Developments Relating to Association Sanction

Every spring the Association’s staff prepares brief accounts of significant developments during the previous year at institutions on the Association’s censure and sanction lists. Members of the staff, acting on behalf of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and of the Committee on College and University Governance, communicate semiannually with the administrations of listed institutions, offering assistance in taking the steps necessary for removal.

For information about the status of other institutions on our censure and sanction lists (printed elsewhere in this issue), please contact the Association’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance at [email protected].


National University was one of seven institutions included in the AAUP’s 2021 special report, COVID-19 and Academic Governance, that were placed on the Association’s list of institutions sanctioned for substantial noncompliance with standards of academic government.

Prior to the investigation that led to the imposition of sanction, the university’s governing documents had been premised on a commitment to shared authority and joint action. Indeed, the Faculty Policies had included a negotiated agreement that read in part, “National University agrees generally with the philosophy in the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, which indicates that shared governance allows National University to benefit from the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of its Faculty and provides a structure that includes the elected Faculty governance bodies.”

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic underway, as described in the report, the university’s president announced at a virtual “town hall” meeting “the need to take quick and decisive action.” That action, taken unilaterally by the administration with the concurrence of the institution’s governing board, included the suspension of the Faculty Policies and the issuance of the administration’s own version of the faculty handbook, the abrogation of all faculty contracts, and the replacement of an elected faculty senate with a university senate. In taking these actions, the report concluded, the administration and governing board of National University thoroughly violated AAUP-supported principles and practices of academic governance as set forth in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.

On October 1, 2022, a new president took office. Soon after his appointment, according to an officer of the university’s AAUP chapter, he met with the chapter leadership and agreed to pursue the potential removal of sanction. Members of the Association’s staff met virtually with the president, the provost, and the president’s executive assistant on January 4, 2023. At that meeting, the president and provost informed the staff that the administration and faculty had begun jointly revising the university’s governance structures and the faculty handbook. The Association’s staff will continue to monitor these promising developments.