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Illinois AAUP Newsletter – Issue 7, June 2024

    AAUP Values

    The AAUP—in both its national and local manifestations—plays a vital role in supporting the bedrock principles of academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance within higher education. These principles help make higher education in the United States a national treasure and one of the envies of the world, even while ensuring contributions to the public good. We also serve as an active resource for faculty with concerns about the tenure process, academic freedom, and other faculty matters. For more information, please see our website.

    New Members Welcome

    We thank our current members for their continuing support and hope they will help recruit new members by forwarding this newsletter to colleagues who may be interested. Chapter dues have been temporarily waived to acknowledge your support and invite new members. If you or a colleague would like more information, please feel free to contact Robin Kar (President) (Law & Philosophy) or Carol Symes (Vice President) (History).

    You may join the national AAUP through its website. Because the AAUP is a professional organization, faculty can use research funds to cover membership dues. Our local chapter is focused on tenure-stream faculty because specialized faculty have a union, the Non-Tenured Faculty Coalition (NTFC).

    The Current Landscape

    Despite the strength that AAUP values lend to higher education in the United States, these values are perennially under political threat. Recent years have witnessed renewed attacks on tenure, on academic freedom to address systemic inequalities and the climate crisis, and on free speech and rights to protest on campus. New threats are arising from changes in technology, increased political factionalism, and new uses of social media and artificial intelligence in an increasingly “post-truth” era. The bedrock principles that have made American universities admired across the world for their research and teaching are facing attacks from old and new sources.

    As in prior years, the work that the AAUP local chapter does, which has benefitted from all your contributions, is thus vital. Plus, here at Illinois we have connections to our colleagues at other campuses that face more immediate threats. Thank you for your service to and interest in our chapter and for spreading the word to colleagues who may be interested in what we do.

    Statement on Free Speech in Times of Political Crisis

    Last year, campuses around the nation were rocked by political protests related to the Israeli-Hamas War and by ensuing campus and police reactions. The University of Illinois distinguished itself from many campuses across the nation as a place that upholds the ideals of free speech by limiting law enforcement action to the maintenance of safety for all members of our community. To urge such a response, the local AAUP chapter put out a Statement on Free Speech at UIUC in Times of Crisis that was joined by the Non-Tenured Faculty Coalition.

    Panel on Artificial Intelligence and Academic Freedom

    Given recent developments in artificial intelligence, our chapter invited a national expert from our own campus—Kevin Scharp (Philosophy)—to consider the possible implications of these recent technological developments for academic freedom and other AAUP values. The talk—which included discussions with our members—was video-recorded and can be found here.

    Panel Discussion on Promotion and Tenure

    This spring we again held our one of our most important annual events, the annual panel discussion on “Promotion and Tenure at the UIUC.” It was a great pleasure to see so many faculty colleagues present at an event that was designed to make promotion and tenure expectations and procedures more transparent.

    Panelists this year included William Bernhard (Vice Provost for Academic Affairs), Gregory Elliot (Chair, Campus P&T Committee), Rosa Milagros Santos (Associate Provost for Faculty Development), and Carol Tllley (Chair, Faculty Advisory Committee). The session—which included Q&A—was video-recorded and can be found here.

    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. (See “How to Reach Us” below.)

    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 be happy to visit your department and introduce the AAUP to you and your colleagues. Please just ask your department leadership to invite us if we could be of service. (See “How to Reach Us” below.)

    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 feel free to contact our President, Robin Kar (President) (Law & Philosophy), or our Vice President, Carol Symes (Vice President) (History). We look forward to hearing from you!