From the Conclusions of the report, “Academic Freedom and Tenure: Felician College (New Jersey)”, May, 2015:
- In terminating the appointments of sixteen fulltime faculty members, seven of whom sought the Association’s assistance, the administration of Felician College attributed its action simply to “the exigency of the college’s financial status” without any further explanation. The administration’s action thus was in violation of the joint 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which provides that terminations based on financial exigency be “demonstrably bona fide.”
- The affected faculty members, with one known exception, had served well beyond the maximum probationary period permitted by the 1940 Statement and thus were entitled under that document to the procedural safeguards against involuntary termination that accrue with continuous tenure. The Felician College administration, insisting that its decisions on terminations were final and not subject to review, acted summarily and in virtually total disregard of the applicable AAUP supported procedures set forth in Regulation 4c (“Financial Exigency”) of the Association’s derivative Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
- In the exceptional case, that of a faculty member in his fourth year of probationary service and thus not entitled to the procedural protections of tenure under AAUP-recommended standards, the administration, in not providing him with an explanation of why he was selected for release, not providing adequate notice, and not affording opportunity for review, acted in disregard of the AAUP’s Statement on Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Nonrenewal of Faculty Appointments.
- A state of financial exigency as defined by the Association did not exist at Felician College. The only discernible reason for the administration’s terminating the appointments of approximately 15 percent of the full-time faculty was its dubious desire to “improve” the ratio between the full-time faculty and students enrolled.
- As to the climate for academic freedom at Felician College, the fear of faculty members to communicate with the investigative committee or to be seen by the administration as dissenters was palpable. Denying emeritus status to a top-notch teacher and productive scholar with a record of speaking out against what he found wrong was punitive and petty in the extreme. According to its faculty handbook, “Felician College affirms and is guided by the ideal that all faculty, full time or part time, are entitled to academic freedom as set forth in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.” Despite this affirmation, academic freedom at Felician College seems to have been in short supply before the current president took office. Now it barely exists.
- With respect to the faculty role in academic decision making, the forms of elected faculty governance exist with a couple of exceptions, but the administration has refused to involve or has avoided involving or even informing the faculty when important decisions were made, as the actions that occasioned this investigation illustrate.