Phi Beta Cons

How Many Divisions Has the AAUP?

In a conference in the Kremlin, someone once mentioned the possible negative impact of Soviet policy on the Vatican and Stalin is supposed to have remarked, “How many divisions has the Pope?” We might similarly ask, “How many divisions has the AAUP” after reading about its vote to censure the University of Illinois over its decision against finalizing the faculty contract with Professor Steven Salaita.  This Chronicle story has the details.

When the AAUP votes to censure a school’s administration, that means what, exactly? As we read here, it means that the AAUP has declared the school not to be in compliance with the association’s views about tenure and academic freedom; it also means that members are supposed to look elsewhere (to compliant institutions) for employment. How many people seeking a faculty position today are apt to cross Illinois off the list due to the fact that it is on the AAUP censured list? I would hazard to guess, zero.

In that same story, we read that the AAUP voted to censure the University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center because — horrors! — it has a policy of not awarding tenure, but instead employing faculty under seven-year contracts.

Finally, we find out that Yeshiva University has been taken off the list because its officials now appear “committed to a strong tenure system.” How long had Yeshiva suffered under the pain of AAUP censure? Since 1982.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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