Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

‘We are on the verge of being censured.’: Faculty senate worried about possible AAUP sanction

Mark Lapping, professor in the Muskie School of Public Service, once acted as interim president of Unity College, where he worked alongside the AAUP to set up a governance system for the school.
Sam Hill
Mark Lapping, professor in the Muskie School of Public Service, once acted as interim president of Unity College, where he worked alongside the AAUP to set up a governance system for the school.

Posted on January 22, 2015 in News
By Emma James

In response to recent cuts by administration, as well as the threat of a sanction by the American Association for University Professors (AAUP), a special faculty senate meeting was held on Friday to discuss the role of the senate moving forward.

In an almost unanimous vote, the senate passed a resolution to ask for a rescindment of recent acts by administration, as well as a request for administration to work in collaboration with governance documents and the AAUP.

The senate proposed a resolution regarding what they perceived as violations of the USM governance constitution. In response to this, an investigative team will be on campus Sunday and Monday.

According to Nancy Gish, professor of English, there are approximately 1,000 concerns from universities presented to the AAUP each year, and only four or five are selected to investigate, USM being one of those.

“We are on the verge of being censured by the AAUP,” said Carlos Luck, professor of electrical engineering. “Do we know what that means?”

According to the senate, though the AAUP has no legal standing, it will affect the university as a whole in the future. Concerns regarding recruitment and retrenchment were brought up.

In an interview with The Free Press, Chris Quint, executive director of public affairs, explained that USM has reached out to other universities sanctioned by the AAUP and there has been no significant impact on enrollment or recruitment.

“It’s inconsequential,” said Quint. “It doesn’t impact us. It’s in existence for them to promote an agenda.”

“The best people in the field will not apply for jobs here,” said Susan Feiner, professor of economics and professor of women and gender studies.

Mark Lapping, professor in the Muskie School of Public Service, said that people will look at the list of censored institutions and simply not apply.

“Let’s face it, it’s a buyer’s marker,” said Lapping. “It’s a blemish on the system. There are potentially more actions like this that could happen to the system.”

Lucinda Cole, director of the women and gender studies department, explained that USM would not be able to fulfill the universities purpose under these circumstances.

Quint explained, as he has in the past, that the AAUP has no standing in the matters of the university.

“They have zero legal standing. We are meeting with them as a courtesy and there will be no one else meeting with them from administration,” said Quint. “If they accept, they’ll have an opportunity to ask whatever questions they need to.”

“This is a misunderstanding of the word ‘standing.’ Most people think only or imagine only of the legal standing,” said Gish. “The AAUP has immense national standing, professional standing, moral standing, ethical standing, academic standing.”

She went on to explain that the word “standing” is much broader than whether or not there are legal implications.

“If, for example, my doctor were to cause me to be permanently disabled and the AMA took a stand on this, it wouldn’t be legal in court but it would certainly have standing,” said Gish. “If it was made public in the state, it ought to have a powerful impact on people’s views of the university.”

Luck explained that the idea that censure by the AAUP only puts a “damper” on recruitment doesn’t seem like a big enough punishment. However, others explained that there are long term repercussions to take into account.

Jerry LaSala, chair of the faculty senate, explained that governance is one of things considered when becoming accredited.

“I suspect that that would read down upon our accreditation,” said LaSala.

Luck also brought up the issue of recruiting local students in the area.

“What will our potential students do once they hear that USM is being sanctioned?” he asked.

Gish explained that one of the most important things that people could do was read the preamble of the constitution, which includes information about USM’s relationship with the AAUP.

“To say that the AAUP is not and never has had any participation in the policies of the governance system is incorrect,” said Gish. “The BoT is violating its own policies against the constitution.”

Quint rebutted that the only mention of the AAUP is in the preamble, which is simply an acknowledgement.

“There’s one mention in the USM constitution. That’s it,” said Quint. “We don’t have to meet with them, but we’ve offered.”

Quint said that once the investigation is through, he suspects USM will be censured, but that they’ll find exactly the same information that’s been given out since September.

“The same information [President] David [Flanagan] has given to the faculty senate meeting every time,” said Quint. “That information is we have a $16 million structural gap. They’ll find that the numbers are real. Whether they believe it or not, they’ll find that we’ve followed the processes in place.”

Quint believes the visit has a predetermined outcome, and that the AAUP did not plan their visit well.

“We’re closed on Monday and we’ve got other things to do,” said Quint. “If their intention was truly to have an informed investigation, reach out to us on days when we’re not closed or busy.”

  • Eileen Eagan

    The history of the AAUP and universities is worth more attention here. It is in fact composed of both a collective bargaining unit and a long time organization dealing with governance and academic freedom. It is arguable, though not clear, that adding collective bargaining has undercut its credibility in the other role. Personally, I had hoped that there might be a fair investigation that would be useful. Someone objective really should look at what has been going on. Alas, though, a least one of the three committee members is some who has been described by AFUM as its ally and has clearly expressed his point of view on the situation and been quoted frequently in arguments against the financial analysis of the UMS and USM. This, rather than AAUP’s union association, constititutes bias, lack of objectivity, and yet another example of bad research and a rigged committee.
    Sad.

  • Trainedbyseals

    Now that the status of the AAUP has (I hope) been clarified, let’s talk about PR. Chris Quint, you’re doing a terrible job of representing USM and here’s why: you don’t know the students, you don’t know the institution, you don’t know what university faculty do, and–most importantly–you don’t know how universities operate, nationally. You know local unions. That’s all. A better hired-gun president would have hired a person experienced in dealing with the AAUP. As faculty and students across the country know, what’s happening at USM is about more than local unions: it’s about trust in public institutions, and why universities shouldn’t let corporations dictate research, and why knowledge should not be bought or sold. When you’re ready to have those conversations, you’ll get some respect from the people who have devoted their lives to universities. In the meantime, please spare us the pretense that you and the corporate raiders you represent are suchbusybusymenwithnotimeforthisnonsense. You’re heading this ship straight for the iceberg. Heck of a job.

  • Trainedbyseals

    Please see the following link about the stricture of AAUP. You are thinking about AAUP-CBC. The Maine universities are not associated with the AAUP-CBC. http://www.aaup.org/about/organization/restructuring-faqs

  • Trainedbyseals

    The AAUP has three units. AAUP-CBC is a union, but that is NOT the body investigating the administration at USM. The professional organization is a 501(C)6 entity.

  • Trainedbyseals

    For the “guest” who keeps insisting that the AAUP is a faculty union, please quit providing misleading information. Under the AAUP “umbrella” you’ll now find three different organizations: the AAUP, a professional association protecting academic integrity and the credibility of the academy; the AAUP-CBC (a labor union to which USM does not belong); and the AAUP Foundation, a public charity.

  • Guest

    This is a NEASC accreditation issue as well. The AAUP may have no standing but NEASC sure does….The accreditation standard USM is governed by is:

    Organization and Governance
    Standard Three
    Organization and Governance
    The institution has a system of governance that fa
    cilitates the accomplishment of its mission and
    purposes and supports institutional effectiveness
    and integrity. Through its organizational
    design and governance structure, the institutio
    n creates and sustains an environment that
    encourages teaching, learning, service, scholarship, and where appropriate research and creative
    activity. It assures provision of support adequate for the appropriate functioning of each
    organizational component. The institution has sufficient independence from any sponsoring
    entity to be held accountabl
    e for meeting the Commission’s
    Standards for Accreditation
    .
    3.1
    The authority, responsibilities, and relationships among the governing board,
    administration, faculty, and staff are clearly de
    scribed in the institution’s by-laws, or an
    equivalent document, and in a table of organization that displays the working order of
    the institution. The board, administration, staff, and faculty understand and fulfill their
    respective roles as set forth in the institutio
    n’s official documents and are provided with
    the appropriate information to undertake th
    eir respective roles. The institution’s
    organizational structure, deci
    sion-making processes, and policies are clear and consistent
    with its mission and support institutional ef
    fectiveness. The inst
    itution’s system of
    governance involves the participation of al
    l appropriate constituencies and includes
    regular communication among them.

    3.12

    Faculty exercise an important role in assuring

    the academic integrity of the institution’s

    educational programs. Faculty have a substantive voice in matters of educational

    programs, faculty personnel, and other aspects of institutional policy that relate to their

    areas of responsibility and expertise.

    3.13 The system of governance makes provis

    ions for consideration of student views and

    judgments in those matters in which students

    have a direct and reasonable interest.

    3.14 Through its system of board and internal governance, the institution ensures the

    appropriate consideration of relevant perspectives; decision-making aligned with

    expertise and responsibility; and timely action on institutional plans, policies, curricular

    change, and other key considerations.

    When programs are eliminated or program

    requirements are changed, the institution

    makes appropriate arrangements for enrolled students so that they may complete their

    education with a minimum of disruption.

  • Blundemeier

    AAUP or no AAUP, the damage is done. EVERYONE knows USM is half the institution it used to be. Meanwhile drones like Quint pledge allegiance to a hack President who’s merely here to cut & run, nothing more.

  • Jane Kuenz

    The AAUP intervenes to this degree (campus visit and investigation) in only a few cases every year out of the many requests it gets. They are here because the organization has already studied the situation and has determined that further investigation is warranted, not because they respond to every complaint, much less find against every adminisration someone complains about. The AAUP does not protect faculty; it protects long established and respected values of higher education, particularly academic freedom and the tenure protections that are seen to guarantee it. I shouldn’t have said “working the refs” above, because it’s the AAUP who are the refs here, not those people on the sidelines to whom those comments are directed. The whole point of these comments, and of Chris Quint’s quoted in the article, is to undermine whatever the AAUP decides to do ahead of any announcement they make.

  • FA

    You have no idea,what you’re talking about. AAUP is not a union and doesn’t bargain collectively.

  • FA

    AAUP isn’t a union and doesn’t bargain on wages or working conditions. You are thinking of AFUM. AAUP sets standards on such things as academic freedom and faculty governance.

  • Guest

    Not thugs. But they definitely are not a neutral fact-finding investigative body.

  • Guest

    Okay–but are you asserting the AAUP is a neutral body–meaning not predisposed to favor the professors over the administration? If so, on what basis? When was the last time the AAUP censured a professor rather than a university?

  • Jane Kuenz

    AFUM is the bargaining unit for UMS faculties. The mission of the AAUP is broader:

    “The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities.” That’s from the AAUP website, not what you’ve linked to above.
    http://www.aaup.org/about/mission-1

  • Guest

    Aren’t the faculty who claim to be worried about a censure by the AAUP the ones who called in the AAUP in the first place?

  • Guest

    So it is a neutral objective body that is the collective bargaining agent for faculty unions around the country, but it is not a union?
    Good one! Ha ha ha

  • Guest

    It is most definitely a faculty union, or what else would you call the collective bargaining agent for college and university faculty? That is why all the fooferaw about censure by the AAUP is total hype. What else would one expect from a labor organization “investigating” a layoff?

    See for example these links to prove the point about the AAUP being a union:
    http://www.aaupcbc.org/
    http://www.pdx.edu/academic-affairs/2013-2015-psu-aaup-collective-bargaining-update

  • guest

    Union thugs, nothing more.

  • Guest

    The AAUP is not a union. It has collective bargaining chapters, but these are not involved in investigations and censure.

  • Jane Kuenz

    Working the refs a bit? The AAUP may not be the Royal Society, but it’s not a faculty union either.

  • Guest

    Really! Is the AAUP indeed the premiere academic organization and professional association in the world? Ahead of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences? Ahead of the Royal Society in the UK? I think not. I can join the AAUP for $58.00. Try joining either the Academy or the Society.

    The fact is that the UMS faculty is hyping the AAUP and a censure by the AAUP to mean more than they really are. The USM administration correctly notes that a censure by the AAUP, if it happens, means little to anyone outside the cloistered world of postsecondary collective bargaining.

  • Christy Hammer

    I stand corrected. AAUP is the premiere academic organization and professional association in the world. Not an “institution”, strictly. I blush to admit my error as a sociologist. Thank you.

  • Guest

    Stop with the nonsense, please. The AAUP is a union that negotiates collective bargaining agreements for college and university faculties. They are NOT the premiere academic institution in the country–in fact they are not even an academic institution.

  • Guest

    Hey folks, let’s be clear–This is not a neutral body coming in to investigate. The AAUP is a teachers’ union for college professors. Why would anyone be surprised that they side with the faculty union against management?

  • Christy Hammer

    The “agenda” of the AAUP including tenure for public university faculty and the connected academic freedom to control curriculum and influence programs. Without it, like at the Univ of WY where I’m from, the President from the oil and gas industry tried to stop a panel a Geology prof who studied fracked was arranging on the science which already was starting to show fracking was more dangerous and damaging than we’d previously understood. Without academic freedom and folks like the AAUP, that president could have censored the right of the geology professor to perform his research and share it with peers simply because it didn’t match the politics and priorities of the president. AAUP is the premiere academic institution in the country. To say it doesn’t matter is a smokescreen and silly.