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Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee

by Peter N. Kirstein

The Illinois Conference of AAUP has revived its Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. For years the committee lay dormant. Its current members are Peter N. Kirstein, chair, kirstein@sxu.edu, Matthew Abraham (DePaul), matthew.mabraha2@gmail.com, Kurt Field (Bradley), kwf@bumail.bradley.edu, and John Wilson (Academe editor, collegefreedom@yahoo.com). Committee A is constituted to serve all members of the professoriate in the state of Illinois in areas concerning tenure and academic freedom. AAUP frequently receives inquiries from non-members as well as members: we hope they join after their experience with the organization. While the national office has more heft and has the power of administration censorship, our conference Committee A can and has advised faculty who have been denied promotion or tenure and who construe some specific violation of their academic freedom as having occurred. We have had numerous inquiries from faculty all across the state including some from Northwestern University, DePaul University, Lewis University and Blackburn College. As warranted, Committee A will examine records, letters, résumés and other documents to determine whether AAUP guidelines have been violated.

I would urge individuals to consider contacting the chair or any member of Committee A. The member will determine if the situation can be handled on an individual basis or whether full committee involvement is necessary. Advice will be given whether national should be notified and whether the entire Illinois Council should be informed of a possible violation of academic due process and academic freedom. We recognize that college and university faculty are at increased risk in this country due to financial challenges, the growing demand for conformity and the avoidance of controversy and a general belief that professors should merely transmit to their students the parameters of the existing order without critical thinking or dissent. Yet this Committee A will assist those who need us to the best of our abilities with objectivity, skill and courage.

Members of Committee A are also available to speak without charge on your campus on issues concerning academic freedom and tenure.

Peter N. Kirstein, Chair, Illinois AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure