The 2019 Meeting of the North Carolina AAUP Conference

On October 4 and 5, the North Carolina State Conference of the AAUP held its annual meeting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rudy Fichtenbaum, President of the national AAUP, and Jasmine Banks, Executive Director of UnKoch My Campus, joined faculty from Appalachian State, UNC-Charlotte, Elon University, Shaw University, Duke University, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina Central University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. We had lively, productive, and inspiring discussions of intersecting national, state, and campus-specific challenges to academic freedom and of student and faculty resistance to on-going threats.

Rudy Fichtenbaum spoke on Friday night. As UNC-CH professor emerita, Sherryl Kleinman reported in her recent post on Academe Blog, Fichtenbaum emphasized:

 the importance of faculty organizing, whether public employees can [legally] engage in collective bargaining or not. Faculty should recognize threats to academic freedom and shared governance, acting in solidarity against those threats. We can create a “union” of tenure-track, tenured, and non-tenure-track faculty.

Kleinman also summarized the key questions raised by Banks’s Saturday morning presentation, which started by laying out the Koch Foundation’s long-term plan

to turn colleges and universities into the kinds of places that will make students true believers in free-market ideology. As Banks noted, the Kochs have learned to rebrand their efforts so as to hide their overall goal.

Banks’s talk brought to mind two questions. First, will faculty who take money from funders with a clear political agenda find themselves, even unconsciously, shaping their program in ways that keep the donor happy? If donors are displeased, they will stop supporting a program after the initial gift. Second, who would a faculty member or director not take money from? Everyone has a line they will not cross. Medical schools, for example, stopped taking money from the tobacco industry. As Jane Mayer wrote in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, the Kochs are among the major funders of climate change denial. Taking money from the Koch Foundation legitimates an organization that denies the major crisis of this historical moment.

Banks and conference attendees focused on two Koch-funded programs already established at UNC-Chapel Hill, a minor and certificate in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) and the Center for the Science of Moral Understanding. A Program for Public Discourse was just launched at UNC-Chapel Hill with seed money from a North Carolina donor, the Dowd Foundation, which is also funding a capitalism studies program at UNC-Charlotte. As Banks demonstrated, the justifications for such programs are strikingly similar to those presented by the Koch Foundation (see Frank Dowd’s op-ed in the Charlotte Observer) and offer more paths by which collective faculty control over the curriculum can be circumvented or coopted.

During the afternoon on October 5, a panel of faculty from Appalachian State and Elon University returned to many of Fichtenbaum’s points in their discussions of organizing for salary increases and administrative resistance. The presentations highlighted the importance of solidarity between tenure-track and non-tenure-track (contingent) faculty and of mobilizing public support for faculty.

The conference concluded by agreeing to launch this website/blog where we will periodically post North Carolina AAUP-related news and electing new state AAUP officers:

  • President: Michael Behrent, Appalachian State University
  • Vice President: Michael Frierson, UNC-Greensborough
  • Treasurer: Chet Dilday, Fayetteville State University
  • Secretary:  Richie Zweigenhaft, Guilford College.

Following this successful conference, the North Carolina AAUP looks forward to expanding and protecting academic freedom on campuses across the state.

by Karen M. Booth, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill and Secretary-Treasurer, UNC-CH Chapter of the AAUP.

Chapter Focus: Guilford College

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The Guilford College chapter of the AAUP came back to life in 2006 after a long hiatus, motivated primarily by a faculty reading group that had read Cary Nelson and Steven Watt’s Office Hours:  Activism and Change in the Academy, but also motivated by an administration that we thought capable of bad behavior (we were right — see https://www.aaup.org/article/curriculum-sale-0#.WvitSqQvyig).  Most years since 2006, we have chosen one issue to focus on.  Here is a summary (from our website) of some of the things we have addressed:

In 2006-2007, it was “best practices in tenure and promotion,” in 2007-2008, it was the treatment (and mistreatment) of contingent faculty, and in 2008-2009, the group paid special attention to faculty salaries, including how they compared with our peer institutions (not very well). In 2009-2010, we focused on gifts to the college that came with curricular strings attached. In 2010-2011, we returned to the issue of contingent faculty (and surveyed contingent faculty for a report that we wrote, the first of three such reports). Since then, we have revisited various of these issues, and, in 2012-2013 we sponsored some faculty-wide discussions focusing on visions for Guilford’s future. In addition to sponsoring larger, community-wide, forums, most semesters we have met once or twice per semester (sometimes at lunchtime, sometimes on Friday afternoons) and have brought in some off-campus speakers. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the focus has once again been on the treatment of contingent faculty. 

The report that came out during the 2017-2018 year is available here.  We disseminated it widely, to key administrators, to the members of key committees, and to all of the contingent faculty (many of whom had participated in the survey on which the empirical data are based).  This has led to some changes in the way we compensate contingent faculty (including, for example, when they receive their first pay checks after they begin teaching), and, we hope, greater awareness on the part of those who interact with contingent faculty (especially the Academic Dean and the department chairs who hire contingent faculty and hopefully provide an effective orientation to their new working environment).

(A news story on the Guilford Chapter report is available here).

A Report on AAUP’s 104th Meeting

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A Report on AAUP’s 104th Meeting

The following is a brief report on AAUP’s most recent national meeting, which I attended this past weekend. The 104th annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) met June 14-17 in Washington DC. The event consisted of several overlapping meetings: a gathering of the collective bargaining units, a conference on higher education, and the association’s official business meeting. I attended the latter two.

The theme of AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum’s remarks to the association was “endangered species”: in the current environment, the principles AAUP cares about—academic freedom, shared governance, and tenure itself—face a serious risk of extinction. In many ways, this was the conference’s leitmotif.

The panels I attended at the Friday higher education conference called attention to some of the ways in which privatization and corporatization are fast transforming our profession and threatening its current form. Representatives from the Indiana AAUP conference talked about the recent acquisition by Purdue, one of Indiana’s major public universities, of Kaplan University Online, a for-profit university with a history of predatory practices. The new “university”—now dubbed “Purdue Global”—was acquired in an underhanded manner, with virtually no faculty involvement. When AAUP members tried to speak out against the acquisition by delivering comments to the appropriate accrediting body, they were issued a “cease and desist” letter. Faculty do not know who is teaching at “Purdue Global” or what kinds of courses it is offering, even though its classes now count towards university credit.

I also heard about the tremendous work being doing by UnKoch My Campus, an organization formed by former students at George Mason University and Florida State University. After much stonewalling from George Mason’s administration, the organization was able to obtain some of the donor agreements regulating the privately-funded institutes that have been set up on their campus. They have also sued George Mason university and its fundraising operations for lack of transparency.

The intellectual and political background to the situation that George Mason exemplifies were examined by the plenary session speaker, historian Nancy Maclean of Duke University, the author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Recapping her book’s main arguments, Maclean explained how, beginning in the 1970s, University of Virginia economist James M. Buchanan allied with wealthy industrialist Charles Koch to formulate an ideology that equates the economy and property rights with “freedom” and government with “oppression.” On this foundation, they developed a covert plan to dismantle tax-funded public institutions and scale back many government regulations, while restricting democratic mechanisms that stood in the way of their efforts. According to Maclean, the dismantling of public schools and universities and the infiltration of institutions of higher learning by privately funded centers are crucial elements of this larger project, which is intended to culminate with a constitutional convention that many GOP-controlled legislatures have already authorized. Interestingly, several members of the Charles Koch Foundation and the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies were in attendance at the AAUP meeting.

Building on the work that AAUP has done this past year in North Carolina, notably our mobilization against the state’s “campus free speech” law, I presented a talk on the Goldwater Institute model bill that was the basis of this legislation. A brief interview I did for AAUP’s Facebook page is available here (scroll down a bit). If you have not done so already, I encourage you to read the report I cowrote with AAUP’s Government Relations Committee on the “campus free speech” movement.

The business meeting, which was held on Saturday, is the forum in which much of AAUP’s most important work gets done. One of its key tasks is to decide whether to place university administrations on the AAUP censure list. Administrations are placed on this list when they are found, after an investigation, to be in serious violation of academic freedom and shared governance, as defined in AAUP’s 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. At this year’s meeting, one institution was considered for censure: the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Hank Reichman, on behalf of AAUP’s Committee A for Academic Freedom and Tenure, presented the recommendation. In August of last year, a UNL graduate student and lecturer, Courtney Lawton, was involved in an altercation with an undergraduate from the conservative campus organization Turning Point USA. Although the university changed its story several times, Lawton was ultimately removed from teaching responsibilities and became the target of political attacks by the Nebraska legislature. AAUP decided to recommend UNL’s administration for censure after Committee A sent an investigative team to Lincoln. The full report can be read here. AAUP voted unanimously to place the University of Nebraska-Lincoln administration on the censure list. In other business, Stillman College was removed from the list, and the University of Iowa had a sanction relating to shared governance practices lifted.

An issue that currently has AAUP greatly preoccupied is the Janus vs. AFSCME case, which the Supreme Court will most likely decide in upcoming weeks. This case challenges the right of unions to charge fees of non-union members who belong to collective bargaining units and benefit from collective bargaining agreements—i.e., so-called “fair-share” or “union security” agreements. Given the court’s conservative majority, it seems likely that it will decide in favor of Janus—in other words, that it will declare fair-share agreements to be in violation of the First Amendment. AAUP opposes this position in principle (earlier this year, it filed an amicus brief defending fair-share agreements). If the conservative majority prevails, this decision will also result in significant loss of revenue for the association: currently, about 42,000 of AAUP’s 52,000 members nationally belong to collective bargaining chapters (as opposed to advocacy chapters). The association is already slowing down some spending to be able to absorb the anticipated financial hit.

All these concerns—privatization, political attacks, and the assault on labor rights—explain why AAUP president Fichtenbaum warned that academic freedom and shared governance are “endangered species.” But he ended with a positive—though sobering—message: we need to learn to act collectively. Just because many AAUP chapters are not collective bargaining units does not mean they cannot be “unions.” Unions, he reminded the membership, existed long before collective bargaining rights. If we do not act collectively to defend our rights and our profession, no one else will.

Michael C. Behrent

Acting AAUP chapter president, Appalachian State University

Vice President, NC Conference of the AAUP

Participate in UNC Faculty Rights Survey

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We encourage UNC System faculty to participate in a survey on the state of faculty grievance processes on your campus.

The survey, a project undertaken by Drs. Stella Anderson and Sandie Gravett, both of Appalachian State University, was sent to UNC faculty via email last week. The subject of the email is “UNC Faculty Rights Survey.”

Though this is an independent research project run entirely by Drs. Anderson and Gravett, the North Carolina State Conference supports their work. They present the rationale of their survey in a recent post published on AAUP’s national website, Academe Blog, entitled “Campus Grievance Hearing Procedures and Faculty Rights.” It is available here:

https://academeblog.org/2018/05/21/campus-grievance-hearing-procedures-and-faculty-rights/

As Drs. Anderson and Gravett explain in their post, their “project …  begins from the premise that a robust and functional process can offer clear evidence of institutional health by demonstrating a concern for the working conditions and essential freedoms necessary to a higher education faculty.”  This survey, they hope, will teach us more about the best ways to defend faculty employment rights in the 21st century, at a time when the traditional tenure-based model is under stress. A strong faculty grievance system is also critical to preserving a thriving system of shared governance.

The survey has been IRB-approved. In their email, Drs. Anderson and Gravett note:

– They are surveying all faculty within the UNC System.

– No questions will breach confidentiality requirements.

– This survey should take ten minutes of your time.

More about their project—which may also interest campuses that do not belong to the UNC system—is available at the project website here:

https://sites.google.com/appstate.edu/facultyrights/

You may also contact Drs. Anderson and Gravett via email at this address: facultyrights@appstate.edu

We encourage you to consider participating in this survey, and asking your colleagues to do the same.

News & Observer, other news sources cover Jay Smith’s op-ed on sports & academic freedom

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Jane Stancill opens her story in today’s News & Observer about Jay Smith’s Wall Street Journal op-ed by specifically calling attention to the problems with UNC’s grievance system, in ways that recall some of the frustrations that have been expressed about this issue at Appalachian. She writes:

“UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and the Board of Trustees have rejected a faculty grievance committee’s report concluding that senior administrators pressured the history department over the scheduling of a class that delved into UNC’s athletics scandal.

“Provost Bob Blouin and Folt rejected the faculty committee’s recommendations, and the trustees upheld Folt’s decision on March 29, according to documents obtained by The News & Observer.”

The story is available here:

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article210286749.html

Jay Smith’s Wall Street editorial was also taken up by AAUP’s Academe Blog:

https://academeblog.org/2018/05/01/jay-smith-challenges-inadequate-reforms-to-college-athletics/

And Progressive Pulse:

http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2018/05/01/in-wall-street-journal-op-ed-unc-prof-says-big-time-sports-are-undermining-academic-freedom/

UNC-Chapel Hill Professor: “How College Athletics Ate Academic Freedom”

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Source: Wall Street Journal

UNC-Chapel Hill History professor Jay Smith has published a powerful editorial in the Wall Street Journal (print version: May 1, 2018. Jay tells a chilling story of how university administrators attempted to suppress a course he teaches on college athletics.

Jay’s op-ed, entitled “How Sports Ate Academic Freedom,” is available here:

We encourage you to read the op-ed, share it with your friends and colleagues, and post it to social media. The op-ed could be an effective way to initiate conversations about AAUP’s principles. It would also make a good topic for a chapter meeting.

Jay shows how years after the University of North Carolina’s academic-athletics scandal, the state’s flagship university continues to let big sports interfere with the curriculum, academic freedom, and institutional integrity. In his op-ed, Jay explains how he developed and taught a course on athletics that was partially based on a book he co-authored on the scandal (Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports, Potomac, 2015, with Mary Willingham). Once administrators became aware of this course in 2017, they attempted to suppress it. While the course was eventually reinstated, Jay initiated a grievance against the administrators who, he contended, had violated his academic freedom. The grievance committee “decided unambiguously in [his] favor.” Yet UNC-Chapel Hill’s administration simply rejected the faculty committee’s findings.

The lessons of Jay’s experiences are sobering. He concludes: “At UNC, the power of big-money sports led administrators to defend the legitimacy of fake classes that had no professor. It then led them to wage an all-out war against a real class that asked common-sense questions about sports in institutions of higher learning.”

The North Carolina Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) supports Jay’s position. This incident is troubling for three reasons:

1. Significant evidence (corroborated by the faculty grievance committee) suggests that university administrators intervened specifically for the purpose of quashing a class that had been approved according to regular university procedures. The fact that the class was reinstated when these administrative actions were exposed does nothing to alter this disturbing fact.

2. The university administration rejected the findings of the faculty grievance committee. While they were within their rights to do so, this dismissive attitude undermines due process and administrative accountability.

3. Lucrative athletic programs and the university administrators who support them have become such powerful forces on university campuses that they are in a position to undermine the academic integrity of university programs.

Please share and circulate Jay’s article. Academic freedom and shared governance are central to AAUP’s values. We need to stand with our colleagues any time they are violated.

AAUP Report: Campus Free-Speech Legislation: History, Progress, and Problems

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AAUP has released a detailed report on “Campus Free Speech” legislation, of the kind that North Carolina’s legislature adopted in summer 2017 and is now imposed on University of North Carolina campuses.

The report begins:

“Claiming that free speech is “dying” on American campuses, a conservative think tank has led an effort to push states to adopt a model bill that, in the name of defending campus free speech, risks undermining it. This report seeks to understand the context and content of the “campus free-speech” movement, to track its influence within state legislatures, and to draw some conclusions concerning the best ways to respond to it.”

The full report is available here:

Grant Opportunities for Faculty Under Attack

Grant money is now available through National AAUP when individual faculty need financial support when seeking legal advice.

Below is a message from Henry Reichman, Chair of AAUP.

Faculty, even those with tenure, are feeling vulnerable these days. Increasingly under attack—from legislators who want to abolish tenure or withhold funding for controversial courses, from overzealous governing boards, and even from students who might accuse them of radicalism on the Professor Watchlist website—faculty sometimes feel compelled to self-censor or to change the way they teach. The time is now to stand up for academic freedom and the importance of higher education in a free and democratic society.

Through our grant programs, the AAUP Foundation supports individual faculty members who need legal or financial assistance after being terminated without due process. Foundation grants also support faculty engagement in shared governance, academic conferences, and other professional opportunities and provide critical funding for the AAUP’s work on academic freedom and faculty governance, costs that membership dues alone cannot cover.

Learn about the AAUP Foundation’s grant funds and guidelines.

A recent Academic Freedom Fund grant provided replacement income for part-time instructor of philosophy Nathanial Bork, who was summarily dismissed by the Community College of Aurora after saying he would send a report to the college’s accreditor criticizing its new Gateway to Success curriculum. Mr. Bork claimed that new requirements to lower standards in “gatekeeper” courses necessary for transferring to four-year institutions would inadequately prepare students for college-level work. His dismissal was the subject of an investigation by the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which receives funding from the AAUP Foundation for investigations and reports. Delegates at the 2017 AAUP Annual Meeting will vote on whether or not to add the Community College of Aurora to the AAUP’s list of censured institutions.

Apply for the next round of AAUP Foundation grants by June 30.

The AAUP Foundation Legal Defense Fund supports faculty members in cases at the trial and appellate levels that implicate important legal rights, involve legal issues of national significance in higher education, and affect the careers of academics. Grant recipient Robin Meade—dismissed by Moraine Valley Community College after sending a letter criticizing the college’s treatment of adjunct faculty—won a settlement that affirmed the free speech rights of contingent faculty. And a New York Supreme Court ruling allowed grant recipients Marie Monaco and Herbert Samuels to continue their case challenging New York University Medical School’s salary reduction policy, used to slash their salaries after their net grant income declined due to loss of research data in Superstorm Sandy. Such legal victories make a difference for the academic profession as well as for individual faculty.

The AAUP Foundation also supports educational programs that advance the cause of academic freedom. We recently awarded a grant to Scholars at Risk—an international network that protects scholars and promotes academic freedom—for its Scholar Transition Program, which will provide training for higher education professionals who are the victims of external political upheaval. Academic freedom must not be subject to the whims of those in power—whether abroad or in this country.

Best regards,
Henry Reichman,
Chair, AAUP Foundation

2016 NC AAUP Conference (October 14th and 15th)

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Tsimmons at English Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons


Dear Members of the North Carolina Conference of the American Association of University Professors,

I hope you are all having a wonderful day!

On behalf of Dr. Jim Carmichael, President of the NC AAUP, I cordially invite you to attend our 2016 Conference Meeting at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. Dr Jo Allen, President of Meredith College, will hold a reception for the conference at her campus residence on Friday, October 14 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm. Conference activities formally begin on Saturday, October 15 with registration, coffee, and continental breakfast from 8:00 AM. The program begins at 9:00. Our keynote speaker, Samuel J Dunietz , Research and Policy Analyst at AAUP National, will conduct a workshop on Political Mobilizing for NC Higher Education (A Non-Union State).  After lunch, we will have a short business meeting including elections followed by a discussion on how to apply what we have learned into an action plan for NCAAUP.

We hope that you will be able to attend the various facets of the conference and join us in discussion over organizing efforts to promote NC higher education policies. Whether you are a faculty member affiliated with a public or private institution, non-tenure track faculty or teaching graduate student, we invite you to attend and give voice to your interests, ideas, and concerns with the welfare of the professorate.

Attached to this post is an itinerary of the conference with specific times and an RSVP form indicating which parts you will be able to attend. Please return the completed form to Chase Hanes at cthanes@uncg.edu by October 3rd, 2016. Also attached are two maps of Meredith College with pertinent buildings circled and a more detailed display of Massey House.

We look forward to seeing you at the NC AAUP 2016 Conference!

Sincerely,
Chase Hanes

on behalf of Dr. Jim Carmichael

James V. Carmichael, Jr.
Professor
Department of Library and Information Studies
447 School of Education Building
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, NC 27412