American Association of University Professors
Academic Freedom for a Free Society
July 15, 2010
Dr. Tom Layzell
Commissioner of Higher Education
State of Louisiana
Dear Dr. Layzell,
Re: Proposal for Changes to University of Louisiana System Policies and Procedures (JMAURONER DRAFT 6/4/2010; 6/22/2010)
We wish to express, in the strongest possible terms, our objections to these proposals. They represent a repudiation of the faculty’s role in the governance of system campuses, a dilution of the meaning of financial exigency, and a trivialization of the meaning of academic tenure. These proposals are an assault on the conditions required for the academic freedom they, in Orwellian double-speak, purport to protect.
In Ch III Sec XI, the proposed striking out of Sec. K and insertion of “program discontinuance and/or reduction” in Sec. J (also in Sec. XV.C.2) is in fundamental conflict even with Sec. A’s own definition or of any accepted tenure practice in US universities. The proposed striking out of Sec. L.3 is a unilateral abrogation of contractual obligations. Similarly, simply by administrative action of striking out “Non” in Sec. XV.A’s first line, a policy that previously applied to Non-tenure track faculty is suddenly made to be for tenure-track faculty. In the light of these, Sec. M’s first paragraph on administrators getting tenure simply based on the supervisor’s recommendation with no faculty scrutiny makes a mockery of what tenure has meant in US universities for decades. It is not a protection of administrative positions but an institution designed to encourage academic freedom, research, teaching and scholarship.
Policy Number: FS-III.XV.B-1a with changes to a July 1, 2004 document, effective date shown as July 1, 2010, inserts by fiat “reduction and/or” into a policy that dealt with program discontinuance. Together with major striking out of portions of that policy, it fundamentally changes the nature of that policy. This is simply unacceptable to the faculty, both the change and the manner in which it has been enacted. This slipping in of a diametrically opposed policy under the guise of simple changes to a current policy with a change of date represents bad faith by the administration towards faculty of the University of Louisiana and is a slap in the face of all faculty throughout academia.
Non-reappointment of a faculty member is no longer based upon “work record and behavior,” but on review of “specific conditions relating to the position.” We note with concern the inconsistency between a reliance on unspecified conditions, the lack of provision for meaningful involvement of faculty in making such decisions, the weak due process provision for including faculty in review hearings for tenured faculty, in particular as regards the inclusion of faculty and the negation of the possibility of any review beyond the campus in cases of “financial exigency (and) program discontinuation or reduction.”
Ominously for those committed to educational quality, the basis of internally initiated proposals for program reduction or discontinuation are to be based on a vague litany of “educational need, strategic realignment, resource allocation, budget constraints, or combinations of educational strategies and financial considerations” and a requirement for formal review eliminated. There is the anemic provision that (our emphasis) to the extent possible, there shall be faculty participation in these informal considerations and only “reasonable effort” made to discuss proposals with “members of the department or program.”
The proposals notably fail to provide for regular review of tenure track faculty during the probationary period by their faculty colleagues while outrageously permitting administrators to award academic tenure to their fellow administrators without faculty review.
Taken as a whole, these proposals subvert the faculty’s role as the guardian of educational quality and not just undermine but overturn the guarantors of academic freedom: tenure and shared governance.
William F. Stewart, Ph. D. President, Louisiana Conference (for the Executive Committee)
CC: Randy Moffett, President, ULS Operating Board
Artis L. Terrell, Jr., Chair, Board of Regents
Bobby Jindal, Governor, State of Louisiana
Jordan Kurland, Associate General Secretary, AAUP