Douglas Antola Crowe and the Exploitation of Full-Time Non-Tenure Track Faculty

BY PETER N. KIRSTEIN

The Bradley University AAUP chapter contacted the Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure on behalf of Professor Douglas Antola Crowe. He was a full-time non-tenure track instructor with twenty-seven years of service. He was recently non-reappointed without explanation, and fought courageously through various Bradley grievance procedures for reinstatement. He claimed he was denied academic freedom, and was a victim of age discrimination and retaliation.

The Bradley AAUP chapter and various grievance-committee members acted honourably and fairly in addressing his complaints. An interim president also was diligent in this matter. However, the sorry state of higher education in this country is exemplified when those on non-continuous appointments can be treated as chattel, as appendages of the machine, and cast aside as at-will employees. This is the neo-liberal game plan and as usual it’s the students who are the ultimate victims.

Illinois Committee A, which was the first to condemn the Steven Salaita firing from a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, received a helpful suggestion from Anita Levy, from the national AAUP DAFTG, when our report to President Gary Roberts did not receive a response. We sent a reminder letter as did the most impressive Bradley AAUP chapter which led to a belated presidential response. However, the president, despite repeated requests, has not informed Mr Crowe why he was proffered a terminal contract, and we hope a wider dissemination of this case will further inform the academy of the abuse of non-tenured faculty on so many campuses.

If other Conference Committee As would like to explore this dimension, let me know. kirstein@sxu.edu

Illinois Committee A proudly filed this report on behalf of Douglas Antola Crowe.

April 22, 2016

President Gary R. Roberts

Bradley University Swords Hall

1501 W Bradley Avenue

Peoria, Illinois   60625

Douglas Antola Crowe contacted Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors on Monday, April 11, 2016.  The purpose was to communicate a series of grievances and disputes with the administration. He included a panoply of documents dating back to 2012 that contains a series of complaints, grievances and allegations of academic freedom violation, age discrimination and retaliation from a variety of administrators.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University and his master’s from the University of Missouri. Mr. Crowe is currently a full-time non-tenure track instructor in the Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods. He teaches four sections of Quantitative Methods, 262 and 263. For twenty-seven years, Mr. Crowe has served the Bradley University community in a variety of capacities including assistant dean of international business programs, assistant to the dean for undergraduate programs, assistant professor and instructor. His performance, from what we have determined, has been unexceptionable, dedicated and highly productive. We have seen no formal complaints about his teaching or any aspect of his service to Bradley, other than Foster College of Business dean Darrell Radson’s alleged outburst of denunciation in 2013 at a faculty meeting, which was later the subject of an apology.

Committee A does note with approbation that Alan Galsky, vice president for student affairs and university Interim President Stan R. Liberty implemented several of the grievances that were sustained by the Grievance Committee and the Tenure, Promotion, and Dismissal committee. These ranged from name inclusion in a building directory and other formats, and the proffering of additional contracts over a period of several years. We find that Bradley’s procedures in dealing with those specific complaints are consistent with American Association of University Professors guidelines.

However, we are concerned about the lack of transparency concerning nonrenewal through issuance of a terminal contract for spring semester, 2016. The TP&D committee was disturbed by the lack of transparency in this matter and starkly noted that the process relative to contractual nonrenewal “has broken down.”.

Although the Faculty Handbook does not require that contingent faculty be provided a statement of reasons for a nonreappointment, there is a reasonable expectation that long-term serving contingent faculty such as Mr. Crowe, who first arrived at Bradley in 1980, would receive a statement of explication. The AAUP’s commitment to transparency for all faculty is a seminal principle of academic justice and due process as articulated in the Statement on Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Nonrenewal of Faculty Appointments (1989):

  1. Notice of Reasons

In the event of a decision not to renew an appointment, the faculty member should be informed of the decision in writing and, upon request, be advised of the reasons which contributed to that decision. The faculty member should also have the opportunity to request a reconsideration by the body or individual that made the decision.

In Standards for Notice of Nonreappointment (1964), there is an updated cautionary note that these standards must also apply to contingent full-time faculty such as Mr. Crowe: AAUP “considers all full-time faculty members holding renewable term appointments, whatever their title or status, to be entitled to notice of nonreappointment…We do not view it…equable, to deprive full-time “non-tenure-track” faculty of the safeguards that the standards for notice are intended to provide.

Mr. Crowe has repeatedly requested an explanation for the initial nonrenewal decision in 2015 that would terminate his appointment within the Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods. On February 3, 2016, he affirmed that he had requested in writing from Interim Provost Joan L. Sattler and Dean Darrell Radson an explanation for nonrenewal of his contract. He then sent a second letter to Dean Radson on March 15 seeking clarification of his nonreappointment. He informed you in a letter on February 25, 2016 that he received “NO RESPONSE” in obtaining from either of the above senior administrators an explanation for the decision of nonrenewal. [Emphasis in original] A contract, won through a grievance with the TP&D, was issued on January 6, but according to Mr. Crowe’s documents, this long-serving colleague did not receive any response for the latest decision to issue a terminal contract.

Your response, we respectfully suggest, was less than adequate. We are concerned about contract addenda that preclude possible appeal or reversal even by another president, governing board, or even a legal proceeding. You stated in your February 29, 2016 response that the contract issued in January 2016 included what is a virtual non-dispute clause in paragraph four:

By accepting this contract, your (sic) acknowledge that it is a terminal contract. No future contracts for your employment at Bradley University will be approved, and you may not rely on a proposal, recommendation, promise or statement by anyone to the contrary.

Mr. Crowe signed the contract; earning a livelihood for himself and his family is a compelling reason to accept continued employment especially under duress. However, no contract in academia should ban a possible grievance. A basic principle of civil liberties is the right to contest and seek redress. That right must not be suppressed a priori in contract addenda.

We cannot conclusively determine from the documentary record if Mr. Crowe is a victim of age discrimination or retaliation. His treatment, however, by several superiors, as contained in the documentary record, are disturbing. Indeed one of his grievances was approved in removing Interim Dean Robert Scott, Foster College of Business, from an evaluative or supervisory role. However, the AAUP in its Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure affords due process, and the right to challenge nonrenewal of an appointment for the reasons expressly raised by Instructor Crowe. Regulation 10 states:

  1. Complaints of Violation of Academic Freedom or of Discrimination in Nonreappointment

If a faculty member on probationary or other non­tenured appointment alleges that a decision against reappointment was based significantly on consider­ations that violate (a) academic freedom or (b) govern­ing policies on making appointments without prejudice with respect to race, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation, the allegation will be given preliminary consideration by the [insert name of committee], which will seek to settle the matter by informal methods…If the faculty member succeeds in establishing a prima facie case, it is incumbent upon those who made the decision against reappointment to come forward with evidence in support of their decision…

We note with interest that the TP&D Committee’s December 14, 2005 report indicated that Mr. Crowe’s courses were assigned to “a collection of lower paid part-time adjuncts…”  We understand that two sections of his Quantitative Methods course have been assigned to adjuncts for fall semester, 2016. The TP&D indeed speculated this may have resulted from age discrimination and suggested the administration seek legal advice. The AAUP Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, pending the results of this case, may strongly encourage that Mr. Crowe pursue age-discrimination relief from either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

We were pleased that the TP&D recommendation on the issuance of another contract was respected and adhered to:

(3) The committee recommends, but not unanimously, that Mr. Crowe should be given a contract for spring 2016 in the amount of $30,300, as in his fall 2015 contract and assigned an office and teaching duties, if any are appropriate. If there are no classes for him to teach, then he should be paid regardless.

However, this is not sufficient given the current nonrenewal circumstance. There are significant principles at stake here as described in the AAUP, On Full-Time Non-tenure-track Appointments (2014), “As the numbers of non-tenure-track faculty members increase, their (academic) freedom is placed in greater jeopardy. The contagion of insecurity restricts unorthodox thinking.” We are impressed that Mr. Crow has exercised what we normally encounter from tenure-track and tenured faculty: an effort to seek with dignity and professionalism, despite a term appointment, a measure of justice and transparency so he can pursue his teaching duties at Bradley.

Furthermore the TP&D in its December 14, 2005 letter to Interim President Liberty concluded that “it is clear that Mr. Crowe has been treated shabbily by the university…” We strongly concur and believe his treatment, as previously noted, is in violation of a series of AAUP policies and documents in the area of transparency when encountering a nonreappointment. Mr. Crowe’s summation of his grievance with the Tenure, Promotion, and Dismissal Committee on October 24, 2015, contains this request: “[I]n May, 2018, I would like to retire from Bradley University.” With twenty-seven years of excellent service to Bradley University, we, therefore, urge the following measure be taken:

1) That you request, given appropriate curricular and enrollment needs, that Joan L. Sattler, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, issue Mr. Crowe a contract through May, 2018, to teach Quantitative Methods in the Foster College of Business.

2) We urge, in the absence of such a contract proffer, that Mr. Crowe be given specific reasons why he was offered a terminal contract. In both your letters to Mr. Crowe, on February 29 and March 3, you indicated a disinclination to engage this issue, so that other units could deliberate these matters. In your second letter you stated, “this is no longer a matter of concern to me.” Yet you did not hesitate to quote contract addenda that were highly problematic in terms of due process and possible grievance-procedural rights.

Some of the administrative unit actions, as contained in this report, contravened AAUP standards on nonrenewal and nonreappointment. Given the seriousness of this situation, we respectfully request, as the chief officer of the university, you intervene in this matter, and extend Mr. Crow’s teaching position until his well-earned retirement in 2018.

We hope to hear from you and that you will correct any misstatements of facts in this letter. You are being sent a hard copy of this letter through the U. S. Postal Service.

Illinois AAUP Committee A members unanimously endorse this statement: Iymen Chehade, Columbia College Chicago, Robin Meade, Triton College, John K. Wilson, editor, Illinois Academe and co-editor, AAUP blog.

Sincerely,

Peter N. Kirstein, Ph.D.

Vice President, AAUP Illinois

Chair, Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure

Professor of History, Saint Xavier University

4 thoughts on “Douglas Antola Crowe and the Exploitation of Full-Time Non-Tenure Track Faculty

  1. If the professor’s courses have been assumed by one or more younger faculty members, it would appear reasonable to assume that age discrimination is in play, for a prima facie case is thereby established. To preserve his rights in this matter, the professor should file with the EEOC and/or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (the EEOC-affiliated FEPA) within all applicable time frames under the applicable laws (cf. https://www.eeoc.gov/field/chicago/fepa.cfm and the discussion below).

    Filing with either agency preserves rights under both state and Federal anti-discrimination statutes. However, the agency receiving the complaint generally conducts the investigation and makes the determination for both (although a formal adoption of the findings generally takes place in the non-investigating agency). If one has reason to suspect that either the state or federal investigation will be less than thorough, the professor should file with the other of the two agencies (cf. above link and https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/fepa.cfm).

    It is disconcerting to read that months have passed and the AAUP Chapter intends to let further time elapse after which it “may” recommend to the professor that he file charges with the EEOC and/or the Commission. There are several problems with this approach: the clock is running and the option to file with the EEOC has a shorter time frame for the filing than the state FEPA. Also, the FEPA is not the Illinois Commission but rather the Department (cf. first link above). Further, the deadline for filing with the EEOC is 180 days, 300 days if filing with the FEPA (Illinois Department of Human Rights) and the first deadline may have passed.

    It would appear that the AAUP does not sufficiently train the Chapters and Conferences in these matters, for the above letter appears somewhat muddled with respect to when the initial discrimination action took place and appears hesitant to even recommend to the professor that he file before the end of the statute of limitations period. Additionally, it should be noted that the remedies available under the state and federal statutes may not be the same, which is important as well as court action may be contemplated. For example, in New York State, the state anti-discrimination statute has no caps on damages awards resulting from court action while several of the federal statutes do have such caps. Lawyers cannot be trusted, unfortunately, to realize this and it is important for an organization like the AAUP to be diligent in pursuing accurate information for all aggrieved faculty members.

    • Thank you for your comment. I am pleased our report does indeed comport with your suggestion: Kindly see above “The AAUP Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, pending the results of this case, may strongly encourage that Mr. Crowe pursue age-discrimination relief from either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Illinois Human Rights Commission.”

      Indeed, Mr Crowe has counsel and is pursing various options.

      • “Pending the results of this case”– i.e. waiting further before filing — may prove fatal to respecting the applicable deadlines. It appears that the professor has already exhausted the EEOC statute of limitations and is left only with recourse to the FEPA for the dual-filing.

        While the professor has counsel, I have noted for the record that counsel is not always well-informed. I know of one case where counsel insisted on dropping the state claims as “redundant” when filing a Federal discrimination case, only to discover later how serious that error was. Further, the blog posting confuses the Illinois Commission with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. As the EEOC pages linked reveal, it is the Department which is the FEPA, not the Commission.

  2. Pingback: COCAL Updates | ACADEME BLOG

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don't impersonate a real person.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s