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Crisis at the University of Northern Iowa

For more information:  Marian Wilson Kimber, chapter president
For Release:  March 29, 2012
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Iowa, City, IA- Today, The University of Iowa chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) expressed its support for and solidarity with its sister AAUP chapter at the University of Northern Iowa, United Faculty with the following statement.

The University of Iowa chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) expresses its support for and solidarity with its sister AAUP chapter at the University of Northern Iowa, United Faculty.  The importance of the upcoming investigation by the national AAUP of the actions of UNI’s administration must be understood by all higher education constituencies.  If that investigation results in censure for UNI, it could have devastating effects for public higher education in Iowa, most immediately for UNI, but also for the reputation and operations of the other Regents institutions.

For almost a century, AAUP has been devoted to the furtherance of academic freedom and shared governance in our nation’s colleges and universities.  Its primary publication, AAUP Policy Document & Reports, sets forth the definitive standards for sound academic practice, accepted and followed nationwide.  The University of Iowa chapter is an “advocacy” chapter, one with no collective bargaining responsibilities.  The UNI chapter, United Faculty, is the exclusive bargaining representative for the faculty. 

According to media reports and the accounts of UNI faculty, implementation of budget cuts at UNI has produced a chaotic situation at that institution.  The prognosis for some departments and programs varies wildly from day to day.  Tenured faculty members are fired or pressured to take inadequate “early retirement” packages while hiring in other areas continues and administrators fail to respond to legitimate inquiries.  AAUP requirements for consultation with the faculty regarding academic programs are violated.  Although UNI is still in session as students and faculty approach the end of the semester, the atmosphere there is antithetical to teaching and learning. 

On March 16, 2012, Prof. Gregory Scholtz, Director of AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance, wrote to UNI President Benjamin Allen informing him of the decision of AAUP’s national office to launch a formal investigation of UNI.  That investigation should begin soon.  One possible outcome is the listing of UNI on AAUP’s national list of censured institutions.  Although the primary burden of such a designation would fall upon the faculty, administration and students at UNI, it would also bring national disrepute on the other Regents institutions in Iowa.  Inclusion on the censure list will make it more difficult for Iowa’s public universities to hire and retain qualified faculty and staff, and to attract good students.  Iowa undergraduate and graduate degrees will carry less distinction.  The University of Iowa AAUP chapter calls upon the UNI administration, the Board of Regents, and state legislators to abide by long-established AAUP principles and procedures in the operation of Iowa’s public universities, and to plan for the long term protection of important state institutions, while responding to short range budget deficits. 

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has approximately 47,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Media Contact: 
Marian Wilson Kimber
Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 29, 2012