St. Edwards University, TX
At issue in the St. Edwards University case is the summary dismissal of two tenured faculty members who were apparently fired for questioning the administration’s efforts to assert control over their department. Before launching an investigation, the AAUP communicated extensively with the administration, expressing our concern about the apparent lack of key elements of academic due process. We also stressed that academic freedom, as widely understood in American higher education, includes the right to express dissenting and critical views regarding one’s institution, its policies, and its administration. When the administration failed to address these concerns or provide the dismissed faculty members with proper due process, an investigation was authorized. We’ll share the results when the investigation is completed.
Maricopa Community Colleges
At Maricopa Community Colleges, we’re investigating apparent departures from widely adopted standards of academic governance. 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. Of particular concern is the governing board’s directive that the new manual, to be prepared unilaterally by the administration, may not allow faculty to participate in matters related to “compensation, benefits, accountability, and organizational operations.” Not only would such a change modify the structure and procedure for faculty participation, the resulting changes would themselves be at odds with principles of academic governance, which call for meaningful faculty participation in decisions that affect all of these areas.
Recent Investigative Reports
The report examines the UNL administration’s actions to suspend from her teaching responsibilities—initially, for stated safety concerns—a sixth-year doctoral student with a part-time appointment as lecturer for the 2017–18 academic year. The lecturer, Ms. Courtney Lawton, received threats after a video recording of her participation in a demonstration protesting an on-campus recruitment table for Turning Point USA was disseminated on the internet. The administration subsequently extended Ms. Lawton’s suspension through the end of her term of appointment, for stated reasons of misconduct but without affording her an appropriate hearing. Read the full report here.
This report looks at the administration of Spalding University termination of the appointment of tenured professor of social work Erlene Grise-Owens after she criticized the administration’s handling of an incident involving a student who brought a gun to a campus parking lot. The social work school’s chair immediately alerted social work faculty about the incident—except the school’s three faculty members of color, even though the student was scheduled to attend class with one of them the next day. Read the full report here.
Community College of Aurora
This report examines actions taken by the administration of the Community College of Aurora, during the fourth week of the fall 2016 semester, to terminate the appointment of part-time instructor of philosophy Nathanial Bork without affordance of academic due process. Mr. Bork was dismissed after conveying his intention to send to the college’s accreditor a report detailing his “deep concerns” about the college’s Gateway to Success initiative, which modified certain entry-level liberal arts courses in an effort to improve their pass rates. Read the full report here.
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