Collin College and Emporia State University Added to Censure List

After review of investigative reports on Emporia State University and Collin College and on the recommendation of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the Council of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has voted to censure the administrations of both institutions.

The AAUP’s investigative report on Emporia State University, published May 1, found that the Emporia State administration and the Kansas Board of Regents disregarded AAUP-recommended standards in terminating thirty tenured and tenure-track faculty members, thus violating the joint 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and Regulation 4 of the Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The report also found that the board’s enactment and reactivation of an emergency COVID-19-related policy allowed system institutions to disregard existing university regulations with respect to AAUP-supported principles and procedural standards. The board’s action thus initiated a process that assaulted tenure and imperiled academic freedom at Emporia State University. The investigating committee concluded that the termination of faculty appointments, the “realignment” of curricular programs, and the development and approval of the university’s “Framework for Workforce Management” all occurred without meaningful faculty involvement, demonstrating “that conditions for academic governance at Emporia State are deficient.”

The full AAUP report on Emporia State University can be downloaded here.

The AAUP’s investigative report on Collin College concerns the administration’s summary termination of the services of Professors Lora Burnett, Suzanne Jones, and Michael Phillips. The 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, and, in the case of Phillips, of academic freedom in teaching. The committee determined that the administration dismissed Jones and Phillips from their appointments without a pre-termination hearing before an elected faculty body in which the burden of demonstrating adequate cause for dismissal rests with the administration. The committee also found that the administration failed to afford Burnett the opportunity to petition an elected faculty committee to review her allegation that the decision not to renew her contract violated her academic freedom.

The report concludes that the conditions for academic freedom and shared governance at Collin College are grossly inadequate. The full report on Collin College is available here. In an op-ed published this week in Inside Higher Education, AAUP president Irene Mulvey responded to the Collin College administration’s comments on the investigative report and explained why those comments betrayed fundamental misunderstandings of academic freedom, shared governance, and the role of the AAUP.

Both Emporia State University and Collin College have been added to the AAUP’s list of censured administrations. For more about AAUP censure, click here.

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, May 16, 2023