The Louisiana State Conference of
the AAUP held its annual meeting on Saturday, April 17, 2010 on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana
University in Hammond. The Conference expresses its
gratitude to the SLU chapter for hosting the meeting, including arranging an
excellent luncheon. Approximately thirty members attended, representing at
least seven institutions.
President Al Burstein opened the meeting by calling for reports from the
Prof. Brooks Ellwood, president of the Louisiana State University chapter,
reported on the two most important cases there, that of Prof. Ivor van Heerden, whose contract
was not renewed by the university subsequent to Prof. van Heerden's
critique of the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the failure of
flood-protection structures in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,
and who holds that he has de facto tenure and should be reinstated. His
case is currently being considered by the national office as potentially reason
for an investigation. To Prof. van Heerden's case has
been added that of Prof. Dominique Homberger, whose
test grades were changed and who was subsequently removed as the instructor of
a course because the administration believed that the grades were too low. The
chapter has requested that the national office include Dr. Homberger's
complaint in their consideration of an investigation, which the chapter
supports. A motion was made, seconded, and passed unanimously that the
Conference supports the position of the chapter.
Prof. Connie Rodriguez, president of the Loyola University
chapter, reported that she has been permitted to return to campus after having
been suspended last year. However, she also reported that another faculty
member has been put on "paid medical leave" by the administration,
apparently without having requested it. While the university's president has
told the University Senate that he is working with the AAUP to lift censure,
the national office reports only very limited contact from him and no
developments. It has been reported that two articles written by a student
reporter on the post-Katrina situation and AAUP censure have failed to appear
in the campus newspaper. Some of the legal cases of terminated faculty members
have been settled, while others continue to work their way through the courts.
In two noteworthy summary judgments, the judge has held that plaintiffs may sue
for non-pecuniary damages (e.g. loss of reputation, emotional distress)
and that the university president and provost may be sued personally. Finally,
in their appeal to the Board shortly after Katrina to reject the plan for
faculty terminations, the faculty predicted that the plan would have a negative
effect on both the number and the quality of student applications, a prediction
that appears to be coming true in the lower number of applicants and the full
quarter of the incoming class receiving conditional admission.
Prof. Linda Carroll, president of the Tulane University
chapter, reported that censure was lifted from Tulane by the national
association in November subsequent to the delegation in June by the body of the
annual meeting of its authority over the matter to Committee A. The reasons
include the conclusion of individual faculty cases and the insertion into the
Faculty Handbook of a new set of procedures for handling the declaration of
financial exigency and the designation of faculty to be discontinued that
comports with Association standards. Prof. Carroll reported that while the
relations between the faculty and the administration have improved, there is
room for further improvement and that there have been some specific cases of
the administration's treatment of faculty members that have raised concerns of
due process and of the administration's respect for the faculty role in shared
Prof. Joe Mirando, president of the Southeastern
at Hammond, was
unable to attend but sent a report that was summarized by chapter
Vice-President Katharine Kolb. Current faculty concerns center on the future of
budget cuts, specifically the efforts by the administration to declare
'financial exigency' in programs rather than the entire university and the
question of what role the faculty body will have in making decisions over
budgetary matters as they affect academic programs and faculty members.
Prof. Istvan Berkeley, president of the University of Louisiana
chapter, was also unable to attend but sent a report. The hard work of Prof.
Berkeley and his colleagues together with the presence at ULL of a provost, Dr.
Joseph Savoie, who is supportive of the AAUP (he has
twice received the Conference's Henry L. Mason Award, bestowed upon
administrators for their support of academic freedom and shared governance),
have resulted in impressive gains in membership. In recognition of this
achievement, the Conference awarded Prof. Berkeley with the J. Thomas Hamrick
Award for contributions to academic freedom. The award was accompanied by a
check for $250 for the chapter.
While there is currently no chapter at the University of New Orleans, it was
reported by a member that her faculty case remains from the post-Katrina
decisions, and that she listed on the university website as on "Leave of
Absence" despite the fact that the leave was imposed by the administration
rather than requested by the faculty member as specified in the Faculty
A report on the membership at Xavier University, which does not have a formal
chapter, was given by Nicole Greene, who states that the members are very
active and working on common issues with librarians.
Prof. Paul Bell, the Conference treasurer, submitted his report and requested
authorization to put non-checking funds into long-term certificates of deposit
of different maturation periods. A motion was made, seconded, and passed
unanimously authorizing him to do so. Prof. Bell and others noted that the
Conference should not have such a large amount of unexpended funds and
discussed the difficulty of finding projects toward which to disburse them. The
Conference has solicited proposals from chapters without a great response. In
the course of discussion the idea arose that the Conference, like the national
association, could dedicate some of its funds to creating a legal fund to
assist members in the numerous cases in which legal assistance is vital. A
motion was made, seconded, and passed unanimously to authorize the executive
committee to do so, with the provision that prudence be used so that funds not be expended too rapidly.
The slate of candidates for the coming two-year term that was
recommended by the nominating committee of Profs. Kathy Kolb of
Southeastern Louisiana University (chair), Charles Delzell of Louisiana State University,
and Istvan Berkeley of University of Louisiana at
Lafayette consisting of Bill Stewart, President (Southern University, New
Orleans); Michael Fontenot, Vice-President (Southern University, Baton Rouge);
Clayton Culver, Secretary (Southeastern Louisiana University); Paul Bell,
Russell Dawkins, At Large (Southern University, Baton Rouge); Alvin Burstein,
Past President (Southeastern Louisiana University); Ravi Rau (Louisiana State
University), Nicole Greene (Xavier University), Co-Chairs, Chapter Services.
Prof. Delzell thanked the outgoing members of the
executive committee for their service.
The meeting concluded with a motion to adjourn at 1:00 p.m.