AAUP Open Letter

As promised, the AAUP has published an open letter in today’s Wheel. The organization demands an independent review of the decision-making process, but has not taken an official position on the academic programs cut or merged. They do direct attention to the broader consequences of the cuts:

We ask, as well, that these committees give due consideration to the impact of the cuts and discontinuations on minority faculty and women; to their implications with regards to policies and practices put into effect over the past decade concerning the hiring, retention and promotion of lecture track faculty; to whether they presage a greater reliance on adjunct labor in teaching at Emory; and to the impact of the relocation of tenured faculty in affected departments on the work of those faculty…

The AAUP also wants to get the word out that graduate students can join the AAUP and increase the organization’s prominence on campus and on the web.

Unrelated to the cuts, but provocative nonetheless, is AAUP activist and College Writing Program director Marc Bousquet’s column in the Chronicle, Lady Academe and Labor-Market Segmentation. Bousquet reminds readers of the way the adjunct-ification of academic labor disproportionately affects women; the discrepancy in wages and job security is even starker when the data are broken down by race. For more on contingent hiring, “diversity,” and the departments most affected by the cuts, we refer you here and to Tressie MC’s blog.)

Finally, it’s worth keeping an eye on the AAUP’s draft of a new policy on colleges laying off tenured professors. Basically, they’re tweaking the definition of “financial crisis” that would justify layoffs (see also: “the new normal.”). At the Chronicle, Peter Schmidt notes, “The proposed change opens the door for colleges to lay off tenured faculty members in situations where the threat on the horizon is not bankruptcy but some lesser hazard, such as a decline in academic quality or in the college’s ability to serve students.”

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