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Risa L. Lieberwitz Appointed AAUP General Counsel

Washington, DC-- Risa L. Lieberwitz has been appointed to serve as general counsel of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Lieberwitz is a professor of labor and employment law in the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where she has been on the faculty since 1982. She is a member of the executive committee of the Worker Institute at Cornell and a codirector of the Cornell University Law and Society minor. From 1979 to 1982, she was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the regional office in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo credit: Rachel Philipson

Lieberwitz is an expert on academic freedom, with published articles including “University-Industry Relations in the U.S.: Serving Private Interests,” in Academic Freedom In Conflict: The Struggle Over Free Speech Rights in the University (James L. Turk, ed. 2014), “Faculty in the Corporate University: Professional Identity, Law, and Collective Action,” in the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy (2007), and “Confronting the Privatization and Commercialization of Academic Research: An Analysis of Social Implications at the Local, National, and Global Levels,” in the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies (2005). She has been active in the Cornell Faculty Senate and has served on special committees on academic freedom, shared governance, and standards for university-industry relations. Lieberwitz served on the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2012 to 2014.

“We are looking forward to working with Professor Lieberwitz, who is a top notch legal scholar with experience in First Amendment issues and academic freedom as well as labor issues,” says Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the AAUP. “She has already contributed to the Association’s work as a member of our Committee A and as the primary author of our amicus brief to the NLRB on whether faculty at Point Park University should be eligible for unionization under the National Labor Relations Act.”

Lieberwitz will work closely with the AAUP’s legal staff to pursue Association activities, which include advising on higher education legal issues; preparing amicus briefs; monitoring legal developments in higher education around the country; and keeping the Association apprised of new and emerging legal issues that may have implications in areas such as academic freedom, labor and employment law, freedom of expression, and intellectual property rights.

“At its one hundredth anniversary, the AAUP remains the preeminent voice for the rights of faculty in higher education,” Lieberwitz says. “The AAUP has been steadfast in its mission to protect academic freedom and due process through its policy work and investigations in support of academic freedom and shared governance, representation of faculty in collective bargaining, and legal advocacy in the courts.”

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. The AAUP is a nonprofit professional association headquartered in Washington, DC.

Media Contact: 
Aaron Nisenson,, AAUP Senior Counsel
Publication Date: 
Thursday, August 21, 2014