AAUP Removes University of Iowa, Stillman College from List of Sanctioned/Censured Institutions

Washington, D.C. – Delegates to the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors voted today to remove the University of Iowa from the list of sanctioned institutions as well as removing Stillman College from the list of censured administrations. The AAUP places academic institutions on the sanction list for serious departures by the administration and/or governing board from generally accepted standards of college and university government, while the list of censured administrations involves cases where institutions have violated principles of academic freedom and tenure.

“We are very pleased that both institutions have taken the necessary steps to realign themselves with principles of academic freedom and shared governance,” said AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum. “The AAUP only removes institutions from our censure or sanction list after careful assessment of the climate for academic freedom or shared governance at the institution. The fact that institutions change their policies to conform to AAUP’s recommended guidelines shows that our censure and sanctions lists are effective tools for bringing about change that is necessary to ensure that higher education serves the common good.”

The University of Iowa was placed on the AAUP’s list of sanctioned administrations in 2016 following an investigation of the search process leading to the selection of Bruce Harreld as university president in 2015. In contrast to usual practice at the university, which had been to involve faculty fully in presidential searches, the AAUP’s investigation found that the governing board designed this search process specifically to prevent any meaningful faculty role in the selection of the final candidate. However, following the AAUP’s investigation, the university created a committee to address the violations in order to be removed from the sanctioned list. Members of university’s faculty senate, board of regents, and regents’ staff worked together to author a best-practices document on presidential searches addressing key concerns noted in the investigating committee’s report.

Recent reports from multiple faculty members described the current state of faculty-board relations at Iowa as the best in the past twenty years or more. An AAUP representative, who visited the institution on behalf of the Association, concluded, “The available evidence suggests that there is a genuine commitment to shared governance at UI, and it is reasonable to expect that the institution’s next presidential search will mark a return to the tradition of a strong faculty role.”

With the improved relations and changes to its governance, AAUP is pleased to announce the removal of the University of Iowa from its list of sanctioned administrations.

Stillman College was placed on the censure list in 2009 due to the dismissal of a tenured faculty member for violating a policy in the faculty handbook after he called for the resignation of the president in letters to the board and in interviews  to the media. Since its censure, Stillman College has changed administrations, and its present leadership and faculty demonstrated an interest in implementing changes that would lead to their removal from censure. A follow up report from May 2018 recognized that “Stillman College is on an upward trajectory with regard to academic freedom and shared governance…and the administration seems committed to continuing these changes.”

The AAUP is happy to have successfully worked with the current administration of Stillman College to implement changes and to announce its removal from the list of censured institutions.

Read the original investigative reports of these cases and statements recommending removal of censure and sanction.

Publication Date: 
Saturday, June 16, 2018