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UIUC AAUP Chapter Report

By John E. Prussing

Here on the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois, we are living in interesting times. Our monthly AAUP Chapter Policy Committee meetings are replete with interesting topics for discussion, to put it mildly. Since May the admissions “controversy” or “crisis” or ”scandal” has been a primary topic for the Policy Committee, the Faculty-Student Senate, and for faculty, students, and administrators across campus.

Early in the controversy our Policy Committee published a letter in our local newspaper stating that it “strongly endorses the principle that the University has the right to autonomously determine and implement its admissions process. This is essential to maintain the integrity of the admissions process, which is central to the educational mission and reputation of the University. Admission decisions should not be influenced by pressures from those outside the University in state government, University trustees, donors, alumni, or those within the University who are not responsible for admissions. This principle extends equally to the operation of University courses.”

Following the report of the Admissions Review Commission (“Mikva Commission”) and the subsequent resignation of most of the UI Board of Trustees, our Policy Committee issued as a press release an open letter to Governor Quinn concerning principles that should govern the reconstitution of the Board of Trustees (BOT). We cited the AAUP Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities and the UI Statutes.

This September the UIUC Faculty-Student Senate passed a resolution calling for “an orderly transition to new leadership” for the positions of UI President and UIUC Chancellor. Before the vote our AAUP Policy Committee discussed whether to endorse this resolution, but we did not due to a lack of consensus — opinions varied widely. After the vote President B. Joseph White tendered his letter of resignation effective December 31, 2009 and stated that he will forgo a substantial retention bonus due in the spring. As of this writing, any action by Chancellor Richard Herman or by the BOT is pending.

As the dust settles, our Policy Committee will continue to meet with campus and university administrators, as is our custom. This November we meet with Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Robert Easter. Later we plan to meet with Vice President for Academic Affairs Mrinalini (Meena) Rao. Topics to be discussed include Furlough Policy and the state-mandated Positive Time Reporting. And in the spring we will host our annual Tenure Workshop: Achieving Tenure and Promotion, which is a very well attended event.

John E. Prussing
President, UIUC AAUP Chapter