AAUP Investigation Results: The University of South Maine

From the Conclusions of the report, “Academic Freedom and Tenure: The University of South Maine” of May, 2015:

  1. In terminating the appointments of sixty of the 250 full-time faculty members and eliminating, reducing, or consolidating numerous academic programs, allegedly on financial grounds, the administration of the University of Southern Maine acted in flagrant violation of the joint 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and its requirement that when terminations are attributed to financial exigency, that condition must be demonstrably bona fide.
  2. The administration’s actions disregarded the major provisions of Regulations 4c (Financial Exigency) and 4d (Discontinuance of Program or Department for Educational Reasons) of the Association’s derivative Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, with the sole exception of the provision on severance salary, where the collective bargaining agreement required that tenured faculty members notified of retrenchment continue to be paid for a year and a half.
  3. The administration also acted in brazen disregard of key provisions of the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, despite reference to this fundamental document in the preambles to the governance constitution of USM. Moreover, the bylaws of the senate state that “the administrative officers of the university should consult with the faculty and rely on advice and assistance from the faculty in the performance of their administrative responsibilities, particularly where administrative officers are called upon to make decisions bearing directly on the central academic functions of the faculty.” In its pattern of confining its communications with the faculty on programmatic matters to announcement of accomplished fact, the administration has ignored not only AAUP-supported governance standards but also its own published statements. The program closures at USM are not merely matters of bookkeeping; they impinge on matters of curriculum and instruction, for which the faculty should always have primary responsibility. The administration’s ignoring the faculty senate, repeatedly and apparently deliberately, is at odds with generally accepted norms of academic governance in American higher education.

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