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Illinois AAUP Newsletter – Issue 3, May 2021

    AAUP/Provost’s Office Report on Shared Governance

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

    This semester saw a long-term project of our chapter finally come to fruition: with the Provost’s Office, we published an analysis of a survey on shared governance at the Urbana-Champaign Campus. The publication is especially the result of the efforts of longtime Policy Committee member Hadi Esfahani, who deserves our sincere gratitude. The full report is available here.

    The report demonstrates that many of the provisions of Provost’s Communication #27, which sets out policies and procedures for shared governance, are being followed, but also that many are not. The survey found that units generally have publicly posted bylaws, committees whose membership is made public, regular faculty meetings announced well in advance, and elections to the University Senate. There are some very happy units on campus that enjoy excellent shared governance. At the same time, there are numerous departments in which Executive Officers do not involve their faculty in decision-making procedures, and in some cases actively work against such involvement. Interestingly, elected chairs seem to function better, in general, than appointed heads. There are many other things to glean from the report, and I encourage you to read it.

    The report is redacted, in part to protect the identity of respondents, but also because, as the Provost’s Office persuaded us, units with negative results are more likely to make progress if they are not reproached publicly. The full results of the survey have been made available to deans and other administrators who can use the results to improve shared governance on campus. A public discussion of the report, featuring presentations by Vice Provost William T. Bernhard, report author Professor Hadi Esfahani, and Professor Harriet Murav will take place at the AAUP chapter Annual Meeting Tue., May 11 at 3:30 PM. All faculty and staff are invited. The Zoom information is at the end of this newsletter.

    Spring Semester Activities

    AAUP P&T Workshop

    The Policy Committee of the Chapter remains very active. As we do every year, we offered a Tenure and Promotion Workshop during the spring semester. This year, as has often been the case, the workshop took place especially as a result of the efforts of Harry Hilton. The attendance was the highest ever, at 113, perhaps reflecting concerns related to COVID-19, and perhaps reflecting the greater ease of attending via Zoom. A recording of the session is available here.

    Members of the committee also met once again with members of the Board of Trustees. This year, because of the pandemic, we met with just one trustee, Don Edwards, and with President Tim Killeen and Associate Vice President Barb Wilson. Our discussion was wide-ranging, addressing, among other topics, our recently published governance report, the University’s response to COVID-19, the issue of Zoom censorship (more on this below), AAUP investigations of universities that have used COVID-19 as an excuse for violations of shared governance and tenure policies, and policies and procedures for revision of the University Statutes.

    The discussion about Zoom was in relation to its censorship of academic events organized online at New York University and the University of Hawaii. Zoom determined that because one of the speakers at these events, Leila Kahled, had participated in a hijacking some fifty years ago, they would not carry them on their service. As a result of our discussion, we will soon meet with other University of Illinois administrators to consider what measures should be taken here to put an end to such censorship.

    If any of these issues interest you, or if you would like to propose that we work on others, we welcome your participation on the Policy Committee. Just contact David O’Brien at


    Please come to our annual meeting, discussed above, on Tuesday, May 11, at 3:30 PM. Zoom information:
    Meeting ID: 822 0478 2750
    Password: 527300