Letter followed by censure at AAUP DC annual meeting on June 15.
NATIONAL LOUIS UNIVERSITY (ILLINOIS)
The investigation of Association concerns at National Louis University followed the actions taken by the administration in spring 2012 to discontinue numerous academic programs (nine degree programs and five nondegree certificate programs), to close four departments in the College of Arts and Sciences (English/philosophy, fine arts, mathematics, and natural sciences), and to terminate the services of at least sixty-three full-time faculty members effective as of fall 2012.
National Louis administrators did not declare financial exigency, but alleged financial problems and cited the likelihood of budget deficits as grounds for conducting a review of all academic programs, the goal of which would be to cut costs. Of those faculty members whose positions were subsequently eliminated, the investigating committee identified sixteen tenured professors whose appointments were terminated with a year’s notice.
The investigating committee concluded that the administration acted in violation not only of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure but also of derivative Association-supported standards. Some of its actions also disregarded stated university policies and past practice, as well as the judgment of the faculty in almost every aspect of the program-elimination process.
Moreover, the investigating committee was particularly struck by how quickly and extensively competent and experienced members of the faculty, many of them with decades of service to the institution, were replaced by a cadre of part-time adjuncts. The committee concluded that most of the courses taught by the faculty members with terminated appointments are still being taught, but by adjunct faculty members who serve at will and receive a small fraction of the compensation paid to the full-time faculty members they have replaced. The administration retained a few of the senior faculty members only as poorly paid part-time adjuncts after their full-time appointments were terminated, thus violating their tenure rights regarding procedural safeguards and continued compensation. Also invidious was the establishment of a “bumping process” whereby faculty members with more seniority, whose eligibility to “bump” had been confirmed by the administration, and who could show they were qualified to teach another faculty member’s courses, could replace or bump that individual in order to remain on the faculty.
The investigating committee concluded that the climate for academic freedom under the current administration of National Louis University following the release of scores of experienced full-time faculty members and their replacement by adjunct faculty members serving at will, has made a poor climate for academic freedom chillier still.
Committee A recommends to the Ninety-ninth Annual Meeting that National Louis University be placed on the Association’s list of censured administrations.