A newly released AAUP investigating committee report concludes that administrators at National Louis University had no acceptable financial or educational justification for discontinuing fourteen academic programs, closing four departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, and terminating the appointments of at least sixty-three full-time faculty members, sixteen of them with continuous tenure.
The investigation, conducted in October and chaired by Professor Kerry E. Grant (Southern Connecticut State University), was authorized by the AAUP following complaints from NLU faculty members that the administration had discontinued departments and programs without first demonstrating the magnitude of the financial constraints facing the university and adequately consulting the faculty.
The investigating committee’s report focuses on the cases of three tenured professors whose positions were terminated. The subject of the first case was a biologist in the natural sciences department, one of the departments that was closed. The administration acknowledged that the university would continue to offer science courses as part of the general education curriculum and offered some of these courses to him to teach—provided that he did so at a reduced salary as an adjunct faculty member. (He declined the offer.)
The subject of the second case was chair of the natural sciences department. She told the investigating committee that no alternatives were discussed that would have allowed for retention of tenured natural sciences faculty, notwithstanding the fact that nine general education and upper-level science courses for students concentrating in biology or natural sciences would still be offered at NLU beyond the 2011–12 academic year.
The third subject was a professor who taught in the fine arts department, which had also been targeted for closure. She planned to continue beyond her terminal full-time year to teach courses on a contingent basis for approximately $2,000 per quarter, including general education courses that she had routinely taught as part of her normal workload as a tenured faculty member.
The investigating committee concluded that the administration, in terminating the appointments of more than sixty faculty members without having demonstrated cause for dismissal or a state of financial exigency, acted in violation of AAUP-supported principles and procedural standards. The committee further concluded that the role the administration afforded the faculty before, during, and after the decisions on program discontinuance and appointment termination was grossly inadequate. The committee was particularly struck by how quickly experienced members of the faculty, many of them with decades of service to the institution, had been replaced by a cadre of poorly paid contingent faculty members.
The AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure approved the publication of the report, and at its spring meeting it will formulate a statement on the NLU case that may recommend censure to the Association’s 2013 annual meeting in mid-June.
The full report is available on the AAUP’s website at http://www.aaup.org/report/academic-freedom-and-tenure-national-louis-university. For questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact Anita Levy.
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