2023 AAUP In the News

12.16.2023 | Here’s why we fear a dystopian future for Florida’s universities | Column

They are abusing their political and administrative positions by seeking to limit the ideas to which Floridians will be exposed, and by doing so, controlling not just people’s actions in the present but also their thinking in the future.

12.14.2023 | The Biggest Threat to America’s Universities

"The State University System of Florida, which has more than 430,000 students, is under intense political assault by the state’s Republican government. The AAUP recently released a report titled “Political Interference and Academic Freedom in Florida’s Public Higher Education System,” which details a takeover of key administrative and oversight positions by partisan appointees and growing pressure on faculty members to avoid teaching anything that might be considered woke.

12.11.2023 | Why Defenders of Harvard’s President Are Focused on Academic Freedom

“We believe the best path to uncover truth is through open inquiry and robust debate,” Dr. Gay wrote. “Harvard understands that hatred is a symptom of ignorance. The cure for ignorance is knowledge. But the pursuit of truth is possible only when freedom of expression is protected and exercised. At Harvard, we will not allow discomfort or disagreement with opinions fairly expressed to impede this pursuit.”

12.10.2023 | Penn leadership upheaval could have a ‘chilling effect’ on college presidencies and university operations nationally

Risa Lieberwitz, professor of labor and employment law at Cornell University and general counsel for the AAUP said Magill’s resignation is an example of the effect of undue influence by both donors and politicians who are seeking to have control over what happens on campus and in classrooms.

That, she said, can have a “chilling effect that can occur on general discussions within universities about issues that are controversial or maybe difficult to discuss. And that’s part of academic freedom to be able to have those discussions.

12.09.2023 | Documenting the damage to higher education in Florida

The report lays out in disturbing detail the extent of the damage done to a once-great system by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Legislature and their allies in the higher education bureaucracy, which has been politicized to unprecedented levels, with disastrous results. As much as anything, this will be the destructive legacy DeSantis leaves behind when he leaves office in a few years.

12.07.2023 | Florida is showing red states how to dismantle higher education

Conscientious conservatives have taken note of how dangerous DeSantis’s crackdown on academic free speech is. The AAUP’s preliminary report features this observation from one dissenter: “I’m the faculty advisor for the Federalist Society, for the Law School Republicans, and for the Christian Legal Society. If they find me threatening, the rest of you are dead in the water. Be wary and be aware. If I don’t have academic freedom, neither do you. If you don’t, neither do I. We are in this together.”

11.29.2023 | Why Penn is in turmoil over the Israel-Hamas war, and what’s happening on campus right now

Penn’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors released an Oct. 28  letter citing concerns about trustee influence and harassment, asserting that “our university leadership has intensified fear and animosity by associating antisemitism and terrorism with an overly broad range of academic programming and political speech.”

11.17.2023 | Right-Wing Activist Chris Rufo Calls for “Siege” of University at UT

Polly Strong, president of the UT chapter of the AAUP, told Rufo that she believed in intellectual diversity but that a commitment to the concept wasn’t what she heard from him. She said her personal hero is John Dewey, the pragmatist philosopher who advocated for academic freedom, due process, and neutrality in higher learning and asked if Rufo supported those values.

11.15.2023 | Calls to police campus speech against Israel must be rejected

Speech against Israel and its actions does not constitute hate speech or antisemitism. Calls to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel, as well as structural analyses of Israel through the lens of apartheid or settler colonialism, lie in the realm of free speech and academic inquiry regardless of whether or not they are popular, and must not be the subjects of bans in an open society. - Op Ed by the Executive Committee of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities AAUP Chapter.

11.13.2023 | Southern Miss is one of the lowest-paid research schools. Some profs want to change that

Southern Miss is one of the nation's top research facilities, yet its faculty are paid well below the average of similarly rated institutions. The AAUP at the University of Southern Mississippi along with the United Campus Workers, and USM Faculty Senate, held a rally today to draw attention to the dire need for universitywide pay increases.

11.05.2023 | Syracuse University AAUP calls for greater academic freedom from administration amid Israel-Hamas war

The Syracuse University Chapter of the AAUP released a statement objecting to recent statements by Provost Ritter that appear to attempt to curtail free and open inquiry including expression of controversial ideas that some may consider wrong or offensive.

10.31.2023 | UT-Tyler admits tenured professor fired without due process, vows to rectify 'immediately'

In a letter to UT Tyler president Kirk Calhoun, the AAUP stated that the "administration’s action to dismiss Professor Koster without having first demonstrated adequacy of cause in a faculty hearing is fundamentally at odds with basic standards of academic due process."

10.25.2023 | AAUP Calls on School Leaders to Protect Faculty Expression on Gaza Conflict

“As the Israel-Hamas war rages and campus protests proliferate, institutional authorities must refrain from sanctioning faculty members for expressing politically controversial views and should instead defend their right, under principles of academic freedom, to do so.”

10.20.2023 | US university professors are tired of being Republican culture war targets

“The administration needs to defend and protect academic freedom all the time,” said Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP. “When an individual is attacked, the administration’s job is to step up with a robust defense of academic freedom,” Mulvey said. “Their job is to be the firewall against interference from the statehouse, wealthy donors, whomever.”

10.19.2023 | Conflicting Numbers Fly in Gallaudet Faculty Pay Quarrel

“While there has been a consistent message from the administration that we are not in a good place financially … the administrators have consistently received raises,” said Dani Hunt, the vice president of the G allaudet University AAUP chapter and a tenured associate professor in the department of interpretation and translation.

“What we want to see is a focus on academics, not administration."

10.05.2023 | Colleges Say They’re Cash-Strapped Yet Pay Top Dollar for Anti-Union Consultants

“The people who run academic institutions are often embedded in corporate, neoliberal logic,” Wolfson concluded. “This is how they operate. It’s more akin to a business model than one focused on faculty or students.” This, of course, is why the AAUP-AFT is fighting back.

10.04.2023 | Illinois State University faculty move to unionize

“It’s a really exciting moment for us. We’re sending a clear message that the faculty at ISU want a strong voice to advocate for the needs of our students, this institution, and our colleagues who are dedicated to them both.”

09.21.2023 | Will College Professors Flee the South? Survey Shows a Real Chance for ‘Brain Drain.’

As the survey stated: Academic freedom was identified by over 50% of respondents, while issues related to tenure and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) were mentioned by more than 40%. Shared governance, LGBTQ+ issues, and reproduction/abortion access were also significant factors for about 30% of respondents.

09.14.2023 | West Virginia Students, Faculty Cry Out on Final Day Before Vote on Deep Cuts

The American Association of University Professors sent a letter to Gee and Willis Miller Thursday—an initial step in a process that could lead to an AAUP investigation and the placement of WVU on AAUP’s list of censured institutions. That list warns scholars and the public that “unsatisfactory conditions of academic freedom and tenure have been found to prevail.”

09.07.2023 | In These Red States, Professors Are Eyeing the Exits

The survey was sponsored by the state conferences of the AAUP in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, along with the United Faculty of Florida and the Texas Faculty Association unions. The results, those organizations say, are proof of widespread dissatisfaction with political incursions into diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and tenure, among other areas.

08.29.2023 | Public University Accreditation Is Latest Front in Right-Wing War on Education

Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP, says that, “Accreditation has become a target in red states and by right-wing politicians because they’ve learned that robust and well-regarded accreditation presents a barrier to their attempts to inject partisan politics into higher education. They are dragging accreditors into this to dismantle that barrier. It’s an egregious violation of academic freedom.”

08.22.2023 | ‘Fair contract now:’ D’Youville University faculty members picket to protest lack of contract

“I hope that they would show us that they value us,” Finnegan says. “I mean, that’s the whole sort of feeling. As I said, we’re just an expense to be reduced. We’re not a value.”

08.21.2023 | Colleges, staff prepare for DEI changes as fall semester opens

“In a democracy, the roll of higher education is to be a public good,” said Irene Mulvey, AAUP president. "These laws are undermining that role and replacing the expertise of scholars and experts with what the government wants you to learn. It's a really dangerous authoritarian impulse to take over higher education."


08.14.2023 | Authoritarians Come for the Academy

Democracies lose their legitimacy as democracies when politicians interfere directly with the running of colleges and universities. Until very recently, the idea that the state is not supposed to be in the business of telling us what to think — or what not to think — was sacrosanct among the freedom-loving cold warriors of the Republican Party for whom countries like China and Russia were cautionary tales. But these “normie conservatives,” as the activist writer Rod Dreher calls them, are no longer in charge of their party.

08.04.2023 | Spartanburg Community College Faculty Criticize Administration's Governance

“The rest of the higher education sector knows that the AAUP stands for important principles and that they investigate carefully, that they make every effort to resolve issues short of (a) sanction,” said Dr. Carol Harrison, president of the AAUP’s South Carolina branch. “When the AAUP sanctions an institution, it is because there are things seriously amiss in the governance of that institution.”

08.04.2023 | No one is immune from attack, professors are warned in Tampa

No field is immune,” Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP, said Wednesday at the Tampa Convention Center, where the Mathematical Association of America hosted a gathering called MathFest.

“The demonization of higher ed is really unfortunate and higher ed has been dragged into the culture wars, whether we like it or not.”

07.14.2023 | A big hire imploded at Texas A&M. Conservatives are cheering.

Karma Chávez, chair of the Department of Mexican American & Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, said she is disturbed but not surprised by the power of outside groups to influence universities.

“What we see over and over again is that institutions of higher education are absolutely willing to fold when there is conservative pressure,” said Chávez, a member of the executive committee of UT-Austin’s chapter of the AAUP.

07.06.2023 | Are Florida laws chasing university faculty away? Some see a ‘brain drain.’

“It’s not safe here anymore on so many levels,” Ali-Khan said. “It’s not physically safe. It’s not economically safe. It’s not professionally safe. It’s not intellectually safe. That was not true when I got here.

06.17.2023 | The “anti-intellectual attack” on higher ed will take years to undo

Ultimately, these bills threaten democracy, said Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP, the organization that has long promoted the benefits of faculty tenure and intellectual freedom. By the AAUP’s count, there have been more than 50 such bills in 23 states.

“The bills have produced a chilling effect on academic freedom,” Mulvey said.

06.15.2023 | Real Faculty Wages Decline for Third Straight Year

“The average rates that are shown on the survey are absolute poverty wages,” she said. “For many parts of the country, you’d have to teach 20 classes in order to make a living." - Dr. Rebecca Givan, associate professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, pressident of Rutgers AAUP/AFT.

06.09.2023 | Fear and Confusion in the Classroom

“Sowing confusion and fear among faculty members about what they can and cannot teach may be the underlying and main goal of the curricular legislation as a package," says the AAUP's recently released preliminary report on academic freedom in Florida.

06.03.2023 | Conservatives seek control over public universities with state bills

“It’s a red-alert emergency” for anyone who cares about academic freedom, higher education and democracy, said Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors, which has been tracking more than 50 bills in 23 states. The commonality running through the bills, Mulvey said, is “an anti-intellectual attack, demonizing faculty, weaponizing public education.”

06.02.2023 | Anti-tenure bills stall in state legislatures

The AAUP, which fought hard against bills in multiple states, said tenure helps shield faculty and any unpopular research they conduct from political influence. The AAUP also contended that colleges in states with watered-down tenure could face recruitment challenges, as prospective faculty would prefer to find a job at an institution where traditional tenure was an option.

In some cases, policymakers heeded these warnings, and in others just couldn’t muster the political capital to see their bills through, as many closely-watched proposals failed during state sessions.

05.26.2023 | ‘More Cowardly Than Cautious’: Faculty Decry College Leaders’ Silence on DEI Attacks

"Our administration’s silence feels like a punch in the gut to those of us who are organizing against this anti-DEI, anti-truth legislation."

05.22.2023 | AAUP Censure of Collin College 'Can Have Very Real Consequences'

“Collin might like to pretend that the AAUP is just a little private interest club, but its principles and its good judgment about college governance has become foundational for a lot of parts of the higher education ecosystem,” Burnett said. “So, it's not only a mark against Collin College’s reputation; it can have very real consequences.”

05.19.2023 | Wave of Higher Ed Union Strikes Swells Nationwide

“We're in this really strange moment where — especially for bargaining in higher ed — it seems almost a requirement that you go on strike or at least take a strike authorization vote to win any sort of cost of living pay increases.”

05.15.2023 | DeSantis signs bill to defund DEI programs at Florida’s public colleges

“It’s basically state-mandated censorship, which has no place in a democracy,” Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors, said. Mulvey called the bill in Florida and other legislation like it a “dog whistle appeal” to the conservative base, and part of a “coordinated campaign to maintain white supremacy.”

05.10.2023 | Rutgers' Unions Ratify New Contracts, Formally Ending Strike

“This vote is the culmination of months of intense efforts by so many people who walked the picket lines and organized with their colleagues,” Dr. Rebecca Givan, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said in a statement. “Because of this commitment by our members, we made major gains in these contracts, especially for the most vulnerable and lowest-paid of the people we represent. We didn’t win everything we wanted. But what we did achieve is a testament to all of us, and we’re proud of it.”

04.29.2023 | What is tenure, and why do Ohio lawmakers want to change it?

Tenure gives professors the freedom to speak, teach and conduct research about a wide variety of issues, including those that are potentially controversial, without having their jobs at risk, says Anita Levy, acting director of the AAUP's department of academic freedom, tenure and governance. For many, it's also a badge of authority or honor, distinguishing them in their field.

"Academic freedom and tenure are connected... Academic freedom requires tenure to exist," Levy said.

04.26.2023 | New College of Florida denies five professors tenure, defying student, faculty critics

AAUP president Irene Mulvey castigated trustees’ interference in academic matters. Their efforts are “an egregious violation of widely-accepted standards of collegiate shared governance,” Mulvey said. “American higher education is organized around the principle that decisions about teaching and research must be made by academics with scholarly expertise in the appropriate field.”

04.25.2023 | AAUP Condemns Collin College on Academic Freedom

The AAUP investigating committee found that the Collin administration’s actions involved “egregious violations” of all three faculty members’ academic freedom to speak as citizens and to criticize institutional policies. The report concludes that the conditions for shared governance and academic freedom at Collin College are “grossly inadequate.

04.22.2023 | Strikes on campus: A chance to take back college from the corporations

The public defunding of universities, along with their seizure by corporations and the über-rich, is part of the slow-motion corporate coup d'état.

04.17.2023 | GOP states targeting diversity, equity efforts in higher ed

The AAUP, which has about 45,000 members nationwide, said the bills mischaracterize DEI initiatives.

"They’re dog whistling that DEI initiatives are something sinister and subversive that people should be afraid of, and that’s not true at all,” association President Irene Mulvey said.

04.15.2023 | Rutgers, unions reach tentative deal to end strike

“This framework sets a new standard. Our members have struck to transform higher education in the State of New Jersey and across this country,” Becky Givan, president of the union Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said in a statement through Murphy’s office.

04.11.2023 | This is what led to the Rutgers strike as a wave of activism hits colleges

“For many of us who are older, the U.S. is almost unrecognizable with how expensive the core needs of housing, education, and transportation are,” said Donna Murch, president of New Brunswick chapter of Rutgers AAUP-AFT.. “Part of the way that I see this is a response to incredible social inequality. How do we push back to make work and wages and benefits more equitable for all.”

04.10.2023 | Students, faculty defend DEI at Texas colleges as lawmakers consider banning such efforts

The legislation “will have a devastating effect on recruitment of top-tier faculty, postdocs, graduate students and even undergraduates,” said AAUP president Irene Mulvey. “Top-tier faculty won’t come here.”

04.03.2023 | Florida bill would bring bans on gender studies and critical race theory to colleges and universities

“The fields that are being threatened are fields that challenge the status quo, and these are well-established, respected disciplines,” said Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors. “They enrich academia. They enrich our civilization, but they’re being dragged into the culture wars now. These bills are an attempt by people in power to maintain the status quo at the expense of a free and open democratic society.”

03.25.2023 | Academic Workers at Rutgers University in New Jersey Are Poised to Strike

"As bad as precarity is for adjuncts, it’s also terrible for students. So we anticipate, to the degree that we can win these demands, that we can change the relationship between adjuncts and the university, and therefore also change the relationship of a lot of students with their university."

03.24.2023 | UT scientist: Killing tenure would ruin the state's research universities

Without tenure, and with restrictions on what content is or is not allowed to be taught and discussed on our campuses, the best and the brightest faculty — the research groundbreakers — will go to other states. Is that what we want for research in our state, and for Texas’s students?

03.16.2023 | 'We can’t take this lying down.' Draconian bill aimed at OSU, other colleges

Ohio Senate Bill 83, just introduced in the Ohio Senate, brings Florida to Ohio in terms of the vicious attacks on higher ed: bans on public university strikes, elimination of academic freedom, and restrictions on/prohibitions of ethnic studies, gender studies curricula.

03.09.2023 | Academics fight moves to defund diversity programmes at US universities

“When you see elected leaders demonizing educators and weaponizing education, it’s a five-alarm fire for democracy,” says Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP in Washington DC. “It important to understand that when governors attack DEI efforts, they completely mischaracterize them to create a straw-man demon that they now have to do away with."

03.09.2023 | Academics fight moves to defund diversity programmes at US universities

“When you see elected leaders demonizing educators and weaponizing education, it’s a five-alarm fire for democracy,” says Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP in Washington DC. “It important to understand that when governors attack DEI efforts, they completely mischaracterize them to create a straw-man demon that they now have to do away with."

03.07.2023 | One of US’s Largest Public Universities Could See First Strike in Its 257 Years

Over the last decade at Rutgers, intensive rank-and-file organizing translated into significant gains for our non-tenure-track faculty, who are part of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT along with tenured and tenured-track faculty. They won a decent base salary, a promotion process with corresponding salary increases, long-term contracts of up to seven years, and a robust grievance process. Now we are fighting for tenure to become accessible to non-tenure-track teaching faculty.

03.05.2023 | Florida bills would ban gender studies, limit trans pronouns, erode tenure

Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP, warned that the legislation — especially the bill that would prevent students from majoring in certain topics — threatens to undermine academic freedom.

“The state telling you what you can and cannot learn, that is inconsistent with democracy,” Mulvey said. “It silences debate, stifles ideas and limits the autonomy of educational institutions which made American higher education the envy of the world.”

02.27.2023 | National organizations condemn Florida bill that would bring major higher ed changes

"This is a gut punch to anyone who values academic freedom and higher education's role in our democracy," said Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP.

02.22.2023 | Collective bargaining rights for academic workers will strengthen our public higher education institutions

Faculty on temporary contracts are effectively muzzled. They fear losing their jobs if they speak up. When the people doing the teaching can’t speak up, students lose out. Maryland legislators should allow faculty and graduate assistants the right to choose collective bargaining.

02.20.2023 | Is a Merger a Closure by Another Name?

Although the Montclair and Bloomfield administrations have expressed an aspiration to hire as many Bloomfield faculty members as possible, no clear information or offers have been extended, and the faculty isn’t due to be notified until March 1, which is four months before the closing of Bloomfield and the loss of our current jobs.

02.18.2023 | Faculty, students rally against 15 majors being cut from Utica University

It's a pretty devastating announcement for a lot of people. The response to that in terms of how our community has kind of resisted that has been fantastic. And it means so much to all of us to feel that we have this community here because that’s what we really ultimately want to preserve. We really value the importance of this institution and our different respective roles in it. And to be able to work together to try to ensure that future is something that is really valuable to us.”- Douglas Edwards, Vice-President, AAUP-Utica

02.15.2023 | Gov. DeSantis’ conservative takeover of a liberal arts college could silence diversity, critics say

Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP, said she believes DeSantis is targeting diversity programs for political advantage, which she called “extremely dangerous.”

This could result in Florida colleges struggling to retain students and recruit faculty, Mulvey said. People pursuing graduate degrees might opt for schools in other states that support academic freedom, she said.

“The consequences for students are enormous,” Mulvey said. “They are denied the opportunity to learn and grow, students are denied the opportunity to hear important perspectives. That’s the real tragedy.”

02.06.2023 | Florida is trying to roll back a century of gains for academic freedom

The gravest threat to academic freedom comes from a legal argument Florida has advanced in defense of the Stop WOKE Act. The legislation is part of a wave of “educational gag orders” banning the teaching of “divisive concepts.” Violations can trigger disciplinary action against faculty and enormous fines for their universities. In a brief filed in federal court, Florida’s lawyers contend that faculty at public universities are government employees, in-classroom speech is “government speech” and the state “has simply chosen to regulate its own speech” with the Stop WOKE Act.

02.03.2023 | Outrage follows Florida college presidents statement

Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP, said the statement fails to "defend academic freedom or challenge the false narrative put forth by DeSantis and others that discussing important topics in the classroom is somehow akin to indoctrination."

02.01.2023 | They’ve Been Scheming to Cut Tenure for Years. It’s Happening.

By the year 2050, tenure will be either the purview of a few scholars at elite schools, or it won’t exist at all. Academic freedom will be as good as gone.

01.30.2023 | Utica University faculty senate vote to censure Board of Trustees

"We felt a duty to unite and do something to try to save the institution. That's why we then voted for a formal censure of the Board of Trustees.," said Leonore Fleming, a philosophy professor at Utica University and the president of the Utica University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

01.20.2023 | National faculty group ‘appalled’ by Florida’s stand on critical race theory

In a statement Friday, the American Association of University Professors condemned Florida’s college presidents for committing this week to root out course content promoting “critical race theory or related concepts” by Feb. 1.

“The hypocrisy is glaring, as has been the case so often recently in Florida,” the statement said. “But the danger is very real. Censorship of ideas has absolutely no place in a democracy.”

01.17.2023 | UIC faculty union goes on strike

“The campus is thriving, but many faculty are not,” Nicole Nguyen, a member of the union’s bargaining team and associate professor of criminology, law and justice said. “We have spent the past three years scrambling to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and our whole community — students and faculty — are exhausted. Management needs to invest in resources that strengthen our entire community.”

01.15.2023 | DeSantis turns eye towards progressive woke war

“Tenure is what protects academic freedom for faculty in higher education – it’s necessary so faculty can promote the free and vigorous open exchange of ideas … without fear of being fired,” said Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP. “Trying to take away tenure from faculty is an age-old strategy from the totalitarian playbook to attack education to stop students from learning ideas the state disagrees with.”


01.08.2023 | Conservatives take aim at tenure for university professors

Traditionally, tenured professors can be terminated only under extreme circumstances, such as professional misconduct or a financial emergency. Advocates for tenure say it is a crucial component of academic freedom — especially as controversy grows over scholarly discussions about history and identity.

Without tenure, faculty are “liable to play it safe when it comes time to have a classroom discussion about a difficult topic,” said Irene Mulvey, president of the AAUP.

01.04.2023 | The Great Resignation at Community Colleges

Community colleges across the country are struggling to recruit and hire new people after losing faculty and staff members in droves during the pandemic. The number of community college faculty members dropped 8.6 percent, from fall 2019 to to fall 2020, according to a report from the American Association of University Professors. Faculty members in career and technical education fields have been particularly difficult to retain as private sector employers offer higher pay to fill their own workforce gaps.

01.03.2023 | Muzzled by DeSantis, Critical Race Theory Professors Cancel Courses or Modify Their Teaching

As fewer faculty members are protected by tenure, they’re finding it harder to resist laws that ban certain racial topics. Their students suffer the consequences.

“I’m completely unprotected…Somebody sees the course catalog, complains to a legislator — next thing I know, I’m out of a job.” “This is what I teach. This is what I study. There’s tremendous value in students learning about these things.”