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Illinois AAUP Newsletter – Issue 6, May 2023

Welcome. This newsletter goes out to members and friends of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tenure-stream faculty chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). We especially welcome our new members as well as faculty who are not yet members but have met with us or participated in our programs in recent years and would like to keep informed about our work and consider joining the AAUP. If you receive this newsletter and are not a member, then we probably sent it to you because you registered for one of our programs over the past couple years or otherwise engaged in dialogue with us.

#YourCampusIsNext

Please join us Tuesday May 9 at 3:30 on Zoom to hear Patricia Okker speak about the crisis in academic freedom. Recently dismissed from her position as President of New College of Florida by the controversial new board of political appointees at New College, Okker (pictured to the right) is a distinguished scholar and the former Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri (and a UIUC PhD). She will speak on #YourCampusIsNext: New Strategies for Protecting Academic Freedom, including what faculty can do now to defend the core values of academic freedom and shared governance. We hope to see you there. Click HERE to register for this event.

What Does the AAUP Do?

The AAUP has three central and related concerns: We support academic freedom, the tenure-system, and shared governance (faculty participation in campus governance). Now perhaps more than ever, these bedrock principles, which have made American universities admired across the world for their research and teaching, are under attack. If we reinvent American universities so that politicians decide what we can teach and research and which faculty we can hire, then American public universities will turn into mouthpieces for politicians’ whims and partisan manipulations.

While we may feel insulated from these challenges at the University of Illinois, that could change (as the title of President Okker’s talk reminds us). Plus, here at Illinois we have connections to our colleagues at other campuses that face more immediate threats. If you wait until these crises affect your own personal research and teaching, then you will have waited too long.

To protect our teaching and research, we need the AAUP.

How Can You Join the AAUP?

If you are a tenure-stream faculty member at UIUC and would like to join the AAUP or would like to hear more information or ask about what you can do, reach out to us (see contact info below) or go to the national AAUP website HERE. (Because the AAUP is a professional organization, faculty can use research funds to cover membership dues, the same as when you join any other professional organization.)

What Does our AAUP Chapter Do?

We do a lot. For example, our monthly Policy Committee meetings this year have included lively discussions of, among other matters, campus Covid policies and the faculty’s role in determining them, the crisis in funding for public universities, the controversy over whether it is or is not appropriate for academic departments to issue political statements or whether such statements are appropriate only within limits, university policies on sexual harassment, meetings with campus administrators, a hearing in the state legislature about university teaching, faculty strikes at other universities in-state (including UIC and Eastern Illinois) and nationally, the controversy over sanctions against UIC Professor Jason Kilborn, and government interference with public universities in other states. Where appropriate, we reach out to campus administrators to express opinions on these topics or share information about new developments. Most years, we meet with campus administrators, and sometimes (including later this spring) our leadership meets with the University President and members of the Board of Trustees to make sure that the Board has access to faculty perspectives. Over the last year, we have increased our dialogue with the Campus Faculty Association (CFA) and the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition (NTFC). Many of our members belong to both the CFA and the AAUP. We also organize events, such as a recent program on teaching critical race theory, and we are available for consultations with faculty.

Consultations with Faculty

The chapter leadership remains available for confidential consultations with faculty members who have concerns about their relations with departmental or higher administration. Our AAUP chapter leadership would be happy to hear from you.

Panel Discussion on Promotion and Tenure

As always, it was a pleasure to see many faculty colleagues at our annual panel discussion on promotion and tenure at UIUC, designed to help make promotion and tenure expectations and procedures transparent. Panelists at the workshop included Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost William T. Bernhard; Acting Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Associate Provost for Faculty Development Rosa Milagros Santos; Interim Director of the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics and Chair of the Campus Committee on Promotion and Tenure Mariselle Meléndez; and Associate Professor Amanda Ciafone, who chairs the Faculty Advisory Committee.

We’d Love to Talk With More UIUC Faculty

This year we have reached out to faculty by setting up a booth at the new faculty orientation and speaking to faculty at department meetings. Have we met with your department yet? We’d love to visit your department meeting and introduce the AAUP to you and your colleagues. Ask your department leadership to invite us.

How to Reach Us

We hope you’ll join us as we support the UIUC faculty and advocate for academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance. For more information about the AAUP, our UIUC chapter, or the chapter’s activities, please contact chapter President Robert Dale Parker at rparker1@illinois.edu or Vice President Richard Laugesen at laugesen@illinois.edu. We look forward to hearing from you.