In 1900, when noted economist Edward Ross lost his job at Stanford University because Mrs. Leland Stanford didn't like his views on immigrant labor and railroad monopolies, other professors were watching. The incident stuck in the mind of Arthur O. Lovejoy, philosopher at Johns Hopkins. When he and John Dewey organized a meeting in 1915 to form an organization to ensure academic freedom for faculty members, the AAUP was born. At that time, the notion of "academic freedom" was still a novel concept.
More than a century later, the AAUP remains the leading organization primarily dedicated to protecting the academic freedom of professors. Academia has changed a lot since 1915, but there are still people who want to control what professors teach and write. Thanks to the AAUP, academic freedom is recognized as the fundamental principle of our profession. Despite this acceptance, academic freedom remains vulnerable. The attacks are more subtle in some cases, but the response must always be decisive.
In 2013, the AAUP restructured into three organizations. The AAUP remains a nonprofit membership association of faculty and other academic professionals, and now has two sister organizations:
The AAUP-CBC is a labor union; its members are those chapters of the AAUP that engage in collective bargaining. The AAUP-CBC promotes organizing among tenure-line and contingent faculty, academic professionals, and graduate employees and provides support to member chapters as they work to protect shared governance and academic freedom, to uphold professional standards and values,
The AAUP Foundation is a public charity; it funds, through its grant making process, the charitable and educational purposes of the AAUP, including support for academic freedom and quality higher education.
A variety of resources on the AAUP's history were developed as part of the organization's centennial celebration. These include a timeline highlighting key events in the AAUP's history and a series of special publications. For additional information, see the list of selected readings on the AAUP's history and the lists of presidents of the Association and general secretaries of the Association.