College defends itself against AAUP

Continuing the Emory tradition of making announcements on Fridays (waiting for classes to end?), Nancy Seideman has put out a press release announcing that Dean Forman is very, very disappointed in the AAUP’s recent letter denouncing the procedure behind the cuts (reprinted on this blog and on the local AAUP website). According to the press release, Forman “takes the concerns expressed by the AAUP ‘seriously’ and has met with leaders of the local AAUP chapter and is willing to continue to meet with its membership to discuss governance issues.” (We welcome confirmation from AAUP representatives on that account; his tone is certainly more generous than it was toward students).

Earlier this week, the College Governance Committee sent a letter responding to the AAUP (linked here [PDF]). Forman himself did not sign the letter. Gray Crouse, professor of biology and current president of the University Senate chair, was the primary author. The current and former chairs of the Governing Committee, chemistry professor Stefan Lutz and physics professor Eric Weeks, also signed.

The GovComm representatives argue that the creation and entrenchment of the FFAC/CFAC complied with the principles of government. “Your [AAUP’s] letter implied that CFAC was too small, but that is a subjective decision that you surely don’t have the standing to make.” The word “small” was indeed used to describe the FFAC, but the committee size was not one of the AAUP’s main grounds for criticizing it. Their objections (see the last paragraph of page 1) are only subjective if you consider verbatim transcription of the national AAUP policy on academic governance subjective. Edited to add (12/17): We should also note that Dr. Lutz was one of the original seven members of FFAC. Dr. Weeks joined shortly thereafter, and was personally responsible for reporting to the rest of the Governing Committee about CFAC’s doings while he was the GovCom chair. Thus they could claim formal accountability without actually being accountable. [1]

They make no mention of the second half of the AAUP’s recommendation, “the suspension of any implementation of the closures pending such a review” (i.e. of the decision-making process), nor do they address the organization’s concerns with granting long-standing lecture-track faculty due process before terminating them.

Crouse, Lutz and Weeks add: “It is surprising that you would identify those decisions as curricular rather than financial, because they were clearly made out of financial necessity.” That curricular-not-financial framing was posed by the college dean and president, to be retracted on occasions when it seemed expedient.[2]

Overall, their position seems to be that any road other than the one taken would have led to stagnation and anarchy.

“In closing your letter,” they conclude, “you write of upholding faculty governance, and yet you ignore the existing, elected, faculty governance in favor of a small group of faculty who have no standing within elected faculty governance.” We find this tremendously dismissive to the growing number of AAUP members on the faculty. And who’s calling whom small?

Edited to add:
[1] See the GovComm minutes of August 31, 2011 (PDF courtesy of the Wheel).

[2] For example, on page 2 of Dean Forman’s original letter announcing the cuts (PDF).

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