Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Administration Violated Academic Good Practice

An AAUP investigating committee reports that, in suspending the faculty senate and refusing to grant governance rights to contingent faculty, the administration of RPI “contravened basic principles of shared academic governance.” 

AAUP Censures One, Sanctions Two, and Removes Censure from Two

Delegates to the Ninety-seventh Annual Meeting of the AAUP  voted on June 11 to place Bethune Cookman University on the AAUP’s list of censured administrations. In addition, the delegates voted to sanction Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Idaho State University. The annual meeting also voted to remove the University of New Orleans and Loyola University New Orleans  from its censured administration list.

Developments Relating to Association Censure and Sanction

The Association’s staff has prepared the following brief accounts of significant developments during the past year at institutions whose administrations have incurred AAUP censure (for departures from principles of academic freedom and tenure) or at institutions that are under AAUP sanction (for infringement of academic governance standards).

The Demise of Shared Governance at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

In early August 2007, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s newly appointed provost, Robert Palazzo, summarily suspended the university’s Faculty Senate. He claimed that the Rensselaer Faculty Senate (RFS) had failed to amend its constitution according to a directive from the university’s Board of Trustees. At the heart of debate were the disenfranchisement of nearly 200 faculty, and contention over who should be voting members of the Faculty Senate. In fall 2007, the Rensselaer faculty voted overwhelmingly for reinstatement of the Senate. The Board of Trustees, President Shirley Jackson, and the provost ignored this referendum despite AAUP concerns and negative national publicity. Until this impasse, the Faculty Senate had played an advisory role to the Office of the Provost and had participated in the governance and direction of scholarly activities and instruction at Rensselaer, a model of shared governance typical of many universities across the country.

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