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AAUP Glossary of Acronyms & Terms

    Prepared for the AAUP Summer Institute 2007, University of Nevada, Reno

    1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure: Jointly authored bythe AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and endorsed by more than 200 educational organizations and disciplinary societies, the statement is incorporated by reference or verbatim in hundreds of faculty handbooks and cited in numerous judicial decisionsIt is the AAUP’s main policy document at the heart of the work of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure (see “Committee A”).

    Academe: AAUP’s bimonthly magazine of record, it features reports and statements issued by AAUP committees and articles on tenure, academic freedom, affirmative action, part-time faculty appointments, distance education, intellectual property, and other timely academic issues.

    Academic Freedom: This is the essential characteristic of an institution of higher education.Itencompasses the right of faculty to “full freedom in research and in the publication of results,” “freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject,” and the right of faculty to be “free from institutional censorship or discipline” when they speak or write as citizens. [1]

    Advocacy Chapter: The AAUP has two types of chapters – advocacy and collective bargaining (see “Collective Bargaining Chapter”).  Many faculty members do not seek a collective bargaining relationship with their administrations, or are full-timers who work in private institutions where, because of the Yeshiva decision (see below), they generally are not entitled to unionize. (Of course, any employer has the right to agree to collective bargaining if it so chooses).  In addition to providing a vehicle through which faculty can collectively organize (if not formally engage in collective bargaining), among other efforts AAUP advocacy chapters promote shared governance, academic freedom, and due process, and can engage in local Committee A work as well as government-relations campaigns. Active, well-organized advocacy chapters can also have influence on matters like salaries and benefits.

    Affiliation: Advocacy as well as collective bargaining chapters may choose to affiliate with the AAUP, and thereby accept and adhere to the bylaws and principles of the Association, as well as pay national (and, in some circumstances, state conference) dues.  Affiliates help build a strong membership and financial base for the AAUP to conduct its day-to-day operations, and affiliation allows chapter members to gain voting and representation rights on the AAUP’s national Council, as well as in the advocacy and collective bargaining governing bodies of the Association.

    Agency Fee: Refers to the union’s ability in particular states or at particular academic institutions to collect a fee in lieu of dues from all bargaining unit members (including non-union members) to pay for “chargeables,” or those expenses that arise out of a union’s representation activities.  Bargaining unit members may be charged, for example, for the union’s representation of all unit members in matters such as negotiating a contract, in grievances and arbitrations, and in organizing activities to strengthen collective bargaining negotiations. Both the right to collect agency fees and the method of doing so vary by state.

    Annual Meeting:  The AAUP holds its annual meeting each June in Washington, D.C. This event typically combines plenary addresses by distinguished speakers, business meetings, panel presentations, lobbying visits to Capitol Hill, and award presentations. The annual meeting also has a governance role, defined in the Association’s Constitution.

    ASC (Assembly of State Conferences): The umbrella organization for all of the AAUP’s state conferences (see “State Conference”). The ASC provides training and helps to coordinate state activities in areas such as government relations, academic freedom and tenure, membership development, and communications. The ASC also supports the work of state conferences through grants and scholarships to attend training events.

    Card Drive: The first stage of a union’s bid for institutional recognition as the collective bargaining agent for a particular group of university employees.  During the card drive, the union collects signed cards from individuals who make up the potential bargaining unit.  Bargaining unit members who sign the cards merely show their support for having an election on campus to determine whether or not they will be collectively represented by the union.  In most public institutions, the union must collect cards from a minimum of 30 percent of the employees who would be represented by the bargaining agent in order to call an election. 

    CBC (Collective Bargaining Congress): An umbrella organization of local AAUP collective bargaining chapters and affiliates. Its purpose is to develop and disseminate information and resources in support of the collective bargaining activities of AAUP chapters, and to engage in other activities in support of higher education collective bargaining. The CBC meets twice a year (in early December and in conjunction with the Association’s annual meeting in June) to carry out its business.  Currently, the CBC comprises more than 70 chapters and affiliates that serve as the collective bargaining representative on their respective campuses.

    Censure: The general secretary and other AAUP senior program officers are authorized to receive, on behalf of Committee A, complaints from faculty members at accredited colleges and universities about departures from the Association’s recommended standards concerned with academic freedom and tenure and related principles and procedures which are alleged to have occurred or to be threatened at their institutions. When efforts by the staff to resolve a faculty member’s case prove unsuccessful, and if the issues in dispute involve major departures from AAUP standards, the general secretary may, upon the advice of the staff, authorize appointment of an ad hoc committee to investigate and prepare a report. Censure of an institution’s administration—a practice begun in 1930—may result from the Association’s findings that conditions for academic freedom and tenure are unsatisfactory at a college or university. The responsibility for imposing censure rests with the AAUP’s annual meeting, which is similarly responsible for the removal of a censure.

    Collective Bargaining Chapter: The AAUP has two types of chapters: advocacy and collective bargaining (see “Advocacy Chapter”).  Collective bargaining chapters serve as the bargaining representatives for faculty and other academic employees in union-related activities at their respective campuses. 

    Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure: This key standing committee of the Association, the first of several committees established at the AAUP’s organizational meeting in 1915, promotes principles of academic freedom, tenure, and academic due process in higher education through the development of policy documents and reports relating to these subjects and the application of those principles to particular situations that are brought to its attention.  (See also “1940 Statement of Principles,” “Academic Due Process,” “Academic Freedom,” “Censure,” “Tenure,”and “RIR.”)

    Committee W (Committee on Women in the Academic Profession): Formerly known as Committee W, this standing national AAUP committee formulates policy statements, provides resources, and reports on matters of interest to women faculty and the academic community generally, addressing such issues as equity in pay, work/family balance, sexual harassment and discrimination, affirmative action, and the status of women faculty in rank and tenure.  The committee also sponsors data reports on gender equity, prepared by the AAUP’s Research Office.

    Contingent Faculty: This group consists of both part- and full-time faculty who are appointed off the tenure track. “The term calls attention to the tenuous relationship between academic institutions and the part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty members who teach in them. For example, teachers hired to teach one or two courses for a semesteerts or practitioners who are brought in to share their field experience, and whole departments of full-time non-tenure-track English composition instructors are all ‘contingent faculty.’ The term includes adjuncts [a. k. a. part-time faculty], who are generally compensated on a per-course or hourly basis, as well as full-time non-tenure-track faculty who receive a salary.” [2]

    Council: The governing body of the Association, consisting of four officers (president, first vice president, second vice president, and secretary-treasurer), thirty elected district delegates, and several ex officio members (the immediate past president and the chairs and immediate past chairs of the ASC and the CBC).  According to the Association’s Constitution, “One member of the Council shall be elected each year from each of ten geographical districts formed with regard to the distribution of the Association’s membership and to geographical contiguity. . . . The president and vice presidents shall be eligible for election to their respective offices for no more than three consecutive full terms, and retiring elected members of the Council shall be eligible for immediate reelection for one additional term.”

    Due Process, Academic:  Refers to procedures designed to resolve personnel issues in an academic institution in a clear, fair, and orderly manner. The process that is due to a faculty member depends on the circumstances of the individual’s situation. Broadly, academic due process comprises two elements: (1) adjudicative hearings of record before an elected faculty body for severe sanctions, where the administration bears the burden of demonstrating adequacy of cause, and (2) a grievance/appeals policy that permits faculty members to present their concerns to an elected committee of peers, with the complaining faculty member carrying the burden of proof.

    Dues: in certain cases, comprehensive/integrated membership dues may be charged, in which AAUP collects dues on behalf of chapters or conferences; more information is available on our website at or from the Association’s Membership Services department.

    DOS (Department of Organizing and Services): Supports member activity and development of both advocacy and collective bargaining chapters.  National DOS staff (with offices located both in Washington, D.C. and in Berkeley, CA) assist AAUP members to organize collectively and to take an active role in the future of their profession and institution.

    Entrant: AAUP membership category open to nontenured faculty who are either new AAUP members or new to a full-time appointment.  Entrant members receive a discounted rate on their national dues for up to four years. 

    Executive Committee: Consists of the president, the first and second vice presidents, the secretary-treasurer, the immediate past president, the chairs of the ASC and the CBC, and four Council members elected for renewable one-year terms from among those elected from the ten geographical districts. The Association’s Constitution provides that, between meetings of the Council, the executive committee “may exercise such powers as the Council has delegated to it and, under unforeseen exigencies, exercise other powers subject to prior authorization of the Council.” The executive committee “shall meet at least two times a year, with additional meetings to be called as necessary by the president or by a majority of the . . . committee.”

    Faculty Handbook: This document sets forth the policies, procedures, and guidelines governing a college or university’s operation. It includes official institutional regulations under which professors work and enumerates the rights and obligations of the faculty. Handbooks typically define, among other things, institutional governance structures, appointment and advancement procedures, and grievance procedures.  In some states, faculty handbooks may be enforceable employment contracts between individual professors and the institution. [3]

    Fair Share: See “Agency Fee.”

    Fee Payer: Individuals who do not belong to the union that represents them in bargaining, but who live in a state, or work for an institution, in which they must pay a “fair share” or “agency fee” (see “Agency Fee”).  Fee payers often pay the full amount of the dues – though as a “fee” – unless they object to doing so, in which case they are assessed for chargeables—the expenses of collective bargaining, grievance handling, and contract administration—only.

    Field Staff: Staff employed by local AAUP chapters and/or state conferences and who are typically based at local AAUP campus chapters or in state offices.

    General Secretary: The lead staff member and administrative supervisor of the Association’s national staff. As the organization’s chief executive officer, the general secretary is responsible for the operation of the AAUP’s national office and is accountable to the Council and the executive committee.

    Governance of AAUP: The AAUP’s activities are guided by its elected governing bodies. These include the Council, the executive committee of the Council, and the executive committees of the ASC and the CBC. The Association also has some fifteen national standing committees, a dozen AAUP business committees, and a number of advisory bodies. These committees, whose members are appointed by the president, are all listed on the AAUP Web site at

    GR (Government Relations): This AAUP activity—conducted at the chapter, conference, and national levels—includes the monitoring and analysis of local, state, and federal government policies and legislation on matters of concern to higher education. GR staff and committees typically provide information to various legislative bodies at all levels of government regarding selected legislative initiatives and assist in the development of legislative priorities each year through lobbying and education.  GR staff also communicates official AAUP policy positions on specific issues to members and encourages and facilitates member, chapter, and conference advocacy on those issues.

    HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities): The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines an HBCU as: “. . . any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.” The AAUP has a standing Commitee on Historically Black Institutions and Scholars of Color, which deals with issues of special concern to HBCUs and to minority faculty members in general.  The committee is concerned with access to opportunities in higher education for traditionally underrepresented groups and has focused its recent efforts on affirmative action and diversity, and outreach to faculty at minority-serving institutions.

    Joint Member: An AAUP member whose spouse or partner is already a full-time member.  Joint members pay a discounted membership rate.

    Mini Redbook: A collection of key documents from the AAUP’s larger publication, Policy Documents & Reports(see “Redbook”).  The mini Redbook contains the full text of both the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities and a summary of Contingent Appointments and the Academic Profession.

    National Staff: Most of the Association’s senior program officers are located in the AAUP’s Washington, D.C. office; two others are in the West Coast office in Berkeley, California. The staff, under the leadership of the general secretary, is responsible for carrying out the programs of the Association, and is charged with pursuing, promoting, and implementing AAUP policies and standards on behalf of the academic community.

    NLRB (National Labor Relations Board): An independent federal agency created by Congress in 1935 to administer the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sector. The statute guarantees the right of employees to organize and to bargain collectively with their employers, and to engage in other protected concerted activity with or without a union, or to refrain from all such activity.  In recent years, however, the courts and the NLRB have defined most tenure-line faculty from private institutions as “managerial” employees and thus have failed to provide them with the legal framework for union representation. (See “Yeshiva Decision.”) 

    Office Visits (One-on-one Organizing): One of the primary—and most effective—means of faculty organizing and mobilization.  Office visits consist of four basic steps: (1) introduction of the AAUP and its principles by AAUP chapter activists to other individual faculty members; (2) discovery of particular faculty concerns/issues/questions; (3) education of individual faculty members on AAUP national or chapter work/position on issues or concerns and on broader issues; and (4) commitment by visited faculty members to join AAUP chapter and national organization and/or to increase participation in AAUP chapter or national initiatives.

    President of AAUP: Elected leader of the Association who presides over the AAUP’s executive committee and the Council. The president serves a two-year term and is eligible for election to office for no more than three consecutive full terms. According to the AAUP Constitution, “The president shall appoint, and shall be ex officio a member of, all committees of the Association except the Nominating Committee, the Election Committee, and the Election Appeals Committee.” (See “Council” and “Executive Committee.”)

    “Redbook” (AAUP Policy Documents and Reports): Now in its tenth edition, this compilation of documents presents a comprehensive range of policies, in some instances formulated in cooperation with other higher education organizations. Widely regarded as an authoritative source on sound academic practice, the Redbook contains the Association’s major policy statements on topics such as academic freedom, tenure, due process, shared governance, professional ethics, research and teaching, distance education and intellectual property, work and family, discrimination, retirement and leaves of absence, collective bargaining, college and university accreditation, and student rights and freedoms. Many of the principles and procedural standards, and a great deal of the language, in these documents are embodied in the faculty handbooks and/or faculty collective bargaining agreements of numerous institutions.

    RIR (Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure): This document, first formulated by Committee A in 1957 and subsequently revised and expanded several times, sets forth, in language suitable for use by colleges and universities, rules that derive from the chief provisions and interpretations of the Association’s key statements of principles and procedural standards. The current text, adopted in 2006, is based upon the AAUP’s continuing experience in evaluating regulations actually in force at particular institutions. It is also based upon further definition of the standards and procedures of the Association over the years. Members of the AAUP staff are available for advice and assistance in interpreting these regulations as well as in incorporating them in, or adapting them to, the rules of a particular college or university.

    Salary Survey (Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession): AAUP’s comprehensive and comparative report on full-time faculty salaries at public and private institutions across the country.  Results are published annually in the March-April issue of Academe. (See “Academe”)

    Sanction, Governance: The general secretary and other AAUP senior program officers are authorized to receive, on behalf of the Committee on College and University Governance, complaints of departures from the Association’s recommended standards relating to academic governance at a particular college or university. When it appears that corporate or individual functions of the faculty, as defined in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, have been seriously threatened or impaired, and when efforts to resolve these matters prove unsuccessful, the general secretary may, upon the advice of the AAUP’s staff, authorize appointment of an ad hoc committee to investigate and prepare a report. The publication of such a report may lead to a recommendation from the governance committee to the Association’s annual meeting that an institution be sanctioned “for substantial noncompliance with standards of academic governance.” Whereas censure by the AAUP informs the academic community that an administration has not adhered to Association-supported standards of academic freedom and tenure, a governance sanction signals that unsatisfactory conditions of academic governance exist at an institution. (See “Censure,” “Shared Governance,” and “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities”) 

    Shared Governance: One of the key tenets of quality higher education, this term refers to governance of higher education institutions in which responsibility is shared by faculty, administrators, and trustees. AAUP emphasizes the importance of faculty involvement in personnel decisions, selection of administrators, preparation of the budget, and determination of educational policies. Faculty should have “primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.” [4] (See “Sanction, Governance” and “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities

    State Conference: An umbrella organization that brings together AAUP chapters (both advocacy and collective bargaining) and individual members within a particular state.  In states where no conference exists, two or more chapters in good standing can establish a conference to work together in advancing AAUP policies and goals.  

    Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities: Originally formulated in conjunction with the American Council on Education and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, this AAUP policy document embodies standards of governance widely upheld in American higher education. It rests on the premise of appropriately shared responsibility and cooperative action among the different components of institutional government and specifies the areas of primary responsibility for governing boards, administrations, and faculties. The statement, adopted in 1966, remains the Association’s central policy document relating to academic governance. It has been supplemented over the years by a series of derivative policy statements, including those on faculty governance and academic freedom, budgetary and salary matters, financial exigency, the selection, evaluation, and retention of administrators, college athletics, governance and collective bargaining, and the faculty status of college and university librarians. (See “Sanction, Governance” and “Shared Governance”.)

    Summer Institute: AAUP’s premier training event, which takes place every summer at a different campus location.  Workshops and seminars offered explore such topics as higher education data and research, contract negotiations, intellectual property, the faculty handbook, faculty governance, strategic communications, membership recruitment, and member organizing.

    Tenure: Essential for the protection of academic freedom, faculty tenure is, in its essence, a presumption of competence and continuing service that can be overcome only if specified conditions are met.  AAUP recommends that professors should undergo a probationary period (not to exceed seven years), after which individual faculty members should “have permanent or continuous tenure, and their service should be terminated only for adequate cause, except in the case of retirement for age, or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies.” [5] (See “Academic Due Process” and “Academic Freedom.”

    Yeshiva Decision: The 1980 Supreme Court decision (NLRB v. Yeshiva University) in which most full-time faculty members in private institutions were denied the right to pursue collective bargaining under the legal framework of the National Labor Relations Act (see “NLRB”) on grounds that they were “managerial employees” and thereby excluded from the act’s coverage. Part-time (adjunct) faculty members at private institutions do not face this legal impediment to unionization.


    [1] AAUP, 2006. “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” AAUP Policy Documents & Reports, p. 3. 

    [2] AAUP,  2006. “Contingent Appointments and the Academic Profession,” AAUP Policy Documents & Reports, pp. 98-99.

    [3] The AAUP publishes a guidebook on each state’s treatment of faculty handbooks, which is available for a nominal fee from the national office.

    [4] AAUP, 2006. “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities,” AAUP Policy Documents & Reports, p. 139.

    [5] AAUP, 2006. “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” AAUP Policy Documents & Reports, pp. 3-4.