The Ross Case



The AAUP’s first investigation of dismissals of faculty members was at the University of Utah in 1915. However, two such investigations preceded the founding of the AAUP. Each of these investigations, that of the Edward Ross case at Stanford University in 1901 and of the John Mecklin case at Lafayette College in 1913, was led by a professor who played an active part in the founding and early activities of the Association. The former was chaired by E.R.A. Seligman and the latter by Arthur Lovejoy.

The Ross case is perhaps the most well-known historical academic freedom case. Edward Ross (1866-1951, pictured above), who had been recruited by President David Starr Jordan, first fell afoul of the only trustee of the university, Leland Stanford’s widow Jane, when he publicly supported the views of presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan in 1896. Advocating, like Bryan, for the monetization of silver, Ross’s activities fell within his area of professional competence as an economist. Although other faculty who had spoken publicly on behalf of Republican candidate William McKinley were not reprimanded, Jane Stanford asked for Ross to be dismissed over his support for Bryan. Continue reading

Please Stand with the Educators and Academic Professionals at Portland State University!

By a 94%-6% margin, the AAUP chapter at Portland State University has voted to strike on April 16 if substantive progress has not been made in their contract negotiations with their administration.

They ask that you show your support for that vote by signing this petition:

They were initially hoping to get at least 1,000 signatures on the petition. They have already surpassed that goal.

The chapter leadership feels very strongly that Portland State University is headed in the wrong direction. The faculty and academic professionals are fighting for a contract that will refocus the university on academic priorities and, in the process, contribute to the broader defense quality public higher education. Continue reading

Three Years Ago, Senate Bill 5 Was Signed into Law in Ohio

This is a post by John McNay, President of the Ohio Conference of AAUP and the author of Collective Bargaining and The Battle of Ohio: The Defeat of Senate Bill 5 and the Struggle to Defend the Middle Class (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) [].

Three years ago, on March 31, 2011, the Republican-dominated Ohio legislature passed Senate Bill 5 in the face of overwhelming public protests. That evening Gov. John Kasich had a celebratory signing ceremony covered by statewide television. Senate Bill 5, derived mainly from the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, was designed to crush public unions across the state.

Championed by Gov. Kasich, SB 5 was the centerpiece of his legislative agenda­, and was defended as necessary to close a $6 billion budget gap. Proponents inaccurately blamed public workers for the deficit when, in fact, it was produced by years of irresponsible income tax cuts imposed on the state combined with the recessions. Since 2005, the income tax had been slashed by 31 percent. The crisis atmosphere was exploited by the Republican Party to try to impose extreme ideological positions on Ohio that in ordinary times Ohioans would not accept. Continue reading

Major Attack on Academic Freedom in Michigan

In the Michigan Senate, the Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee included in its budget proposal a penalty against any public college or university that teaches a labor-related course or offers a labor-studies program.

Michigan State University has been considering an agreement to adopt a portion of programming from the National Labor College. A spokesperson for the university said in testimony before the subcommittee: “’We do also provide training for other groups, business groups, others on the other side of the aisle for how to work with unions on the management side. We also teach de-certification of unions as well.’”

Apparently the state senators found that testimony insufficiently reassuring, Continue reading

Ohio Higher Education Coalition Holds Press Conference on Student Debt

The Ohio Conference of AAUP (OCAAUP) has joined such groups as the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), New Faculty Majority (NFM), Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association (OPTFA), and Ohio Student Association (OSA) in forming a statewide advocacy group on issues related to higher education. After taking some time to create an operating structure and to define its goals, the group held its first press conference this past week. What follows is the news items that the OCAAUP is distributing to its members.


On Tuesday, March 4, the Ohio Higher Education Coalition (OHEC) held its first press conference announcing the formation of the coalition, highlighting student debt stories, and calling for restoration of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which gives need-based aid to lower income students.

OHEC Continue reading

Response of the PSC-CUNY Leadership to Today’s Judicial Decision on CUNY’s Pathways Resolution

Earlier today the PSC received the decision by Judge Anil Singh on CUNY’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit contesting the original Pathways resolution passed by the Board of Trustees in 2011. Judge Singh decided in favor of CUNY’s motion to dismiss.

We are disappointed in the decision, but we are fully prepared to appeal. We maintain that the initial Pathways resolution was passed in violation of the law and feel confident that our position will eventually be upheld.

Nothing in the legal decision changes the terrible impact Pathways is having on our students or the importance of our collective fight for a curriculum that offers a meaningful college education. The sustained commitment to academic quality by the faculty and staff has already forced the CUNY administration to implement significant changes in the Pathways structure, as announced in CUNY’s February 3 memo. And the New York City Council has signaled its interest in oversight on Pathways by convening a hearing on the subject, to be held tomorrow, February 25, at 10:00 at City Hall. The shift in terrain on Pathways is the result of faculty and staff organizing. Continue reading

Colorado Community College Equity Act Song and Video

I’ve enjoyed this video in support of legislation for equal compensation for all faculty in Colorado’s community colleges and asked colleague Don Eron to write about it. Don is a faculty member at UC Boulder, a member of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and a leader in the Colorado AAUP conference. Here’s what he says:

Here is a link to a You Tube video of the “official” Colorado HB14-1154 campaign song:

HB14-1154, the Community College Pay and Benefits Equity Act of 2014, will provide equal pay for equal work for Colorado community college faculty. Currently, many community college teachers in Colorado are on food stamps, qualify for indigent health care, and receive their food from food banks. Under the bill, all faculty will receive pay and benefits under one salary schedule. This AAUP legislation has been endorsed by AFT Colorado, SEIU Colorado, AAUW Colorado, the Colorado Education Association, 9 to 5, FRESC, and the New Faculty Majority. It passed through the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee on February 3, and will appear before the Appropriations Committee within the next few weeks.

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS), in opposing this bill, argues that HB14-1154 will result in a doubling of state appropriations, a 56% tuition hike, the closing of numerous campuses, and irreparably damage the quality of education offered by Colorado’s community colleges. However, the CCCS boasts an extraordinarily healthy financial profile. We expect to demonstrate that, through a judicious use of surpluses and by slowing the growth rate in areas less essential than instruction, HB14-1154 will not require additional state expenditures, the raiding of current reserves, tuition increases, or the closing of colleges, and it will not alter in any way the educational mission of the system.

We have a broken community college system that works wonderfully well for one stakeholder–the upper level administrators who make the budget decisions–but offers too many incentives for these administrators to create hardships for instructors and poor learning conditions for students. What HB14-1154 does is remove the CCCS’s overwhelming financial incentive to prevent part-time faculty from becoming full-time faculty.

The You Tube video linked above was a complete surprise–we know that “Anonymous” is an adjunct in the Colorado Community College System, but he prefers to remain hooded for the time being. “Adjunct: Equal Pay” is the best song/video I’ve ever seen or heard about adjunct labor. It also perfectly captures the grassroots ethos of the HB14-1154 campaign.

For more information on this legislation, please go to the Front Range Community College AAUP Chapter home page:

As AAUP Prepares to Celebrate Its Centennial, Is It Time for It to Develop Some International Reach?

In a recent op-ed piece on the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s Worldwide blog, Dzulkifli Abdul Razak responded to an article written by Nigel Thrift, vice chancellor of the University of Warwick. Thrift had argued for the creation of an international association of colleges and universities, suggesting that it would not only facilitate efforts to meet the common  challenges confronting institutions, but it would also promote higher education as a global resource in meeting broader socio-economic challenges.

Razak, the president of the International Association of Universities, pointed out that his organization already exists and is committed to the core aims delineated by Thrift. I am not sure whether Thrift’s apparent lack of awareness of Razak’s organization demonstrates his own limited perspective or the limited reach of the organization, or both. But, since I was also completely unaware of the International Association of Universities, I sense that the that organization either has considerably more work to do in becoming more truly representative and effective, or that it somehow is not meeting the need that both Thrift and Razak articulate very convincingly.

Coincidentally, as I have been collecting materials for this blog, I have become much more acutely aware that the challenges that we are facing as faculty at American institutions are not unique to our country—that those challenges are not only being confronted by faculty in nations around the globe but they are often complicated by socio-economic, political, and cultural factors that make them much more difficult and even hazardous to confront. Continue reading

Wright State’s New NTE Bargaining Unit Approves Its Initial Contract

The president of AAUP is also a very fine contract negotiator.

This is the article on the new contract written by Meagan Pant that appeared in the Dayton Daily News:

Nearly a year after voting to join a union, Wright State University full-time faculty not eligible for tenure have their first contract, which offers them raises, creates job security and sets typical workloads.

The American Association of University Professors announced Monday that the union and university had an agreement for the 180 faculty. Continue reading

Ohio Conference President, John McNay, Testifies before Ohio House’s Higher Education Reform Study Committee

On Monday, September 9, Ohio Conference AAUP President John McNay delivered testimony [full text provided below] to the Higher Education Reform Study Committee–a new standing committee started in the Ohio House of Representatives over the summer.

The committee has embarked on a “road show,” traveling all over the state to public and for-profit colleges to discuss a myriad of issues in higher education.

On September 9, the committee met at Columbus State Community College to address the topic of “Reducing the High Cost of Higher Education.”  “Faculty Workload” was a topic listed under that heading.

During his testimony, McNay explained, “The common assumption is that universities’ costs are so high due to the labor (e.g. faculty) that they have to employ…Yet the most recent data from the Integrated Post-Secondary Data System (IPEDS) reveals that between FY 2002 and FY 2011, Ohio’s institutions spent, on average, 29.5 percent of their operating budgets on total instructional compensation (e.g. salaries and benefits). Over the 10 year period, total instructional compensation declined by 3.9 percent.” Continue reading