Maryland AAUP Spring Conference Minutes

Saturday, April 17th, 2010, 9AM to 12PM


Theme: Academic Freedom and Higher Education


I. Greg Sholtz, Director, Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, & Governance, AAUP National Office: “How the AAUP Protects and Investigates Academic Freedom.”  

              A. Discussed how the AAUP Dept. of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance pursues cases.

              B. Explained how/why policy language in faculty handbooks matters in institutional shared governance by establishing guidelines and procedural protections.

              C. Indicated cases rarely have anything to do with research or teaching; most cases deal with ideological differences with administrations and boards of trustees.

              D. Reviewed some recent high profile, national cases and explained that the criteria for being put on a censure or sanction list needs to be high, so that mere disagreement should not qualify as grounds for being on it – the shorter the list, the more attention brought to representative cases that have broader consequences for many. 

              E. Explained that academic freedom is at once an individual and a corporate right, so the issues can get very complicated: colleges/universities have academic freedom; department-level governance can trump individual freedoms.  There needs to be ongoing negotiation of interests among various individual and institutional players.


II. Pat Shaw, Associate Secretary, Department of Organizing & Service, AAUP National Office: “Protecting an Independent Faculty Voice: Academic Freedom after Garcetti vs. Ceballos”

              A. Discussed how legal developments over the last few years have increasingly encroached upon faculty speech in institutional matters.  This disproportionately affects academic freedom in public institutions, which will inevitably affect private institutions as well. 

              B. Reviewed some of the key legal decisions that laid the groundwork for academic freedom and how the recent Garcetti vs. Ceballos decision of 2006 poses serious issues for faculty at public universities to speak out on institutional matters. 


III. Jeff Myers, Associate Professor of English, Goucher College: “Is this the University that Hired Me? Assessment of Learning in Gen. Eds.”

              A. Discussed how the transition from major to gen. eds. enables elimination of department rights.

              B. Explained the significance of the American Association of Colleges & Universities (1915 – same year as emergence of AAUP).  It’s an organization for administrators that became instrumental to the “assessment movement.”

              C. The emphasis on assessment involves more administrators and hiring external reviewers, which has contributed to inflating higher education costs.

              D. The whole tenure system’s point would be acknowledgment of faculty expertise but now someone else creates assessment mechanisms, which can erode academic freedom at the individual and department level.

              E. Discussed and debated what faculty can do in response to assessment trends and its consequences for academic freedom.


IV. Business Meeting

  • Created 3-person nomination committee for AAUP Maryland Executive Committee Elections: Laura Burns (Goucher), Father Frank Haig (Loyola), Tina Kelleher (Towson). 
  • Decided the Maryland AAUP Fall 2010 meeting and regional conference would take place at Towson University (date TBA).
  • Discussed importance of forming and recruiting a committee for lobbying the Maryland state legislature. 


Return to Spring 2010 Newsletter