[Vision2020] AAUP Convention Delegates Sanction ISU

nickgier at roadrunner.com nickgier at roadrunner.com
Sun Jun 12 12:20:03 PDT 2011

Good Morning Visionaries,

The ISU administration claims that AAUP sanction will have no effect, but already faculty and administrators are leaving.

In 1989 Elizabeth Zinser refused to accept the UI presidency until AAUP censure was listed.  The UI was censured because of the Lois Pace case.  The faculty union raised $40,000 for her legal fees and she won all of that back plus $2,000 per month for life.  Lois is still going strong after 30 year!  Seven other laid-ff faculty members rode on the wave of her victory and the final settlement exceeded $1 million.

In order to be removed from censure the SBOE was forced to issue some of the best due process protections for faculty in the nation.  Last winter the SBOE ran an end-run those policies. This time in order to allow the SBOE to come to its senses, the AAUP did not sanction it but only the ISU administration.

In the article below please look at this small list of piddly colleges.  ISU is the only large public universities on this black list.

Nick Gier, President, IFT Higher Education Council and proud AAUP member


Vailas administrationc alls AAUP action ‘meaningless’

BY JOHN O’CONNELL  June 12, 2011

POCATELLO — The membership of an organization that’s represented university professors for nearly a century voted unanimously Saturday to sanction Idaho State University for poor faculty governance practices.
The roughly 200 delegates at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors, hosted in Washington, D.C., added ISU to a list of sanctioned institutions that includes just four other names. Also on the list are Elmira College, Antioch College, Lindenwood University and Miami Dade College.
The AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance made the recommendation to the delegates based on a report prepared by the organization’s staff. The organization took great umbrage with the decision of the State Board of Education, at the request of ISU President Arthur Vailas, to suspend the university’s Faculty Senate. The ISU administration subsequently held elections for a provisional Faculty Senate, charged with drafting a constitution for the institution. AAUP officials also voiced their displeasure that ISU prohibited the provisional Faculty Senate from meeting during the summer.

   “The report concludes that the administration acted in direct violation of widely accepted principles and standards of academic governance by severely restricting the faculty’s decision-making role, by suppressing faculty dissent and by recommending the abolition of the Faculty Senate, and with it, the remnants of shared governance at ISU,” the committee’s statement to the delegates reads. “While the recent election of a provisional Faculty Senate had initially provided some grounds for hope of an acceptable resolution, the administration’s reaction to the provisional senate’s initial actions confirms faculty assertions of the administration’s consistently acting at odds with principles of shared governance.”

   Many within ISU worry the sanction could impair ISU’s ability to recruit new faculty, grow enrollment, secure grants and procure donations from supporters.

   ISU officials, however, have downplayed the significance of both the AAUP and its list of sanctioned universities.
   “The vote is absolutely meaningless,” said ISU spokesman Mark Levine. “They represent a meaningless number of national faculty members. It’s a vote from an organization that represents less than 3 percent of U.S. faculty.
   “There’s no hard evidence that their vote has ever affected any American school significantly. It will not impact the university in terms of its trajectory in areas of student recruitment, being a place where good faculty want to come and do research, it’s not going to impact our donors and ability to acquire government grants and philanthropic support.”

   One of ISU’s major donors, Jim Rogers, owner of Intermountain West Communications/KPVI-TV, strongly disagrees with Levine’s prediction regarding financial contributions. Rogers also believes that by minimizing the AAUP’s significance, the administration adds “insult to injury.”

   Rogers reasons the AAUP’s arguments are fundamentally sound, and ISU would be wise to heed the group’s concerns, even if it had no more than two members.

   Be that as it may, he considers the AAUP to be “not a minor player” and gave the organization a $50,000 donation a few years ago.

   Rogers believes the sanction will cripple ISU’s efforts to recruit the most qualified out-of-state professors.
   “And when you talk about donors, donors go with winners. Donors don’t go with losers,” he added.

   Personally, Rogers plans to honor his past commitments to ISU. As for future commitments, he said he’s “maxed out” anyway with his contributions to ISU.

   Rogers places the blame for the ongoing governance concerns at the feet of Vailas. Rogers is a former chancellor of the higher education system in Nevada, serving as CEO of all eight institutions in the state and 16,000 employees.

   He’s never had to deal with a vote of no confidence, noting the vast majority of ISU faculty recently voted no confidence in Vailas.

   “There’s something very sick at that school, and Art Vailas I think is at the core of it,” Rogers said. “I was shocked when I heard about the potential for a vote of no confidence. I talked to Art several times about it. Art is not a very good listener. He’s very stubborn. He’s inflexible. It is his way or no way because he thinks he’s right.
   “I told him never to call me anymore.”

   The Vailas administration declined to respond to Rogers’ comments.

   Another high-profile source, New York Times blogger Stanley Fish, sided with the ISU administration in a national online-only opinion piece he posted on June 6, entitled “Faculty Governance in Idaho.”

   “The AAUP ... sides with the professors and concludes that the Idaho State administration has ‘acted in direct violation of widely accepted principles and standards of shared governance as set forth in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities. In short, you didn’t do what we told you to do, a judgment that might have some force if the Idaho State administration worked for the AAUP. But since it doesn’t, I suspect that this finding of guilt will neither settle the matter nor bring an imposed peace to a fractured landscape,” Fish wrote.

   When the AAUP first released the report based on its staff research into the matter, ISU responded with a 20-page letter defending its actions and questioning the organization’s impartiality. The ISU response likened the AAUP to a “major faculty union.”

   “The truth of the matter is what constitutes a legitimate agency for the functioning of institutional governance is determined by the governing board. In the state of Idaho, the governing board is the Idaho State Board of Education,” the Vailas administration’s response reads.

   The letter also questioned why the AAUP made no effort to interview any administrators in the process of conducting its investigation.

   Prior to the vote by the AAUP’s delegates, group member Phil Cole, an ISU physics professor and the chairman of the dissolved Faculty Senate and the replacement body, read a statement offering his perspective on the events that led to the vote.

   “ISU faculty fully understand curriculum, teaching, and research, but our expertise has been silenced. ... It is my hope that the actions of the AAUP today, despite their distressing nature, will help to set Idaho State University on the proper path for fully realizing its potential,” Cole said in his concluding remarks.

   Cole noted more than 200 professional societies covering all fields of academia have adopted the AAUP’s Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure as an important document. Though it’s too early to know what, if any, effect the sanction will have on ISU, as Cole points out, the journals from many professional societies will now place an asterisk by any listing for a job at ISU.

   “It’s a black mark,” Cole said. “It’s very hard to get rid of it. It requires complete restructuring of an administration’s viewpoint. Now we’re going to be viewed as the institution that is out of control.”

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