AAUP to Investigate National Louis University in September: NLU asks, “By what authority?”

July 10, 2012

Dr. Nivine Megahed                                                                                                                        President                                                                                                                                      National Louis University                                                                                                                  122 South Michigan Avenue                                                                                                              Chicago, Illinois 60603

Thank you for your letter of June 25, responding to mine of May 7, 21and June 12, concerning the general secretary’s decision to authorize an investigation into issues of Association concern at National Louis University. You ask “in what capacity [we] are making [our] inquiries/ investigations and by what authority [we] purport to be acting.”

We agree it is important that we explain our basic aims. The Association, since its founding in 1915, has sought to secure an understanding of sound academic standards in accredited institutions of higher learning throughout the United States. It has, for example, issued statements of policy, frequently in cooperation with other leading organizations in the academic community, embodying these standards. The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, upon which our interest in the issues of academic freedom, tenure, and due process posed by the cases at National Louis University is based, was adopted jointly by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and has been endorsed by more than 210 leading professional societies and educational organizations.

Also, from its earliest days, the AAUP has deemed it to be its responsibility to investigate, and to inform the profession about, institutional actions which appear to constitute significant departures from generally accepted academic standards. The Association has never maintained that the administration of a college is under any official obligation to participate in the Association’s investigative efforts.  On a number of occasions we have completed an investigation without that participation. In most instances, however, it has been and continues to be our experience that administrations are cooperative.

As we prepare our investigation, the second half of your letter, describing the NLU administration’s perspective on the actions and decisions of the last several months, is a helpful step in enhancing our understanding of what has occurred, and we appreciate your sharing that information with us. There are quite a few issues and questions, however, that our ad hoc investigating committee will want to explore more fully with you and with other NLU administrative officers. These include such matters as the decision-making process that led to the discontinuance of academic programs and the termination of faculty appointments; the criteria  that were used in making these decisions; the “serious fiscal pressures on the university” that you cited as the basis for the actions taken, and the budgetary savings that resulted from the layoffs; the nature and extent of the faculty’s participation in the process that you have described as “fully collaborative”; the review procedures afforded to the faculty members whose appointments were terminated; and efforts that were made to find other suitable positions for affected faculty. We would hope, therefore, that you will agree to meet with members of our investigating committee, probably in September, when they visit Chicago to conduct interviews with the concerned parties.

Primary staff responsibility for our NLU investigation from this time on will be held by my colleague, Anita Levy. You will be hearing from her about the identity of the committee members and the proposed dates for the committee’s visit.

Sincerely,

B. Robert Kreiser                                                                                                                              Associate Secretary

cc: Mr. Richard M. Ross, Jr., Chair, Board ofTrustees                                                                 Dr. Christine J. Quinn, Provost                                                                                                        Dr. Walter Roettger, Dean, College ofArts and Sciences                                                             Dr. Alison R. Hilsabeck, Dean, National College of Education                                                 Mr. Thomas R. Bergmann, Vice President of Human Resources                                   Professor Timothy Collins, Chair, Faculty Senate                                                                   Professor Todd Price, President, NLU Chapter  AAUP                                                    Professor Michael Harkins, President, Illinois Conference AAUP                                 Professor Peter N. Kirstein, Chair, Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure                                                                                                                                            Dr. Anita Levy, AAUP Associate Secretary

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