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.

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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: