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Officers, 2008-09: President
Ann J. Gellis (Law) Treasurer
Julie Bobay (Library)

Open letter to IUB Faculty

The Threats

In the 1990s research universities have become the targets of financial downsizing, political attacks, and general public skepticism about their enterprise. Trustees at Minnesota tried to eliminate tenure. A private company sued a faculty member at Cornell for defamation based on statements that she made before Congress about her research. Over the last twenty years the City University of New York has cut from the number of full-time faculty from 15,000 to 5,500. Brigham Young fired a faculty member on grounds that she prayed not only to God the Father but also God the Mother. These particular conflicts have erupted amidst broader efforts to curb faculty autonomy by instituting post-tenure review, downsizing departments and schools, replacing full time faculty with part-timers, and even monitoring the use of e-mail. Developments like these threaten all research university faculty now and graduate students in the future.

IU has not been immune to these struggles. The trustees tried to impose post-tenure review on the faculty. Regional campuses are hiring more and more part-time faculty. Last year's presidential review followed principles laid down by the Associate of Governing Boards that seek to limit the role of faculty in university governance. The impending changes in senior campus administrators signal a need for increased vigilance in preserving AAUP principles of academic freedom and faculty voice in governance. And every year the Kinsey Institute is attacked and its research mission threatened.

Defending Faculty

Despite declining membership the AAUP has actively and effectively protected the interests of faculty at research universities. It has continually monitored academic freedom at campuses and used its sanction list to publicize institutional violators. It has prepared reports on critical issues from campus fiscal policies and the status of non-tenure track appointments to post-tenure review and the implications of electronic communication for academic freedom. Many of these reports are published in the association's journal, Academe, which is distributed widely. And AAUP staffers regularly and successfully lobby state and national legislators on behalf of faculty interests and file briefs in support of besieged faculty members. On some campuses it has even become a bargaining unit for faculty. Shortly the AAUP will release the first comprehensive statement of graduate student rights.

One of the oldest local chapters in the nation, the IUB chapter of AAUP has for decades provided a campus-wide voice advocating the interests of all faculty. During the past few years the local chapter has spurred debate and policy changes on clinical faculty, health benefits, and post-tenure review to ensure that university policies are in accord with basic AAUP principles. Through its Committee A the chapter has intervened on countless occasions to protect the rights of faculty members. These interventions have included aiding faculty in a department taken over by administrators of the College and defending the rights of a tenured faculty member threatened with disciplinary action for refusing to teach a course via distance learning for pedagogical reasons. And the chapter is now defending the due process rights of an Associate Instructor terminated without a hearing. The IUB AAUP has also sponsored forums on critical questions facing all faculty: the corporatization of the university, faculty reviews, and balancing teaching and research. And its services continue to expand. Last year the chapter established the Jim Christoph Fund for Academic Freedom. This year through the state AAUP the chapter has introduced a legal services plan that provides qualified attorneys for members at reduced rates.


Faculty at IU and at other research universities cannot possibly resist or prevent the erosion of academic freedom and faculty autonomy on their own, department by department, school by school, or campus by campus. We need a local and national organization devoted to the preservation of academic freedom in all its forms from the right to design our own curricula and conduct research to the right to comment on public issues and disagree with university administrators in our published work, on the street, and on the internet. We need the AAUP. So join us in AAUP to preserve due process and free speech in the classroom, to preserve a strong faculty voice in university governance, and to protect this generation of scholars and those to come.


Moya Andrews, Bob Arnove, David Austin, Ben Brabson, Ann Bristow, Jim Capshew, Paul Eisenberg, Laura Ginger, Don Gray, Ed Greenebaum, Dan Maki, Ted Miller, Roger Newton, Norm Overly, Al Ruesink, Myrtle Scott, Sarita Soni, Herman Wells

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