U.S. professors take stand against executive order on immigration — we can, too

Thousands of professors from across the U.S. have signed on to a letter protesting the president’s January 27 Executive Order banning the entry of refugees and immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and four other predominantly Muslim countries into the United States:

“The people whose status in the United States would be reconsidered are our students, friends, colleagues, and members of our communities,” the professors write. “The implementation will necessarily tear families apart by restricting entry for family members who live outside of the U.S. and limiting the ability to travel for those who reside and work in the U.S. These restrictions would be applied to nearly all individuals from these countries, regardless of their immigration status or any other circumstances. This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part. It is inhumane, ineffective, and un-American.”

Click here for the full letter and instructions for how to sign on.


The concerns raised in the letter are of course applicable to WMU faculty and students. Two incidents that occurred this weekend hit particularly close to home:

  • A Stanford graduate student originally from Sudan was detained and handcuffed at JFK airport in New York on Saturday. The student, a Harvard graduate, is a legal resident of the United States, where she has lived since 1993.
  • Two faculty members at UMass Dartmouth, Dr. Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Dr. Arghavan Louhghalam, were detained at Logan airport in Boston on Saturday on their way back from attending an academic conference in France. Professors Tootkaboni and Louhghalam are both originally from Iran and have legal resident status in the United States. A district court ruling in Boston early Sunday ordered their release and blocks similar detentions at Logan.

In November 2016, the WMU-AAUP faculty voted by an overwhelming margin to approve a Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students, including the international and immigrant students for whom the Executive Order raises immediately pressing fears. The Resolution was a good first step, but now we must do more to stand in solidarity with these students and with our international and immigrant colleagues.

What can we do to help?

  1. Talk with students and colleagues. Make sure they know we have their backs, that we will support them, that we will listen to them, and that we will not betray them.
  2. Contact President Dunn and urge him to take a public stand in support of our international and immigrant students and colleagues. Updated January 31: Read President Dunn’s statement here.
  3. Print out a copy of the Resolution of Solidarity and post it on your office door and/or contact the WMU-AAUP office to request a solidarity card for your office door.
  4. Sign on to the Academics Against Immigration Executive Order letter and share it with colleagues.
  5. Join or donate to the American Civil Liberties Union to help them bring legal challenges against discriminatory activities resulting from the Executive Order and follow them on Twitter to stay up to date on their progress.
  6. Participate in demonstrations against the Executive Order and use social media as another way to make visible your support for and solidarity with students and colleagues.
  7. Check in frequently with your favorite news sources to keep informed about this developing story. Things are happening fast and changing constantly and are likely to continue to do so.
    • For example, a federal judge in New York blocked a key provision of the Executive Order Saturday night. On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement suggesting that it may not comply with the rulings.
    • A White House spokesman now (as of Sunday morning, January 29) “appears to be walking back” the part of the Executive Order that would ban re-entry into the U.S. for permanent legal residents with green cards.

Links to more info about this developing story:

Some Colleges Warning Foreign Students on Travel After Trump’s Immigration Order, by Michael Edison Hayden. ABC News, January 28, 2017.

As protests roiled, professors who were detained at Logan airport waited, by Nestor Ramos. Boston Globe, January 29, 2017.

U.S. colleges rush to help students, scholars affected by Trump’s immigration order, by Valerie Strauss. Washington Post, January 29, 2017.

Sudanese student at Stanford detained, handcuffed at JFK airport, by Queenie Wong. San Jose Mercury News, January 28, 2017.

University of Michigan president states support for international students, by Martin Slagter. MLive, January 29, 2017.

Oklahoma University President David Boren affirms support for students, staff affected by immigration ban in statement, by Greg Brown. Fox 23 News (Tulsa, OK), January 29, 2017.

Colleges brace to shield students from immigration raids, by Alan Gomez. USA Today, January 26, 2017.

Colleges Are Warning Thousands Of Muslim International Students Not To Travel, by Molly Hensley-Clancy. Buzzfeed, January 28, 2017.

Protests erupt at airports around the U.S. following Trump travel ban, Fox News, January 29, 2017.

Protesters Rally as Doctors, Students Blocked From Entering Country After Trump’s Orders, by Eli Rosenberg, Perry Russom and Melissa Buja. NBC Boston, January 28, 2017.

PHOTOS: Thousands Protest At Airports Nationwide Against Trump’s Immigration Order, by James Doubek. NPR, January 29, 2017.

LOCKED OUT ON LABOR DAY: FACULTY AT LIU BROOKLYN FIGHTING FOR A FAIR CONTRACT AND THE FUTURE OF OUR CAMPUS

“They preempted a strike they did not know would happen, and they took actions all summer long to prepare for it. They “deactivated” classes—not cancelled, just bizarrely removed from the schedule—without notifying deans, chairs, or affected faculty. They posted erroneous materials on course management websites. And they placed ads for replacement workers on Monster.com while scrambling to assign Brooklyn administrators as well as those at LIU Post to teach our classes. One young staff member is assigned to teach a Master’s program class in which she is enrolled as a student.”

–Deborah Mutnick, LIU-Brooklyn

ACADEME BLOG

Guest blogger Deborah Mutnick is  a long-time professor at Long Island University’s Brooklyn, NY campus.

As of 12:00 a.m., Saturday, September 3, my colleagues and I were locked out of our University in the midst of contract negotiations between our faculty union and management. The letter I got from the administration told me I have “to cease performing services for the University.” Saturday morning the first thing I did—and I suspect many of my colleagues did as well—was to try my LIU email account. Locked out. The union-busting tactics we all feared have now come to pass.

The idea that faculty and students are the heart and soul of a university is in jeopardy everywhere of late, it seems, in higher education. But for the past three years, Long Island University has strayed so far from this ideal that we barely have a seat at the table anymore. The faculty…

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IUP faculty union president: Why I will strike

Thoughtful and important piece by Dr. Nadene A. L’Amoreaux, president of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches.

The HawkEye

Opinion

Nadene A. L'Amoreaux, Ph.D., president of the IUP chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches. Nadene A. L’Amoreaux, Ph.D., president of the IUP chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches.

By Nadene A. L’Amoreaux

INDIANA – Next week, faculty members and coaches at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and our sister universities across the commonwealth will vote on whether to authorize a strike. We will vote in the face of a threat to college education in the state of Pennsylvania.

We grow increasingly discontented with a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that has failed to implore the General Assembly to adequately fund higher education. That has allowed tuition increases across the State System to place greater financial burden on students and their families, thereby making the possibility of higher education to become further out of reach for our students.

Pennsylvania ranks third highest in the nation for student loan debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, funding…

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WMU-AAUP Remarks to the Board of Trustees

Remarks by WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick
On state divestment from higher education
March 23, 2016


One thing everyone in this room has in common is our shared investment in higher education as a public good. We can all agree, I hope, that students benefit when faculty and staff are equipped with the tools we need to provide the quality instruction, individual attention, and opportunities for learning and growth that our students need and deserve.

State divestment from public education impacts the lives of students as well as the health of our society. As we speak, one of the jewels in the crown of American public higher education – the University of Wisconsin System – is being deliberately and methodically dismantled before our eyes.

And in Illinois, universities have seen no state funding since July 2015 and are bracing for layoffs and, in the case of Chicago State University, even possible closure – at a cost of 900 jobs – while the governor and legislature posture and draw lines in the sand. Eastern Illinois University announced on March 11 that it will lay off 177 employees.

While the total harm that these actions will visit upon Illinois students is incalculable, some of its costs can be quantified. This year, 130,000 students in Illinois are losing need-based financial aid as the state’s Monetary Award Program, which provides grants for low-income students, remains frozen as the budget impasse continues.

These examples, extreme though they are, should not be considered unimaginable in Michigan. Sadly, they are all too imaginable in a state that has itself seen significant cuts in public funding for higher education and for other programs and resources that serve the public good. There was a time not long ago when we all would have found unimaginable the idea that the population of an American city could have been drinking poisoned water for over a year while officials in the governor’s office knew about it but did nothing.

But this is the kind of thing that happens when private profits are valued over the public good. The situation in Flint is a particularly horrific and tragic example of what can happen when state governments ill-serve the people whose well-being they exist – and are paid – to protect.

What’s happening in Wisconsin, the hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to their public university system and the attacks on tenure, is not an accident. The higher education crisis in Illinois is not an unintended consequence. Neither is this year’s billion-dollar budget shortfall in Louisiana, where universities and other state services have been decimated by years of funding cuts along with massive corporate tax cuts.

Some might suggest that these examples are simply the logical conclusion of a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment in recent years against the funding of resources that exist to serve the people. But that is disingenuous. What we are seeing is the result of an orchestrated nationwide campaign to shift public resources into private pockets. Well-fundedthink tanks” and interest groups push for legislation across multiple states, with defunding public education, dismantling social safety nets for our most vulnerable citizens, and weakening unions among their top priorities. Our states are unwitting participants in a political experiment to reduce or even eliminate public resources as we know them.

In Michigan, the governor and the legislature threaten to withhold state funding and punish the institutions whose students are among the least privileged to begin with. Do they not realize that these measures affect students of color and lower-income students disproportionately? Or do they not care?

Governor Snyder recently announced a plan to “increase” university funding in Michigan, to “increase” it back to where it was five years ago when he took office, before he cut higher education funding by 15 percent in the first place in his first budget as governor.

The cuts we’ve endured at Western and other universities in the state have had real costs, including to students who have not been able to continue their studies but also to the ones who stay with us here at WMU but find fewer resources available to them.

The governor cut our budget. And the university has suffered as a result. What a surprise. When you starve the beast for five years, you don’t get to blame the beast for starving. Yet that is exactly the kind of thing we keep hearing from Lansing.

But worse, it’s also what we are hearing from our own senior leadership at WMU. President Dunn has rightly spoken out against the zero-sum measures favored by the governor and the majority party in the legislature. I appreciate that. But then his provost imposes the same kinds of measures on us. Retiring faculty are not replaced. Programs and even entire departments are targeted for closure, although we don’t really know because that whole process seems to be conducted in secret. We are called incessantly to account for ourselves, for our time, for our credit hour production, in new and creatively time-consuming ways. Worst of all, we are being pitted against one another – faculty, staff, departments, programs, and colleges – in a battle for resources in which none of us have been filled in on the rules of engagement.

Enrollment is down, enrollment is down, enrollment is down. That is what we keep hearing, and most of us are in fact seeing the effects of that first hand. When we will talk openly and honestly about why that is and what we can do about it? When will we talk about why enrollment continues to be robust at Central Michigan and Grand Valley but not here? At what point will the senior leadership of this university be called to account for what is happening to our enrollment numbers on this campus, not to mention what has happened to faculty and staff morale?

Last month marked three years since I first stood before you, ladies and gentlemen of the Board. Since that time, I have been moved around the agenda and finally moved off it entirely and into public comments, as of course you know. Although I have been given a variety of vague explanations for why that has happened, I think we all know that the real reason is that some of you would prefer not to hear some of the things I have to say. I have been silent for over a year about the disrespectful and unprofessional treatment I have received in this venue. But I have seen first hand the debilitating effects that a culture of secrecy and silencing can have, not only on members of the university community but on members of the human family. I cannot be complicit in that any longer.

I am asking you today, as I have asked you many times before, to take seriously the things that I and other faculty, staff, and students have to tell you, regardless of how you feel about the messenger. Step out of the carefully controlled environment you spend most of your time in when you are on campus and really listen to the people who work and go to school here. Stand with us to protect this university from external forces who want to see us fail. We are on the same side of this battle.

At least I hope we are.


Click on image to enlarge and visit the Young Invincibles Student Impact Project for more information about state investment in higher education.Image of Young Invicibles 2016 Report Card: Michigan Budget Support for Higher Education

University of Wisconsin System Regents Approve New Policies Weakening Tenure

In the Spring 2016 issue of the WMU-AAUP Advocate newsletter, we reported on developments in Wisconsin regarding actions taken by the state legislature and Gov. Scott Walker to cut public higher education funding in that state by $250 million and significantly weaken tenure, due process, and shared governance rights for faculty at public universities in the state. (“Walker erodes college professor tenure,” Politico, July 12, 2015.)

We also reported that a task force had been appointed to write new policy language for tenure in the University of Wisconsin System and that the draft policy produced by the task force in December 2015 had raised serious questions and concerns for professors in Wisconsin.

(Click here to read the Advocate article.)

In early February, the language went before a committee of the UWS Board of Regents, whose members endorsed it without discussion and sent it on to the full board for review. On March 10, 2016, the board voted to approve statewide rules that will significantly weaken tenure and due process protections for faculty at all UW campuses.

As the Wisconsin State Journal reported on March 11:

Under the new rules, UW officials will have the authority to discontinue academic programs and lay off tenured faculty for educational or financial reasons — such as if administrators decide other “higher priority” programs need funding. Professors could also face discipline, including firing, if they are found to be falling short of expectations under a new policy for post-tenure review.

(“Regents approve new policies for UW tenure over professors’ objections,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 11, 2016.)

According to an article in Inside Higher Ed, “regents cited the need, in an era of tight budgets, for ‘flexibility’ to close programs — and eliminate faculty jobs in the process.” Several amendments to the new policy language were proposed by faculty and by dissenting members of the board that would have strengthened tenure and due-process protections. Two of the amendments were voted down by the board 11-5. Another failed in an 8-8 deadlock. (“‘Fake’ Tenure?” Inside Higher Ed, March 11, 2016.)

As the Wisconsin State Journal reports,

Under the new rules, UW officials will have the authority to discontinue academic programs and lay off tenured faculty for educational or financial reasons — such as if administrators decide other “higher priority” programs need funding.

Professors could also face discipline, including firing, if they are found to be falling short of expectations under a new policy for post-tenure review.

One member of the UWS Board of Regents, José Vásquez, spoke out against the new policies at the meeting last Thursday where the new language was ultimately approved. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Mr. Vásquez “drew applause from the audience at the board meeting by protesting that the financial pressures on the system were not its own doing but the result of a lack of adequate financial support from the state”:

“It was not tenure that caused the fiscal crisis. It was not faculty who were entrenched and did not want to terminate programs,” Mr. Vásquez said. “The fiscal crisis that we have has been imposed on us.”

(“Wisconsin Regents Approve New Layoff and Tenure Policies Over Faculty Objections,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 10, 2016.)

Julie Schmid, executive director of the national AAUP, told the Wisconsin State Journal that the new rules “could set a precedent for weakening tenure protections across the country.” According to Dr. Schmid,

“The Board of Regents today voted to diminish tenure and academic freedom in the UW System, and with it to diminish the reputation of the system, and to undermine the Wisconsin Idea.”

The national AAUP issued a statement on March 10 in response to these developments:

Tenure in Wisconsin

It is now clear that the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has adopted a policy that provides weaker protections of tenure, and thus of academic freedom, than what has long been the norm in Wisconsin and than what is called for under the standards approved by the American Association of University Professors. What is not clear is why the regents have adopted such a policy. The policy appears to be only the latest step in an ongoing attack on the University of Wisconsin as a public good that exists for the benefit of all citizens of the state. It jeopardizes the working conditions of faculty and academic staff as well as the learning conditions of students in the university. Weakening tenure at the University of Wisconsin weakens the University of Wisconsin.

The regents had an opportunity to affirm the University of Wisconsin System’s commitment to academic freedom and to the university’s continued contribution to the common good, as enshrined in the Wisconsin Idea. They failed to do so. The reason for the adoption of the present policy will likely become apparent when it is put into practice. The American Association of University Professors and its chapters in the state will pay close attention to how these policies are going to be deployed.

Why this matters in Michigan:

WMU faculty, along with professors at all public universities in the state, should note that in Michigan, the authority to govern public universities rests with each institution’s Board of Trustees rather than in Lansing. This means that no act of the state legislature, like the bill passed in Wisconsin and signed by the governor last July, would be required to shift this authority to institutional governance boards because they already have it.

But we are fortunate that WMU is a union campus. This means that despite the constitutional autonomy that vests our Board of Trustees with considerable power, our WMU-AAUP contract is a legally binding barrier to instituting similarly draconian policies on our own campus.

But make no mistake: We are going to have to be vigilant.

As we wrote in the spring Advocate, we all need to pay close attention to the developments in Wisconsin. The political realities that have led to this point — where tenure protections, academic freedom, and faculty rights to due process in one of the most highly regarded state university systems in the United States are being systematically dismantled before our eyes — are not contained by state borders.

There are powerful people and organizations in this state and beyond who are watching what is unfolding in Wisconsin right now with gleeful anticipation. There is no question but that they would like to try to impose similar policies on state universities here in Michigan. And we are already seeing resource-shifting on our own campus that is cause for concern.

At WMU, the only thing standing in the way of the kind of abridgment of faculty rights that we are seeing in Wisconsin is our union contract. We are fortunate to have a strong union and powerful contract language. But the state legislature has shown no sign that they plan to back off on trying to pass more anti-union legislation, which is part of what made what is now happening in Wisconsin possible. Additionally, the misplaced priorities of the Republican-controlled legislature in Michigan and their ongoing disinvestment in public higher education indicate that tough times on our own campus are very likely here to stay for the foreseeable future.

That means if we intend to preserve our rights as faculty, we are going to have to fight for them. Complacency is not an option.

Please plan to attend the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting scheduled for Friday, April 8, at 1:30pm, in 105 Bernhard Center. We will discuss the situation in Wisconsin, how we can stand with our colleagues there, and how we can stand up against encroachments on tenure, academic freedom, and due-process rights here on our own campus. All members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are encouraged to attend this important meeting.


Read more about developments in Wisconsin:

“Attack on college tenure threatens our humanities,” Hartford Courant, March 13, 2016.

“Attack on tenure harms academic freedom,” LaCrosse Tribune, Mar 7, 2016.

“‘Fake’ Tenure?” Inside Higher Ed, March 11, 2016.

“Regents approve new policies for UW tenure over professors’ objections,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 11, 2016.

“Wisconsin: Now the real battle begins,” Academe Blog, March 11, 2016.

“Wisconsin regents approve new layoff and tenure policies over faculty objections,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 10, 2016.


 

National AAUP Issues Statement on Developments in Wisconsin
(As reported in the Spring 2016 issue of the WMU-AAUP Advocate newsletter)

At a time when faculty rights to tenure and due process are being challenged by administrators and lawmakers nationwide, as well as misrepresented to the public, the national AAUP’s Statement on Developments in the University of Wisconsin System, issued on November 5, 2015, is an important reminder of some of the foundational principles of our profession.

After the Wisconsin legislature removed tenure and shared governance protections for UWS faculty, the AAUP and AFT-Wisconsin called on the UWS Board of Regents to enact policies consistent with AAUP principles through a process involving faculty and staff governance bodies. The Regents temporarily enshrined prior statutory language regarding tenure and shared governance and created a system-wide task force to craft new policy. In an initial conversation with the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance, the UWS administration pledged that the new policies would follow AAUP standards.

However, early draft recommendations from the task force were fraught with conflicts with AAUP policies and standards. But in December 2015, the task force finalized an improved set of draft policies, although some faculty members who served on the task force questioned draft language related to post-tenure review and language regarding layoffs added by the UW System general counsel. Faculty members worried that “allowing for layoffs to accommodate program changes short of discontinuation raises the risk that faculty will be targeted for engaging in unpopular speech or controversial lines of research.” (“UW tenure task force wraps up on a note of uncertainty,” Capital Times, December 24, 2015.)

Vice President of the UWS Board of Regents John Behling, who chairs the task force, wrote in an op-ed that UWS “must be able to operate more like modern private and nonprofit sector organizations that, in challenging and often unpredictable times, respond to changing market forces, demographics, trends and demands.” On layoffs, Behling wrote: “Our new policy proposal empowers chancellors to discontinue programs as necessary for educational or financial reasons, and, if absolutely necessary, it allows for faculty in those programs to be laid off.” (“Opinion: UW tenure reforms provide flexibility, accountability,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 22, 2015.)

While Behling maintains that “Tenure is a critical bedrock of higher education,” critics point out that the Regents “can’t have it both ways.” In a letter to the editor responding to Behling’s op-ed, Chad Alan Goldberg, Professor of Sociology at UW-Madison, wrote that the Regents “can either uphold a strong tenure policy or it can give administrators more flexibility to fire faculty.” He added that “The purpose of a strong tenure policy is precisely to limit administrators’ flexibility to reallocate resources and staff so that such decisions do not infringe on academic freedom and are based on educational considerations as determined primarily by the people most qualified to do so, namely, the faculty.” Finally, he reminded the Regents and the public that tenure is “not a ‘job for life’; it’s a right to due process.” (“Letter to the Editor: Regents can’t have it both ways,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 29, 2015.)

The draft policy will go to the UWS Board of Regents in February. Behling said that their staff “will refine the drafts” of the policies on tenure and on post-tenure review and that “the language could change further at the hand of regents.” (“UW tenure task force wraps up on a note of uncertainty,” Capital Times, December 24, 2015.)

The AAUP national staff and leadership, along with AAUP faculty and their chapters in Wisconsin, remain vigilant in working to ensure that UWS policies comport with AAUP standards, but current developments are not promising.

In Michigan, the authority to govern public universities already rests with each institution’s Board of Trustees. We need to watch the developments in Wisconsin because the political realities behind them are not bound by state borders. At WMU, the only protection for faculty rights is our union contract. Fortunately, we have a strong union and powerful contract language. But it will take our ongoing vigilance to preserve our rights as faculty.

Follow this link to read the full AAUP statement.

In Case You Missed It: Higher Ed News Roundup

The University of Montana has announced that it will eliminate nearly 200 jobs this year, including 58 full-time faculty positions. According to The Missoulian, the jobs to be eliminated by June 30, 2016, will include “open positions that won’t be filled” as well as layoffs. (“UM will lay off 27 people, reduce 192 full-time positions by end of June,” The Missoulian, January 27, 2016.)

Faculty and students at the four-campus Connecticut State University system rallied last fall to protest contract proposals from the Board of Regents that called for eliminating faculty research support, allowing the transfer of tenured faculty between campuses without faculty consent, and weakening tenure. Negotiations have been stalled since December. (“Professors, students unite to protest Board of Regents contract,” New Britain Herald, October 29, 2015; “Connecticut, College Faculty Members Battle Over Tenure,” Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2015.)

Eastern Michigan University faculty have denounced a “closed search” process for the institution’s next president. With no public presentations or meetings with faculty, staff, or students, finalists will interview exclusively with the Board of Trustees. Similarly, the 2014 presidential search at the University of Michigan was conducted “completely in private,” according to the Detroit Free Press. (“EMU faculty not happy about closed presidential search,” Detroit Free Press, November 7, 2015; “Faculty Senate pulls all representation from Presidential Search Advisory Committee,” Eastern Echo, November 28, 2015.)

University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned in November under pressure from student activists, including more than 30 members of the football team. Faculty cancelled classes and walked out in support of the students, who were protesting a series of racial incidents on campus. (“U. Missouri president, chancellor resign over handling of racial incidents,” Washington Post, November 9, 2015.)

Some 50 faculty and staff at the City University of New York were arrested and handcuffed at a demonstration in November to protest an administration proposal for salary increases totaling six percent over six years, which demonstrators said would not keep up with inflation. CUNY faculty and staff have been working without a contract or salary increase since 2010. (“Dozens arrested at CUNY faculty, staff protest,” CBS New York, November 4, 2015.)

Faculty, staff, and students at the University of Iowa are protesting the hiring of President J. Bruce Harreld, whom the Board of Regents selected over objections of the faculty. Iowa faculty criticized the search process as well as the selection of Mr. Harreld, who has no experience in university administration. Faculty at eight other Big 10 universities have joined the Iowa faculty in calling on the board to “adhere to the principles of shared university governance and to ethical behavior and transparency.” (“Hundreds protest regents, call for Harreld to resign,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 22, 2015; “A controversial search ends with a controversial chief for the U. of Iowa,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 4, 2015.)

Following the ouster last year of University System of North Carolina President Thomas W. Ross, UNC faculty and other observers have raised concerns that Ross may have been removed for political reasons. In October, former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was named his successor, after a search that faculty members charge was conducted without transparency or shared governance. The UNC board chairman has since resigned. (“Questions linger over how UNC chose Spellings,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 23, 2015.)

Calvin College in Grand Rapids announced in October that majors in art history, classical languages, theater, Greek, and Latin will be eliminated, along with six faculty positions, following that institution’s recent academic program review. (“Calvin College cuts programs, eliminates 6 faculty spots,” Fox 17 West Michigan, October 16, 2015.)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a budget bill last July that cuts higher education funding by $250 million and significantly weakens tenure, due process, and shared governance rights for faculty at public universities in the state. (“Walker erodes college professor tenure,” Politico, July 12, 2015. For recent developments, see “Critics say UW tenure policy up for adoption won’t protect academic freedom,” Capital Times, January 30, 2016, and “Wisconsin Regents Committee Approves Tenure Changes Without Discussion,” by Hank Reichman, Academe Blog, February 6, 2016.)