Sunday, January 31, 2010

Excerpts from Our Recent Letter to Our Administrators

I add to David's fine essay the thought that members of the university administration who act unilaterally and without regard to due process may be a fourth major threat to academic freedom. In that regard, let me include the following in this discussion.

After stating the particulars of a case in which a faculty member on tenure track was fired without the due process required by policy, we ended our recent letter to UVU administrators with the following more general statement:

Issues like this make a difference in our ability to act responsibly as faculty and administrators of the university. We hope to continue to work with you on matters of academic freedom and due process, and trust that this case can be dealt with in a speedy and fair manner.

Finally, this case follows a disturbing pattern we have noted previously. Professor Hyunme Lee, for instance, also from the Art Department and also under the deanship of Kathie Debenham, was not given due process in her tenure deliberations, a fact that was recognized by your administration after we made the case and which was duly remedied (although by that time Hyunme had decided she no longer was willing to work for the university or in that department). Further, when Professor Lyn Bennett was accused of bias, in successive years, by a candidate for a job in the History Department, she was twice removed from the search committee by Pat Forbes, with no chance to face the accuser or defend her actions. Dean Yells wrote a letter after the fact to Professor Bennett defending her right to be on the committee, but your administration has still not issued an apology or admission of mishandling the case. Your response was that a policy should be written on faculty grievance procedures. Although the Senate is currently considering such a policy, the actions taken against Professor Bennett were still violations of her academic freedom and haven’t been addressed.

In light of these three cases in the past two years, only one of which was resolved, we recommend more careful attention to faculty rights under policy.

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