Academic Freedom and Tenure Investigative Reports

Academic Freedom and Tenure: Community College of Aurora (Colorado)

This report concerns actions taken by the administration of the Community College of Aurora, during the fourth week of the fall 2016 semester, to terminate the appointment of part-time instructor of philosophy Nathanial Bork without affordance of academic due process. Mr. Bork was dismissed after conveying his intention to send to the college's accreditor a report detailing his “deep concerns” about the college’s Gateway to Success initiative, which modified certain entry-level liberal arts courses in an effort to improve their pass rates.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: Spalding University (Kentucky)

This report concerns actions taken by the administration of Spalding University to terminate the appointment of tenured professor of social work Erlene Grise-Owens after she criticized the administration’s handling of an incident involving a student who brought a gun to a campus parking lot. The social work school’s chair immediately alerted social work faculty about the incident—except the school’s three faculty members of color, even though the student was scheduled to attend class with one of them the next day.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The report of the investigating committee concerns the administration’s actions to suspend from her teaching responsibilities—initially, for stated safety concerns—a sixth-year doctoral student with a part-time appointment as lecturer for the 2017–18 academic year. The lecturer, Ms. Courtney Lawton, received threats after a video recording of her participation in a demonstration protesting an on-campus recruitment table for Turning Point USA was disseminated on the internet. The administration subsequently extended Ms. Lawton’s suspension through the end of her term of appointment, for stated reasons of misconduct but without affording her an appropriate hearing.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: St. Edward’s University (Texas)

This report concerns the dismissals of two tenured faculty members and the nonrenewal of a tenure-track faculty member at St. Edward’s University (SEU) in Austin, Texas, in violation of AAUP-recommended procedural standards and principles of academic freedom. According to the report, the SEU administration failed to afford the tenure-track professor timely notice of nonrenewal and a faculty appeal process, and it declined to afford the tenured professors a dismissal hearing before an elected faculty body. The AAUP investigating committee found credible the claims of all three faculty members that their criticisms of administrative decisions led to the actions against them.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: Nunez Community College (Louisiana)

This report concerns actions taken in spring 2018 by the administration of Nunez Community College to terminate the services of Professor Richard Schmitt following his twenty-second year on the faculty. These actions were taken in apparent violation of his academic freedom and without affordance of the protections of academic due process to which he was entitled as the result of having obtained de facto tenure at the institution through length of full-time service.

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