An Open Letter to the Arts and Sciences Faculty

Over the past year, the AAUP Executive Committee has carried on a dialogue with Dean Richard Edwards about the proposed A&S Professional Review for Tenured Faculty. From the beginning, we found the professional development ideas laudatory, but had strong concern that the plan would involve faculty in unneeded reviews, and that it did not sufficiently protect the faculty's rights of due process and academic freedom. Dean Edwards, responding positively to suggestions from AAUP and individual faculty members, made many improvements embodied in successive drafts. During this time AAUP developed an alternate proposal, which we shared with the Dean early in 1994, and which was circulated to you early in March. Since the March 3 faculty meeting, in which it was announced that the A&S faculty would be asked to vote on the plan, we have had several meetings with the Dean who has agreed to incorporate most aspects of our proposal into either the policies related to the plan dated February 10 or in procedures relative to the operation of the A&S college generally. Consequently, despite some lingering concerns, we have voted to favor implementation of the February 10 version of the Professional Review for Tenured Faculty on a trial basis and to inform the A&S faculty of our reasons for doing so.

Our favorable stance was decided by consideration of the following points:

The Executive Committee has throughout the year deplored the need for establishing new procedures for accountability -- a need brought about both by the actions (or "in-actions") of a very few faculty, and by public misperception and misunderstanding of the role academic freedom plays in the existence of tenure. The Committee is painfully aware of the post-tenure review policies forced on faculty in other institutions and states. If we do not ourselves take action to prevent abuse, we may find such measures imposed upon us. Although the proposal before you is not perfect, the evolution of it and the assurances outlined above have persuaded us that the plan, given its experimental nature over a limited period of time, merits a trial. Of course, we plan to watch the implementation very carefully and we will continue to be vigilant about protecting faculty rights.

We invite you to inspect the documents, which have been exchanged between AAUP officers and Dean Edwards, and we encourage your questions as well -- either about the proposed policy or about your particular situation with respect to any matter relating to academic freedom, tenure, or faculty welfare.

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