NCHE and AAUP Letter to the College of DuPage Board of Trustees
May 4, 2009
To the Trustees of the College of DuPage:
In March of this year our respective organizations, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the advocacy group for higher education faculty and staff within the National Education Association (NEA), communicated to the previous board of trustees of the College of DuPage our concerns about a proposed new policy manual, which had apparently been revised with no faculty involvement. Our concerns spoke to issues of procedure—involving principles of sound academic governance—and to issues of substance—involving principles of academic freedom. Both are connected to, and potentially compromise the quality of, students’ education.
The proposed provisions, which the outgoing board adopted on April 16, were apparently developed with no meaningful faculty involvement and contrary to the college’s well-established and board-endorsed collaborative processes of shared governance (set forth in Policy and Procedure 1001) for revising the manual. Moreover, those provisions which derive from the so-called “Academic Bill of Rights” (ABOR) constitute a threat to academic freedom. Both the NEA and the AAUP are members of Free Exchange on Campus, a broad coalition of academic groups and professional associations which have consistently opposed these proposals. Finally, in 2003 the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure issued a statement calling the ABOR “improper and dangerous” and noting that the principles in the Academic Bill of Rights “contradict academic freedom”
Both the full-time and contingent faculty at the College of DuPage are represented by unions affiliated with the NEA and its state affiliate, the Illinois Education Association. It is our understanding that after tabling the provisions for further review no additional discussion took place with any persons or organizations that had raised questions about the policies. Yet, the outgoing board proceeded to approve what in our view were seriously flawed proposals. This despite the fact that the AAUP, the NEA, and other groups had indicated that the policies raised serious concerns as to the impact of these changes on the quality of the education available to the students, and good working relations with faculty, staff, students, and the community. We believe that such a process constitutes poor academic, educational, and management practice.
The AAUP and the NCHE strongly encourage the new board of trustees to vote on May 4 to overturn the provisions in the “Academic Bill of Rights,” and the other policies which threaten academic freedom. We also urge that the board overturn all of the other policy changes enacted by the previous board without adequate consultation with the faculty and input from other campus constituencies, and begin a new process in accordance with the principles of shared governance we have commended to your attention. We commend to your attention a letter along these lines from the executive committee of the Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors. The educational quality and academic reputation of the College of DuPage are at stake. We hope that in the interests of your students, your faculty and staff, and your institution, you choose to reverse the most recent board’s misguided actions.
James Rice, President, National Council for Higher Education
Gary Rhoades, General Secretary, American Association of University Professors