AAUP Censures Northeastern Illinois University

At this morning’s 100th meeting of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the AAUP membership voted unanimously to censure Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) for denying tenure to John Boyle without adequate cause and in retaliation for his department’s involvement in criticizing the administration, violating academic freedom and due process. Illinois AAUP Committee A Chair Peter N. Kirstein told the AAUP assembly, “it is absolutely essential that such action be taken to defend AAUP principles.”

The AAUP’s report on NEIU found that the administration did not critique Boyle’s teaching, research, and service, but instead the administration accused him of violating collegiality by encouraging some students to minor in Linguistics.

The AAUP also voted to delegate authority to Committee A to remove Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, from the censure list once it completes promised improvements in protecting contingent faculty. LSU was placed on the censure list in 2012 after firing a contingent engineering professor who had criticized the US Army Corps of Engineers due to Hurricane Katrina, and removing a tenured professor from teaching a course for giving too many low grades. The engineering professor reached a settlement, LSU changed its grading policy to meet AAUP standards, the administrators responsible left LSU, and new president F. King Alexander moved to make changes to remove censure.

The AAUP’s Committee A also issued a statement, “On Partnerships with Foreign Governments: The Case of Confucius Institutes,” recommending that universities “cease their involvement in Confucius Institutes” unless “the university has unilateral control over all academic matters,” full academic freedom rights are provided for the teachers, and the agreement is made public.

The AAUP also voted to ratify changes to its membership dues in order to fund state conferences. When the AAUP adopted a new dues system that created progressive pricing based on academic salary a few years ago, it removed the special additional dues for state conferences that varied from state to state. To create a permanent solution to this problem, a dues increase of $9 for each advocacy (non-union) AAUP member will be used to fund state conferences. Some state conferences expressed concern that the inability to levy additional fees in their states will cause revenue shortfalls and require substantial expenditure cuts.

Total AAUP membership from May 1, 2013 to June 1, 2014 has grown substantially, from 46,137 to 48,849. However, advocacy (non-union) membership has fallen from 10,218 to 8,677, which at 23% of total AAUP membership is the lowest percentage in the AAUP’s history. Less than 5% of the AAUP’s advocacy members are part-timers, and less than 0.5% of advocacy members are graduate students.

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