AAUP Sanctions 6 Colleges Over Shared Governance Concerns

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The American Association of University Professors’ governing council voted Wednesday to add six separate institutions to its list of institutions sanctioned for alleged violations of shared governance. All the colleges were included in the AAUP’s recent report about shared governance and faculty rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are Canisius College, Keuka College and Medaille College, all in New York, and Marian University in Wisconsin, National University in California and Wittenberg University in Ohio. AAUP sanctions signal that the association has determined an administration or governing board violated widely accepted standards of college and university governance, as articulated in the group’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.

Most of the colleges listed said they disagreed with the findings in AAUP’s recent report and that they acted in the best interest of their institutions throughout the pandemic. Prior to 2020, AAUP members voted on censures and sanctions at the group’s annual meeting, but now they are imposed by a council vote.

The AAUP investigated Illinois Wesleyan University earlier this year as well, finding that it had closed four academic programs and terminated nine tenured faculty appointments with improper attention to shared governance during COVID-19. The university strongly disagreed with the AAUP’s characterization of its actions at the time. At this week’s AAUP meeting, the council delayed a vote on sanctioning the university until fall, citing an upcoming hearing for an affected faculty member there. The AAUP also investigated the University of Akron over layoffs of tenured faculty members. But the council sent back consideration for sanction to the AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance in light of a new memorandum of understanding between Akron and its faculty, coupled with the committee’s continued concern about new contract language that is similar to force majeure.

Also at its meeting this week, the council voted to remove Bastyr University from its list of institutions censured for violations of academic freedom and tenure. Bastyr was on list for over a decade, over the 2005 dismissal of three faculty members. The AAUP’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure recommended the removal of censure after Bastyr changed its dismissal procedures and apologized to the former faculty members.



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