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AAUP UIUC Chapter Statement:  The Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund: Faculty Authority and Responsibility, October 2007

DA: October 29, 2007
TO: Members, UIUC Chapter of AAUP
FR: Don Uchtmann, Chapter President

On Friday, October 26, the Policy Committee of our chapter approved the following Statement (The Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund: Faculty Authority and Responsibility).  The Statement invites faculty to engage in the work of re-framing the proposed mission of the Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund.  The Statement goes on to suggest three tasks worthy of special attention.  These tasks are to:

1.  Make sure that donors, backers, and the university administration understand the principles of faculty authority over curriculum, course content, and choice of research questions and that formal donor agreements are publicly available and consistent with these principles.

2.  Distinguish clearly between the appropriate and welcomed intent of donors to enable and encourage study of particular topics and ideas and the unacceptable intent to mandate particular results or presentation of particular points of view. Donations mandating particular points of view should be refused.

3.  Investigate how and why these two recent instances [i.e., the Global Campus and the Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund ] of initial failure to follow established principles and procedures occurred and recommend changes in practices to ensure that statutes are followed and, if necessary, changes in the statutes to prevent such failures in the future.

Also, please be aware of the current work of the UIUC Senate regarding this matter.  See, for example, the Senate Resolution on the agenda for the November 5 Senate Meeting (RS.08.01 Prefiled Resolution on Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund) available on the Senate Website at http://www.senate.uiuc.edu/rs0801.asp

Although the AAUP Statement adopted October 26 and the Senate’s Pre-filed Resolution (RS.08.01) have evolved in different venues, important principles are embedded in both documents, e.g., the importance of faculty authority over curriculum and course content as expressed, for example, in the University Statutes:  As the responsible body in the teaching, research, and scholarly activities of the University, the faculty has inherent interests and rights in academic policy and governance. Each college or other academic unit shall be governed in its internal administration by its faculty . . . . (University Statutes, Article II, Section 3 – Faculty Role in Governance).

AAUP UIUC Chapter Statement
The Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund: Faculty Authority and Responsibility
Adopted by the Policy Committee on October 26, 2007

Two recent initiatives at the University of Illinois—The Global Campus and the Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund—demonstrate how easily fundamental principles of university governance, faculty authority, and academic freedom can be lost. Concerted, assertive intervention by the Senate, AAUP Chapter, and others over the past two years reframed the Global Campus Initiative to be consistent with AAUP principles. Similar efforts are essential and now underway on the Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund.

In each of these instances, the central issues are faculty authority and academic freedom, not the substantive content of the proposals. The capabilities for virtual interaction on which the Global Campus is based present an important new opportunity to pursue the mission of the University of Illinois. Questions about capitalism and its relationship to government present rich opportunities to understand how societies can and do function. Faculty authority over curriculum and course content brings with it responsibilities to innovate in modes of learning and to consider and investigate ideas in intellectually appropriate ways based on argument and evidence.

The UIUC AAUP chapter invites all faculty to engage through the Senate, the recently appointed committee, and the AAUP chapter in the current work of trying to reframe the proposed mission of the Academy for Capitalism and Limited Government Fund. This effort is already directly engaging the university administration.

Faculty initiative should focus on three tasks:

  1. Make sure that donors, backers, and the university administration understand the principles of faculty authority over curriculum, course content, and choice of research questions and that formal donor agreements are publicly available and consistent with these principles.
  2. Distinguish clearly between the appropriate and welcomed intent of donors to enable and encourage study of particular topics and ideas and the unacceptable intent to mandate particular results or presentation of particular points of view. Donations mandating particular points of view should be refused.
  3. Investigate how and why these two recent instances of initial failure to follow established principles and procedures occurred and recommend changes in practices to ensure that statutes are followed and, if necessary, changes in the statutes to prevent such failures in the future.

AAUP principles, practices, vigilance, and diligence have for decades played a crucial role in sustaining the fundamental nature of intellectual inquiry at universities and at the University of Illinois in particular. To learn more about how we do this, visit our website at http://www.aaup-ui.org/

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