Tag Archives: AAUP

Profs in cut departments file formal grievance

18 faculty members, all from departments that are being eliminated or downsized as a result of Dean Forman’s cuts last fall, have filed a formal grievance with Emory College. The complaint, which alleges numerous violations in CFAC’s handling of the cuts, was written in consultation with a prominent Atlanta lawyer. (One professor who signed the document told us that any administrator who glances at it will know that the signatories mean business.) It demands that Emory annul the cuts and “affirm the primacy of the [Emory] Bylaws” and the official principles governing faculty regulations.

You can view the original document here [PDF], courtesy of the Wheel.

The 18 signatories are David Armstrong and Sheila Tefft (journalism); Walter Reed, Angelika Bammer, Kevin Corrigan, Sander Gilman, Anna Grimshaw, Sean Meighoo, Catherine Nickerson and Kimberly Wallace-Sanders (ILA); Juliette Apkarian, Vera Proskurina and Elena Glazov-Corrigan (Russian/REALC); Samiran (Shomu) Banerjee (economics); Jason Francisco and Julia Kjelgaard (visual arts); and Robert Jensen and Carole Hahn (Division of Educational Studies).

Needless to say, the Grievance Committee has denied the signatories’ requests to repeal the cuts and affirm the university’s commitment to uphold its own bylaws. (The only request it did grant was to respond to the grievance during this semester.) English professor Sheila Cavanagh, writing on behalf of the ten-person committee, reportedly “finds no cause to pursue this matter further.”

Faculty members, including AAUP representatives, insist that the battle isn’t over.

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McAfee addresses the “facts”

Noëlle McAfee, professor of philosophy and an affiliate of WGSS, has written a very detailed blog post breaking down Emory’s public claims about the cuts. As she explains, the CFAC’s covert operations violated Emory’s bylaws concerning subcommittees’ accountability to the Governance Committee, flouted AAUP guidelines ensuring professors have a say in their college curricula, and even misrepresented former Provost Earl Lewis’s opinions regarding the whole process.

Thanks for your scrupulous research!

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Gov. Comm. continues to intimidate faculty

On December 12, the Faculty Council passed two motions: the first, initiated by Pamela Scully (WGSS), to reform faculty governance; the second, brought forth by Matthew Payne (History), to conduct a thorough review of the process leading to the cuts. You can read Dr. Payne’s very reasonable-sounding motion here (PDF). Each motion was subject to a vote and passed by a majority.

Now, the Governance Committee has resolved (with 66 signatures) to “vacate”–that is, annul–the second motion. They will be presenting this resolution at the next faculty meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23. In other words, the GC is directly intruding upon professors’ democratic decision-making process and their demands for transparency.

Stefan Lutz, professor of chemistry and chair of the Governance Committee (and one of the FFAC/CFAC “deciders”), has appointed an “expert parliamentarian” to run the meeting. Who is an expert parliamentarian? All we know is this individual has been hired by Emory to control who has the power to speak and, perhaps, decide whose remarks go on the official record. This is not third-party mediation and this will not be a fair vote. Indeed, the entire “parliamentary” procedure is a ruse to obscure the fact that the Governing Committee is trying to overturn a democratic motion made by the faculty.

The AAUP is encouraging all faculty members to attend the meeting on Jan. 23. The event is for faculty only, which means that any “intimidation” will proceed from the administration.

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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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A Letter to Emory from the AAUP’s National Body

Things might look grim tonight – especially since the administration has refused all further negotiations and reneged on its promise of an open town hall. But not only are the SRC and its constituents undaunted, there’s heartening news from the AAUP National’s Chapter. The whole document is extremely worth reading – but the last paragraph is the kicker. As Author Jennifer Nichols, the AAUP Associate Secretary writes:

“We share the Emory AAUP chapter’s concerns that adequate standards of academic governance have not been met in the administration’s actions to close programs. Further, we are troubled that long-serving faculty members appear not to have been afforded the due process protections that, under our standards, should be accorded those who have exceeded the maximum probationary period. We support the chapter’s call for a substantive faculty review of the process and resulting decisions and for the suspension of any implementation of the closures pending such a review.”

With the savvy folks at the AAUP crying foul on the cuts and adding their voices to the growing chorus of voices on campus demanding an investigation into the administration’s actions, can the administration really keep insisting on business is usual? One thing is for sure – Wagner, Forman, and Hauk can’t continue to credibly claim that those who object to the cuts are either simply underinformed or misguided.

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LGS Executive Council letter

The Executive Council of the Laney Graduate School, which consists of seven professors in the faculty of arts and sciences and two in the school of public health, has released a letter alleging foul play on behalf of Deans Forman and Tedesco. Specifically, they want to know why a 1995 document on governance, which ensured the Executive Council would have a say on any major curricular changes, seems to have been flouted.

Here’s the letter [PDF], which the Council has also delivered to the Wheel. Thanks to Prof. Barbara Ladd of the AAUP for disseminating this.

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Wagner: “Disruptively innovative”

President Wagner delivered his annual State of the University address to a packed room this afternoon. We bring you some highlights:

  • The state of the university is “goooood” (imagine the pitch dropping halfway through, with a tiny question mark at the end).
  • Campaign Emory is likely to hit its goal of raising $1.6 billion by December. We should also expect an announcement of an “anchor” donation for the next fundraising campaign. This one’s gonna fund really wild things like student financial aid.
  • Speaking of which, Oxford College no longer has a need-blind admissions policy. The Druid Hills campus stands by its policy of selecting students based on merit rather than their deep pockets, but the $84 million a year cost of financial aid is a burden. Everyone wants to reduce attrition rates and put scholarship money to better use.
  • As one of only 200 research universities among 4600 institutions of higher education in the U.S., and one of a smaller group of R1 schools, Emory represents a “tiny niche” in the education market, but an important one.
  • Gray Crouse, professor of biology and president of the Governing Committee, has advised Wagner that the old way of running research universities is economically unsustainable. Crouse warns that “most faculty are oblivious” to this fact. (Wonder if that includes the economists and education policy analysts?)
  • The economy will affect “the college experience at the most fundamental levels”: curriculum, teaching, promotion and tenure standards, lab management, the residential experience… We couldn’t tell you how any of these items will actually change.

Clearly, what we really need are “new income streams.” Apart from expanding our partnership with Georgia Tech, examples were scarce.

  • There is a new holding company called “Emory Innovations Inc.” Officially separate from the university, it will retain patents for things that would “support our revenue goals.”
  • Where business practices are concerned, we should learn from former Emory president Atticus Haygood, who said, “Let us stand by the good and let’s make it better.” Presumably, this only applies to investment portfolios.
  • Pres. Wagner has spoken to Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A, on two occasions, but he has not responded to letters on behalf of 9 GLBTQ student groups and GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association. He will “not stand in the way of Sodexo” (loaded words) if it chooses to change up the franchises on campus. Emory students seem to have been voting against the company with our wallets…
  • We need to “capitalize on our literary assets” and live up to that #1 ranking in USA Today without encouraging literary scholarship or creativity in other languages or connecting literature to other endeavors.

Thanks to a strong showing by the SRC and supporters, the cuts dominated the Q&A. Andrew Zonderman presented the SRC’s statement of demands and handed Wagner a list of prepared questions. To the question “Are you willing to work with us?” Wagner answered yes.

  • Katherine Bryant of neuroscience asked about the crises facing Emory’s reputation, capped off most recently with the threat of censure by the AAUP (“where we’ll join a long list of eminent peers inclunding the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the University of Dubuque, and North Idaho College”). Wagner responded, “Quite the contrary”: peer institutions have been commending Emory for its courageous leadership. He wasn’t too concerned with the AAUP statement insofar as it represented opinions from on campus. The only faculty who count teach at other universities.
  • Amber Jones of the DES wanted to compare the university’s rhetoric of diversity with its actions with regard to the compromised positions of African American and Latino/a undergraduates, graduate students and faculty (“we know that because that’s part of what we study”). They quarreled over the figures on minority students’ dropout rates. Asked how he justified cutting a division that has produced the highest proportion of black PhD graduates in the country for the last twenty years, Wagner replied, “Whatever rationale the deans have used, I’m sure they took that into account.”

According to Wagner, the faculty need to take more initiative in governing the institution and examining the status of the liberal arts.

  • Professor Kevin Corrigan of the ILA: “Why would you allow the effective dismemberment of the ILA before the committee on the liberal arts, headed by Provost Lewis, got down to business?” No definite answer, although Wagner was sure he had sent Corrigan a warning letter back in March.
  • Corrigan also asked if Wagner had a “real vision for the liberal arts.” Wagner had come prepared. A liberal arts education requires critical thinking, creativity, integrity: “I think we’re failing because we just emphasize the critical thinking part.” (Cf.) The liberal arts also requires an “authentic identity,” something that isn’t defined by an institutional tie–thus, Wagner says, the Goizueta Business School, the medical school and the law school are all liberal arts schools. (I always knew my humanities background made me a phony.)

I’ve compiled this from my own notes, and am happy to correct inaccuracies or omissions. @EmoryCuts and the Wheel are following the speech as well.

Tomorrow The next day, the zombies walked on Asbury Circle.

Edited to add: You can now watch Wagner’s speech–sans Q&A–on YouTube.

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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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Get your cringing muscles limbered

Evan Mah at the Wheel: Faculty Clash with Forman at Meeting.

An AAUP representative told the crowd to expect an official statement soon.

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