Among the investigating committee’s findings:

1. There is “no plausible reason to conclude that USM is facing a financial disaster—or significant financial distress of any kind.” In fact, the committee suggests the university should be expanding, not cutting, its academic programs and staff.

2. In making the program cuts and laying off faculty members, the university administration “ignored not only AAUP-supported governance standards but also its own published statements.”

The AAUP as a whole now has to consider the report and decide on whether or not to officially censure the university. Meanwhile, the faculty union has taken the university into binding arbitration.

According to Susan Feiner, President of the USM chapter of the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine union,

The USM Chapter of AFUM is distressed by the impact of administrative actions on students and public higher education in Maine. At USM, dozens of courses that were to be taught by full-time fully qualified professors were cancelled. As a result, students have been unable to enroll in courses needed for degree completion. We are concerned that the administrators have instituted piecemeal, arbitrary changes to program graduation requirements. Furthermore, we are worried about the educational consequences of doubling the permitted enrollments in some classes, effectively eliminating the ability of faculty to review writing and work individually with students.

In addition to the findings noted above the AAUP report notes that USM administrators repeatedly ignored faculty offers to work with the administration to help solve budgetary, revenue, and enrollment problems. . .

The USM Chapter of the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine (AFUM) welcomes this report. We agree with its findings. We note that many administration actions cited in the report also constitute violations of the faculty’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the University of Maine System.

Clearly, the battle over the fate of the University of Southern Maine is not over. But the AAUP’s investigation into the financial and governance issues surrounding the austerity measures imposed by the administration at Southern Maine will clearly resonate in many public colleges and universities across the country where similar attempts at “eliminating, retrenching and/or reshaping academic programs” are being enacted.

The findings of the AAUP point in a different direction: to opening up the books, creating and respecting forms of shared governance, and expanding academic opportunities for working-class students in public higher education.

usm1

Students and faculty continue to protest the layoffs and budget cuts at the University of Southern Maine.

You can read and sign a petition [ht: ja] supporting them here.

The American Association of University Professors has urged the university administration to rescind the notices of termination that have been issued. More recently, the Association’s executive director has reached the conclusion that “these actions at the University of Southern Maine have raised significant issues of academic freedom, tenure, and due process that are of basic concern to the academic community,” and has opened an investigation into the layoffs and budget cuts.

As WGBH explains,

Maine isn’t alone. As states defund public higher education, colleges and universities have made steep cuts while also increasing tuition and fees.

salaries-administrators

According to the American Association of University Professors, in Losing Focus, its latest annual report on the economic status of the profession,

Figure 2 compares thirty-five years of data on administrative salaries from the CUPA-HR Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey cited above with faculty salary data collected by the AAUP. It would have been preferable to disaggregate the analysis into more specific institutional categories, but that level of data on administrative salaries was not available. In the data from public institutions, the increases in median salary paid to four senior administrative positions were at least 39 percent after controlling for inflation, with the increase in presidential (“chief executive officer” in the parlance of the report) salary much greater at 75 percent. By contrast, and probably not surprising to regular readers of this report, the cumulative increases in mean salary for full-time faculty members were mostly less than half as great. The same pattern held in the private-independent sector, although the rates of increase for all positions there were larger. Median presidential salary jumped 171 percent above the rate of inflation, and the other three administrative salaries increased at least 97 percent, while the uptick in mean salaries for full-time faculty members reached only 50 percent or less. . .

As the longer-term analysis in figure 2 also shows, salaries for presidents in recent years have generally increased more rapidly than those of other administrators, reflecting greater concentration of authority in a single “CEO.”. . .But across all institutional categories, the average increases in administrative salaries are greater—in most cases, much greater—than those for full-time faculty members. The contrast is especially sharp at the private master’s degree universities, with senior administrators receiving double-digit increases while average faculty salaries stagnate or decline. . .

Some commentators have argued that the outsized and rapidly rising salaries paid to many presidents, especially, have only a trivial impact on institutional budgets that may amount to hundreds of millions (or even billions) of dollars annually. While that may be true from an accounting standpoint, the salaries paid to senior administrators are highly symbolic. As we have argued previously, they serve as a concrete indication of the priorities accorded to the various components of the institution by its governing board and campus leadership. Disproportionate salary increases at the top also reflect the abandonment of centuries-old models of shared campus governance, which have increasingly been replaced by more corporate managerial approaches that emphasize the “bottom line.”

 

Curtailing faculty speech

Posted: 10 November 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

20070503-free-speech-cartoon-via-citizen-arcane

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the American Association of University Professors has embarked on a campaign to protect academic freedom at public colleges in response to recent federal-court decisions seen as eroding faculty members’ speech rights. According to the AAUP,

The right of faculty members at public colleges and universities to speak freely without fear of retribution is endangered as never before.

The shift was triggered by a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in the case of Garcetti v. Ceballos, which held that government agencies can restrict statements their employees make in connection with their official duties. Several federal courts have since cited the ruling arguing that faculty members at public colleges and universities were not protected by the First Amendment in speaking out about matters related to their official duties. In other words, they were denied what the AAUP considers to be their rights as citizens of their academic institutions.

According to the AAUP report, since faculty members at public institutions are no longer able to available themselves of a constititutional right to free speech (which faculty at private institutions have never been able to do), they need to work toward appropriate policies within their institutions. The AAUP considers the policy adopted by the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents in June 2009 to be a model for other institutions:

Academic freedom is the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write without institutional discipline or restraint on matters of public concern as well as on matters related to professional duties and the functioning of the University. Academic responsibility implies the faithful performance of professional duties and obligations, the recognition of the demands of the scholarly enterprise, and the candor to make it clear that when one is speaking on matters of public interest, one is not speaking for the institution.

And, because I went back to read it over, here’s the statement on academic freedom from the Academic Articles at the private university where I work:

Freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression are safeguarded by the University. The rights and obligations of academic freedom take diverse forms for the faculty, the students, and the administration; in general, however, these freedoms derive from the nature of the academic life and accord with the objectives of the University as a community that pursues the highest scholarly standards, promotes intellectual and spiritual growth, maintains respect for individuals as persons, and lives in the tradition of Christian belief.

Specific principles of academic freedom supported at the University include: freedom to teach and to learn according to one’s obligation, vision, and training; freedom to publish the results of one’s study or research; and freedom to speak and write on public issues as a citizen.

Correlative obligations include: respectful allowance for the exercise of these freedoms by others; proper acknowledgment of contributions made by others to one’s work; preservation of the confidentiality necessary in personal, academic, and administrative deliberations; avoidance of using the University to advance personal opinion or commercial interest; and, in the course of one’s utterances, work, and other conduct, protection of the basic mission of the University.

Academic Freedom

Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors, has contributed a long article about the whole Neve Gordon affair.

The essence of his analysis and recommendation:

Indeed it has been clear from the outset, as [university president] Carmi openly acknowledged in an August 27th letter to Ben-Gurion faculty, that donor anger is a major factor in her attacks on Gordon. Inside Higher Ed reported that Amos Drory, Ben-Gurion’s vice president for external affairs, wrote to complaining donors to say “the university is currently exploring the legal options to take disciplinary action.” It is not the first time fund-raising priorities, not principle, have shaped administrative understandings of academic freedom, but that does not blunt the lesson that this represents one of the most severe threats to academic freedom.

Carmi’s own academic freedom, one may note, would have allowed her to reject Gordon’s views while asserting his right to hold them. That is, in effect, what Gordon recommended: “She has to cater to the people that provide the money, so a strong letter of condemnation of my views would have been fine with me. But there’s a difference between saying you disagree wit me, and threatening me.” Instead she mounted an international assault and sought to gut academic freedom in the process. While Gordon has job security, his vulnerability to myriad other forms of internal reprisal is obvious. There are many kinds of research support and institutional recognition that require administrative endorsement. More serious still is the message Carmi has sent to untenured and contingent faculty: exercise your academic freedom at your peril. The chilling effects at Ben-Gurion University have hardened into a deep freeze. There is reason for principled faculty to question the president’s ability to serve in her position.