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Review of Policies on Financial Exigency and Program Discontinuance

March 24, 2011
Contact: Jordan Kurland

Washington, D.C.--Against a background of increasing pressure on publicly funded colleges and universities to reduce costs by eliminating faculty positions, the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure has authorized a subcommittee to review two of the AAUP’s key Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure—Regulation 4c (Financial Exigency) and Regulation 4d (Discontinuance of Program or Department Not Mandated by Financial Exigency).  Michael Bérubé (English, Pennsylvania State University), the chair of the subcommittee, describes its purpose as follows:

The AAUP's Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure make provision for program closings and terminations of appointments when universities face “financial exigency.”  “Exigency,” however, is defined as “an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means.”  It is becoming increasingly clear that the financial crises faced by many American colleges and universities are not “imminent” in this sense, and do not threaten “the survival of the institution as a whole.”  Rather, what we are seeing is a series of slow bleeds, crises brought on by austerity and attrition—especially at publicly funded institutions whose public funding has been dwindling for decades.  Committee A therefore has formed this subcommittee, which is devoted to the question of how the AAUP can best respond to program closings and terminations under such conditions, conditions which may not threaten entire institutions with imminent bankruptcy but which do threaten to transform American higher education as a whole.

In addition to Bérubé, members of the subcommittee are Gregory Brown (History, University of Nevada Las Vegas), Charles Clotfelter (Public Policy, Duke University), Matthew Finkin (Law, University of Illinois), Christopher Newfield (English, University of California Santa Barbara), Deanna Wood (Library Science, University of New Hampshire), Ronald Ehrenberg (Economics, Cornell University), consultant, Cary Nelson (English, University of Illinois), ex officio as AAUP president, David Rabban (Law, University of Texas), ex officio as Committee A chair, and Gary Rhoades (Higher Education), ex officio as AAUP general secretary. 

The subcommittee, with financial support provided by the Association’s Academic Freedom Fund, is scheduled to meet on April 11 in Washington, DC.  It intends to report on its progress at the spring meeting of Committee A on June 3 and 4. 

For more information, please contact Jordan Kurland .

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, shared governance and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has over 48,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Media Contact: 
Jordan Kurland
Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 24, 2011