On Saturday, June 15, 2013, the AAUP's Ninety-ninth Annual Meeting passed the following three resolutions:
Resolution Supporting The Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) supports the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative John Tierney (D-MA), and it urges Congress to enact this much-needed reform. The proposed legislation would not only prevent the student-loan interest rate from doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1, but also reduce the current rate from 3.4 percent to 0.75 percent—the same rate at which the federal government lends money to banks through the Federal Reserve discount window.
The Federal Reserve has argued that providing banks with near-zero interest rates is essential for economic growth during a lackluster recovery, but ever-increasing levels of student debt can also hinder recovery. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in less than a decade the average amount of American student-loan debt for a 25-year-old has doubled to $20,326 in 2012, from $10,649 in 2003. US student-loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion. Indeed, some have argued that the growing burden of such debt threatens to become a “bubble” as dangerous to the country’s economic health as the mortgage-debt bubble that helped precipitate the great recession of 2008. “Big banks get a great deal when they borrow money from the Fed,” Senator Warren said. “In effect, the American taxpayer is investing in those banks. We should make the same kind of investment in our young people who are trying to get an education."
The AAUP stands for accessible and affordable higher education. We are deeply troubled by the steady decline in public support for higher education, the increasing tuition burden placed on students, and the shift in financial aid from a grant-based to a loan-based system. Senator Warren’s proposed legislation could begin to reverse these destructive trends.
We call upon our members and others in the higher education community to support this proposal.
Resolution in Support of Faculty Control of the Curriculum at the City University of New York
Whereas, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has been a longstanding proponent of sound academic governance, the principles of which are enunciated in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, and
Whereas, the Statement on Government, which embodies standards widely upheld in American higher education, rests on the premise of appropriately shared responsibility and cooperative action among the governing board, the administration, and the faculty in determining educational policy and resolving educational problems within the academic institution, and
Whereas, Section V of the Statement on Government defines the role of the faculty in institutional governance, stating in part:
The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.
Whereas, faculty control of the curriculum is essential for academic quality, and faculty must formulate and oversee the curriculum if the university is to retain its academic character, and
Whereas, the Professional Staff Congress, an affiliate of the AAUP representing faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York (CUNY), is waging a campaign for the repeal of Pathways—a top-down overhaul of CUNY’s general-education framework that will replace all existing general-education curricula and force colleges to reduce the number and quality of required courses, and
Whereas, Article VIII, Section 5 of the CUNY bylaws lists formulation of the curriculum as a duty of the faculty, stating:
The faculty shall be responsible, subject to guidelines, if any, as established by the board, for the formulation of policy relating to the admission and retention of students including health and scholarship standards therefor, student attendance including leaves of absence, curriculum, awarding of college credit, granting of degrees.
Whereas, Article VIII Section 10 of the CUNY Bylaws lists formulation of curriculum as a duty of the University Faculty Senate, stating:
There shall be a university faculty senate, responsible, subject to the board, for the formulation of policy relating to the academic status, role, rights, and freedoms of the faculty, university-level educational and instructional matters, and research and scholarly activities of university-wide import.
Whereas, the CUNY administration has circumvented elected faculty bodies and college governance—and violated academic freedom—in the development and imposition of Pathways, and
Whereas, Pathways reduces academic quality and rigor at CUNY by introducing basic science courses without lab sessions, decreasing requirements for foreign language study, and replacing academic disciplines with vaguely defined interdisciplinary fields, and
Whereas, the CUNY administration has responded to legitimate faculty objections to Pathways with intimidation, threats, and coercion, and
Whereas, the AAUP has communicated with the CUNY administration several times regarding Pathways, warning against attacks on academic freedom and shared governance and raising objections to the atmosphere of threats and coercion that has accompanied the implementation of Pathways, and
Whereas, more than 60 percent of CUNY’s full-time faculty participated in a university-wide referendum about Pathways conducted by the American Arbitration Association at the request of the Professional Staff Congress, and
Whereas, 92 percent of voters declared they had No Confidence in the Pathways curriculum by voting “agree” to a statement that read: “I have No Confidence in Pathways.”
Therefore, be it resolved, that the AAUP calls upon the CUNY Board of Trustees to repeal the June 2011 resolution which established the Pathways curriculum, because it has failed to earn the confidence of the faculty who must implement it, and
Be it further resolved, that the AAUP calls upon the CUNY chancellery and the CUNY Board of Trustees to reinstate shared governance at CUNY and respect the role of elected faculty leaders in formulating the curriculum.
Resolution on “Profile for a Twenty-First-Century President”
The Association’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, jointly formulated with the American Council on Education and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, rests on the premise of appropriately shared responsibility, constructive collaboration, and cooperative action among a college or university’s various constituents in determining educational policy and in addressing educational problems within the academic institution. Under principles of shared governance, even where primary responsibility rests with one of the other institutional components, the faculty should be afforded a meaningful participatory role in the significant decision-making processes affecting the future well-being of the institution.
In recent years, meaningful faculty participation in matters of shared governance has declined throughout the higher education community. This alarming trend is seen most clearly in the growing reliance on corporate managerial concepts in the governance of colleges and universities. On many campuses the atmosphere is increasingly adversarial and polarized, relations between the faculty and the administration (as well as the governing board) are marked by turmoil and mistrust, with a breakdown in normal governance patterns and a resulting erosion of faculty rights on matters of central concern to the faculty. On some of these campuses the faculty's collective frustration has intensified to the point where they have voted no confidence in the incumbent president's leadership, policies, and practices.
The Statement on Government and derivative AAUP policy documents are abundantly clear that the faculty should be able to participate meaningfully in the selection, evaluation, and retention of institutional leadership. This Meeting deplores the apparent tendency of many governing boards to give little or no weight to faculty participation in these crucial matters.
The Association's New York State Conference has issued a “Profile for a Twenty-First- Century President” that supports principles of sound decision making in the selection and retention of college and university leadership. We commend the “Profile” as a template to the entire academic community.