Open Letter From University of Nebraska Faculty

POSTED BY HANK REICHMAN

Below is the text of an open letter signed by 135 members of the University of Nebraska faculty expressing concern that “decisions involving the future of the University are being made without transparency or proper governance and under improper exertions of influence by the legislative and executive branches of the state government.”  Additional signatures are being sought from members of the university faculty. These will be accepted until Monday, December 4th at 5:00 pm. On Tuesday, December 5th, the letter will be presented to the Board of Regents. UN faculty members who wish to sign the letter should contact either Stephen Ramsay at sramsay@protonmail.com or Julia Schleck at julia.schleck@protonmail.com). 

The letter was prompted by actions taken by state politicians following a September incident in which Courtney Lawton, a sixth-year doctoral student with a part-time appointment as a lecturer in the English department, was suspended for protesting the presence on campus of a recruitment table for Turning Point USA, an extreme, right-wing organization that maintains the Professor Watchlist website. The administration initially cited “security reasons” for the suspension and gave the lecturer a letter of reprimand. This month she was informed that she will remain on suspension until the end of the academic year. Yesterday the national AAUP sent a letter to University of Nebraska administrators regarding the case. The Association’s letter notes that the administration’s November 20 public statement announcing extension of the suspension “makes evident that Ms. Lawton’s continued suspension is being imposed as a disciplinary sanction rather than as a means of preserving her safety and that of her students.”  As the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, issued by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities, states, “a suspension which is not followed by either reinstatement or the opportunity for a hearing is in effect a summary dismissal in violation of academic due process.” The letter further states, “In addition to the evident procedural issues, we remain concerned that Ms. Lawton was suspended in response to her speech as a citizen, raising questions whether the action infringed upon her academic freedom. These questions remain unresolved in the absence of affordance to Ms. Lawton of any academic due process.”  The full letter from national AAUP may be found here.  A previous letter from September may be found here

An Open Letter from University of Nebraska Faculty on Recent Attacks on Our Institution

To the University of Nebraska Community:

We are concerned that at the highest levels of the University of Nebraska system, decisions involving the future of the University are being made without transparency or proper governance and under improper exertions of influence by the legislative and executive branches of the state government. We fear that financial hostage-taking by members of the state government will result in changes by the administration in the intellectual offerings of the University and opportunities for our students. We believe it is imperative to express our alarm now, before irrevocable damage is done to the mission of the university and the value it contributes to the state of Nebraska. We insist that no radical changes be undertaken in the administration, academic programs, allocation of funds, or support for campus initiatives without appropriate faculty governance, transparency, and respect for academic freedom, which are core values of a healthy university.

Members of the state legislature strongly tied to Governor Pete Ricketts, including senators Steve Halloran, Steve Erdman, and Tom Brewer, along with staff of anti-public-education nonprofits affiliated with Governor Ricketts, such as School Choice Lincoln, have leveraged a single campus interaction into a sustained attack on the University that has greatly surpassed the scope and import of the initial incident. These senators have called for an end to tenure, demanded further budget cuts, and have written a letter censuring the mission statement and curriculum of the Department of English. A number of that department’s faculty have since been aggressively targeted by sweeping open records requests made by the Governor’s allies, including a request that they turn over private email addresses and emails between the chair and faculty members who have publicly criticized members of the state government.

Under the pretense that the University is unsafe for conservative students, the Governor and his surrogates are opening the door to ideological intervention at the University from outside entities. Their lack of consistency in protecting and respecting students’ political views, particularly those that diverge from their own, reveals the political nature of this manufactured crisis. In contrast, we reaffirm what has always been our educational mission: helping students to understand a wide variety of ideas and viewpoints through the many classes they take, with the goal of producing informed citizens capable of making thoughtful independent decisions about how best to govern our society. We insist that this mission be respected and that the alarming politicized interventions in the work of the university be condemned and resisted, rather than validated by our administration.

Any ideological interference in university business from members of the state government will be a major blow to the University of Nebraska. It will diminish our reputation among our peer institutions in the Big Ten and have a detrimental impact on our ability to attract and retain world-class faculty, as well as to recruit and retain minoritized and underrepresented students, who will rightly fear that initiatives to welcome them and address their unique needs on campus will be characterized as hostile to the agenda of the overreaching state government.

We, the undersigned, expect our administration to stand for the values of the University of Nebraska, a large community of diverse people with diverse viewpoints, and the most significant institutional asset to the state of Nebraska. We understand this community as being committed to the pursuit of truth (wherever it may lead), to the inherent value of open discussion, and to the fundamental values of democracy and free expression. If the Governor or his surrogates in the legislature interfere with the intellectual freedom of the faculty, one of the state’s most precious resources will be squandered in a political power grab, as the quality of work at our university and the value of a degree from the University of Nebraska will quickly decline. We insist that all levels of the administration respect the governance structures currently in place, and categorically reject political interference in the good work being done at our state’s flagship institution.

1. Dr. Julia Schleck
AAUP Nebraska State Conference President
Associate Professor, Department of English

2. Dr. Stephen Ramsay
Committee A Chair, AAUP University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chapter
Susan J. Rosowski Associate University Professor, Department of English
Fellow, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

3. Dr. Amanda Gailey
Associate Professor, Department of English
Fellow, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

4. Prof. Timothy Schaffert
Susan J. Roswoski Associate University Professor, Department of English
Director of Creative Writing

5. Dr. Ari Kohen
Associate Professor of Political Science and Schlesinger Professor of Social Justice

6. Dr. Thomas Lynch
Professor, Department of English

7. Dr. Christina Brantner
Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures
Former Director of Women’s Studies

8. Dr. Peter J. Capuano
Associate Professor of English
Director, Nineteenth-Century Studies Program

9. Dr. Thomas C. Gannon
Associate Professor of English and Ethnic Studies
Ethnic Studies Academic Advisor
Native American Studies Liaison

10. Dr. Stephen M. Buhler
Aaron Douglas Professor of English

11. Dr. Patrick D. Jones
Associate Professor, Department of History and Institute for Ethnic Studies
Recipient of 2015 James A. Lake Academic Freedom Award

12. Prof. Mo Neal
Associate Professor Emerita
Department of Art and Art History

13. Grace Bauer
Professor, Department of English

14. Dr. John R. Bender
Professor of News-Editorial
College of Journalism and Mass Communications

15. Jeffrey L. Day, AIA
Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Director of the Architecture Program 2012-2017

16. Dr. Melissa J. Homestead
Professor of English
Program Faculty in Women’s & Gender Studies

17. Dr. Frances W. Kaye
Professor, Department of English

18. Dr. John Janovy, Jr.
Professor Emeritus, Biological Sciences

19. Dr. L. Janelle Dance
Associate Professor of Sociology and Ethnic Studies
Associate Director of the Institute for Ethnic Studies

20. Dr. Gerard S. Harbison
Professor of Chemistry
Former Chair of Academic Planning Committee

21. Dr. Jeannette Eileen Jones
Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies

22. Dr. Emily Kazyak
Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies

23. Dr. Andrea Bolland
Associate Professor, School of Art, Art History & Design

24. Dr. David Moshman
Professor Emeritus of Educational Psychology
1997 recipient of James A. Lake Academic Freedom Award

25. Dr. Barbara DiBernard
Emerita, Professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies

26. Dr. George E. Wolf
Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of English
Recipient of 2002 James A. Lake Academic Freedom Award

27. Dr. Jennifer McKitrick
Professor and Department Chair, Department of Philosophy

28. Dr. Stacey Waite
Associate Professor of English and Director of Composition

29. Dr. Amelia M.L. Montes
Associate Professor, Department of English and Institute for Ethnic Studies
2017/2018 Fulbright Scholar

30. Dr. Kelly Stage
Associate Professor of English
Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies

31. Dr. Craig J. Eckhardt
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

32. Gregory E. Rutledge, Ph.D., J.D./M.A.M.C.
Associate Professor, Dept. of English and Institute for Ethnic Studies

33. Dr. Sitaram Jaswal
Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics & Astronomy

34. Dr. Khalid Sayood
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

35. Dr. Bob Haller
Emeritus Professor of English
Four-time UNL AAUP President
Founding President of the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska

36. Dr. Edmund T. Hamann
Professor, Dept. of Teaching, Learning, & Teacher Education

37. Dr. Miles Bryant
Emeritus Professor of Educational Administration

38. Dr. Jack Vespa
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of English

39. Dr. Paul Olson
Kate Foster Prof. of English emeritus, Department of English

40. Dr. Stephen Hilliard
Professor Emeritus, Department of English

41. Dr. Joy S. Ritchie
Emerita Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies

42. Dr. Alice Kang
Associate Professor of Political Science and Ethnic Studies

43. Dr. Alison G. Stewart
Hixson-Lied Professor of Art History
School of Art, Art History & Design

44. Dr. Guy Trainin
Professor of Education, Department of Teaching, Learning, & Teacher Education

45. Dr. Linda Ray Pratt
Professor Emeritus of English
National President, AAUP 1992-94
1994 recipient of James A. Lake Academic Freedom Award

46. Elizabeth Ingraham
Associate Professor, School of Art, Art History, and Design

47. Dr. Thomas M. Carr, Jr.
Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages

48. Dr. Laurie Thomas Lee
Professor, Broadcasting
College of Journalism and Mass Communications
2013 recipient of James A. Lake Academic Freedom Award

49. Dr. Vicki Schlegel
Associate Professor
Department of Food Science and Technology

50. Dr. Michael W. Hoffman
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Former Chair of Academic Planning Committee

51. Dana Fritz
Professor, School of Art, Art History & Design

52. Dr. Sidnie White Crawford
Willa Cather Professor of Classics and Religious Studies

53. Dr. Mike Lippman
Associate Professor of the Practice
Dept. of Classics and Religious Studies

54. Kathleen A. Johnson
Professor of Libraries

55. Sandra Williams
Associate Professor
School of Art, Art History and Design

56. Dr. Bedross Der Matossian
Associate Professor of History

57. Dr. Dave Billesbach
Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering and School of Natural Resources
Fellow, Center for Great Plains Studies

58. Dr. Adrian S. Wisnicki
Associate Professor, Department of English
Faculty Fellow, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

59. Dr. Peter Dowben
Charles Bessey Professor of Physics
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Center for NanoFerroic Devices

60. Dr. Erica DeFrain
Assistant Professor, University Libraries

61. Dr. John Bailey
Richard H. Larson Distinguished College Professor of Music

62. Dr. Gerard Adams
Associate Professor of Practice, Plant Pathology

63. Dr. Helen Moore
Emerita Professor, Department of Sociology
Past Aaron Douglas Professor of Teaching Excellence

64. Dr. David M. Harwood
Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

65. Dr. Edward F. Becker
Professor of Philosophy

66. Dr. Joy Castro
Professor of English & Ethnic Studies

67. Dr. Catherine Chia
Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences

68. Dr. Robert F. Diffendal, Jr.
Professor Emeritus, University of Nebraska
Past President, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Faculty Senate
Past President, Nebraska State Conference of the American Association of University Professors

69. Dr. Robert Brooke
John E. Weaver Professor of English

70. Dr. Charles J. Ansorge
Professor Emeritus of Educational Psychology

71. Dr. Drew Tyre
Professor, School of Natural Resources

72. Dr. Lisa A. Kort-Butler
Associate Professor of Sociology

73. Dr. Matt Fritz
Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology

74. Dr. Kwakiutl L. Dreher
Associate Professor
English and Ethnic Studies

75. Dr. Duane F. Shell
Research Professor of Educational Psychology

76. Dr. Virginia Chaidez
Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences

77. Dr. Rachel Azima
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of English
Director, UNL Writing Center

78. Dr. Deana Liddy, Professor Emeritus
Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Past President, Nebraska State Conference of the American Association of University Professors

79. Dr. Anthony J. Zera
Kate Foster Professor
School of Biological Sciences

80. Dr. Eileen Hebets
Professor, School of Biological Sciences

81. Dr. Jay Storz
Susan J. Rosowski University Professor
School of Biological Sciences

82. Dr. Richard K. Sutton
Professor, Agronomy and Horticulture and the Program in Landscape Architecture

83. Dr. Rosemary Strasser
University of Nebraska Omaha
Area Coordinator for Neuroscience & Behavior

84. Dr. Roni Reiter-Palmon
Varner Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology
University of Nebraska Omaha

85. Karsten Koehler
Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences

86. Dr. Sarah L. Thomas
Assistant Professor of Practice
Secondary English Education
Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education

87. Dr. Roy Koepp
Assistant Professor of Modern German and European History
University of Nebraska at Kearney

88. Sue Ann Gardner
Professor, University Libraries

89. Dr. Scott L. Gardner
Professor, School of Biological Sciences

90. David A Woodman
Professor of Practice, School of Biological Sciences
Past President, UNL Faculty Senate

91. Dr. Simon Wood
Department of Classics and Religious Studies

92. Dr. Glenn Tracy, Ed. D.
Associate Professor, College of Education
University of Nebraska at Kearney

93. Dr. Adam Houston
Associate Professor
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

94. Prof. Alisa Belflower
Coordinator of Musical Theatre Studies
Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts

95. Dr. William Aviles
Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Nebraska at Kearney

96. Dan May
Professor of Art
Art and Design Department
Visual Communications Design
University of Nebraska-Kearney

97. Dr. Elliot A. Tebbe
Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology
Department of Educational Psychology

98. Anthony Hawley
Lecturer
School of Art, Art History and Design

99. Dr. Tom Winter
Retired Associate Professor, Classics and Religious Studies

100. Dr. Joseph Mendola
Professor of Philosophy

101. Sarah Effken Purcell
President, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Faculty Senate
Nebraska Extension Educator

102. Dr. Jay A. Irwin
Associate Professor of Sociology/UNO
Past President UNO AAUP

103. Dr. Kevin Hanrahan
Associate Professor of Voice & Vocal Pedagogy
Glenn Korff School of Music

104. Lisa Sandlin
Writer’s Workshop, University of Nebraska Omaha

105. Dr. Heather Hallen-Adams
Assistant Professor of Practice
Food Science and Technology

106. Dr. Tricia Gray, Lecturer
Teacher, Learning, and Teacher Education

107. Dr. Etsuko Moriyama
Professor, School of Biological Sciences & Center for Plant Science Innovation

108. Dr. Carolyn Barber, DM
Ron & Carol Cope Professor of Music, Director of Bands
Glenn Korff School of Music
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

109. Dr. Hendrik Van den Berg
Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics

110. Dr. Kenneth M. Price
Hillegass University Professor of American Literature
Co-Director of the Walt Whitman Archive
Co-Director of the Center for Digital Research in Humanities

111. Scott Anderson, D.M.A.
Hixson-Lied Professor of Trombone
Glenn Korff School of Music

112. Dr. William Wagner
Professor, School of Biological Sciences

113. Dr. Mark Walker
Willa Cather Professor of Mathematics

114. Dr. Richard E Goodman, PhD FAAAAI
Research Professor
Food Allergy Research and Resource Program
Dept. of Food Science & Technology

115. Dr. Brigitte Tenhumberg
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
and Department of Mathematics

116. Dr. Mark Wilson
Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry

117. Kay Logan-Peters
Professor, University Libraries

118. Dr. John Gruhl
Professor of Political Science

119. Dr. Hans Sturm
Professor, Glenn Korff School of Music

120. Dr. Sathish Kumar Natarajan
Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences

121. Dr. Pamela F. Starr
Professor of Music History
Glenn Korff School of Music

122. Dr. Luwen Zhang
Professor of Biological Sciences
Nebraska Center for Virology

123. Dr. Guy Reynolds
Professor of English
Director of the Cather Project

124. Dr. Tim Arkebauer
Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture
School of Natural Resources

125. Dr. Charles Francis
Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture

126. Dr. Zoya Avramova
Professor of Biology, School of Biological Sciences

127. Dr. Rhae A. Drijber
Professor, Soil Microbial Ecology
Department of Agronomy & Horticulture

128. Dr. Sylvia Wiegand
Professor Emerita
Department of Mathematics

129. Dr. Dawne Y. Curry
Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies
2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar

130. Dr. Mark Griep
Associate Professor of Chemistry

131. Dr. John Meakin
Milton Mohr Professor Emeritus
Department of Mathematics

132. Dr. Matt Cohen
Associate Professor of English

133. Dr. Luchezar Avramov
Professor and Dale M. Jensen Chair of Mathematics

134. Dr. Glenn Ledder
Professor of Mathematics

135. Dr. John Paul DeLong
Associate Professor
School of Biological Sciences

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2 thoughts on “Open Letter From University of Nebraska Faculty

  1. Pingback: “The Opposition” Takes On Turning Point USA | ACADEME BLOG

  2. By the deadline, the letter had garnered 315 signatures from 88 departments and programs across all three branches of the Nebraska University system.

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