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Illinois AAUP Newsletter – Issue 1, March 2020

    President’s Message

    David O’Brien, President, University of Illinois AAUP Chapter

    Greetings, fellow members of the AAUP Chapter for tenure-stream faculty at the University of Illinois. In order to keep our members better informed about the Chapter’s activities, we are beginning an occasional newsletter, of which this is the first issue.

    This has been a busy year for the Chapter. Your membership has allowed us to continue our advocacy on behalf of the faculty, which we have done in both old and new ways.

    Our chapter has a robust tradition of meeting regularly with top administrators at the University. This semester members of the Policy Committee met with Chancellor Robert Jones and Provost Andreas Cangellaris to discuss, among other issues, the University’s new budget model, threats to academic freedom posed by a recent executive order and new policies of the U.S. Department of Education, and harassment of professors as a result of their research.

    In addition to meeting with administrators, the Chapter also meets regularly with members of the Board of Trustees. This longstanding tradition had disappeared for some two decades—until five years ago, when it was reestablished thanks to the efforts of former chapter president Harry Hilton. This semester, happily, members of the Policy Committee met with Board of Trustees Chair Don Edwards, Board Member Edward McMillan, President Tim Killeen, and Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson for a cordial and frank discussion of various issues confronting the Board. The discussion focused on three topic that have been of great importance to our members: harassment of faculty for their research, threats to academic freedom by recent government actions, and the rights of faculty to criticize the policies and actions of the University. We are grateful for this renewed access for the University faculty to the Board of Trustees.

    In still another collaboration with the University administration, the Chapter reviewed the recommendations of the University of Illinois Report of Sexual Misconduct at the request of the Provost’s Office. This culminated in a meeting with Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Bill Bernhard and members of his staff, in which we communicated both support for much of the Report and criticisms of some aspects of it, primarily related to due process and potential infringements on academic freedom.

    This year we have also conducted, under the direction of Professor Hadi Esfahani and again in conjunction with the Provost’s Office, two surveys, one addressed to faculty and the other to department chairs and heads, concerning shared governance on campus. We will make public our analysis of the surveys very shortly.

    We were forced to delay our annual workshop on promotion and tenure, a very important service we provide to assistant and associate professors, because of the University’s policies regarding COVID-19. The workshop will either be offered later in the semester or in the fall. We will keep you informed on new developments.

    It has been a busy year, and there is more to come. Of special note is our annual business meeting, on Tuesday, May 12, at 3 p.m. in 314B Illini Union. Unlike in other years, and again because of COVID-19, we have decided not to have guest speakers as part of the meeting. Instead, we will have a general discussion of the goals of the Chapter, and, if necessary, we will arrange for attendance online. I hope to see you all there, whether in person or on a video screen!

    Membership in the AAUP

    No organization does more than the AAUP to safeguard academic freedom and tenure in American universities. All professors working in the United States benefit from the AAUP’s efforts, but not all support the organization by becoming members. Your membership in the AAUP is therefore to be applauded.

    Membership in the AAUP has been declining nationally as well as in our own local chapter. Indeed, many national academic organizations are struggling, perhaps because the increasing demands of an academic career have focused professors ever more narrowly on their research. Without someone attending to the interests of the profession, however, academics may lose much of the intellectual liberty and professional security that have traditionally made careers in the university attractive.

    We will soon begin a membership drive to renew our presence here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the meantime, I want to thank you for your continued support. If you would like to play a larger role our local chapter, please contact the President, David O’Brien, at There are many ways to contribute. And please encourage your colleagues to join the AAUP. It is the minimum one can do for the profession. To join, visit this link.

    In Memoriam: Ken Andersen

    Ken Anderson

    Sadly, this year saw the passing of a number of longtime members of our local chapter. Of particular note is the death of Ken Andersen, who taught at the University from 1970 to 1995, continuing afterwards as a very active emeritus professor. Ken’s contributions—to the University as a major participant in shared governance and administration, to the field of communications as a teacher and a researcher, and to numerous national academic organizations—were immense. Ken also worked tirelessly for the AAUP, as local chapter member and president, state conference president and treasurer, as well as an editor and writer for the national AAUP newsletter. He was a chapter or conference delegate to more than thirty national AAUP conventions, chaired three national committees, and served a term on the national conference. His service to the Association of State Conferences was honored with the Tracey Award.

    Contributions in honor of Ken may be given to the “Kenneth E. & Mary Klaaren Andersen Fund in support of the Krannert Center – 771028”. The mailing address to send donations is: University of Illinois Foundation / 1305 W Green St, MC-386 / Urbana, IL 61801. Checks should be payable to “University of Illinois Foundation” and note the fund name in the memo line of the check. You can also make your gift securely online at