Censure Removals Bring Closure

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2011 
Contact: Jordan Kurland, AAUP associate general secretary 

Washington, D.C. — Delegates to the Ninety-seventh Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) voted on June 11 to remove the University of New Orleans and Loyola University New Orleans, the city’s two universities that remained on the AAUP’s list of censured administrations from its censure list.  The AAUP has called the speed, comprehensiveness, and outcome of this total engagement which involved published reports on investigations of five universities to be “unprecedented in the Association’s history. It stands as testimony to the importance of the Association’s role - including the constructive role of censure - in securing institutional recognition of academic freedom, tenure, and sound principles of shared governance.”

In March 2006, the chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure authorized the establishment of a special committee to deal with the situation when it became evident that several of the city’s universities, upon reopening after the hurricane, were considering a variety of actions that had adverse ramifications for academic freedom and tenure. The special committee, consisting initially of nine members and assisted by a grant from the AAUP’s Academic Freedom Fund, first convened in Washington in May 2006 to decide on assignments and a schedule for its work. In July the AAUP’s general secretary authorized investigations, with special committee members as investigators, at the five universities. That August witnessed site visits in New Orleans by committee members. They were there, a few at a time, for two weeks interviewing faculty members, and the full special committee was there at the end of the month for a meeting with administrative officers and attorneys from the three public universities under investigation and for planning its report, now that a massive amount of accumulated documentation had been supplemented by the results of nearly a hundred interviews that occurred.

The special committee’s 67-page report  was published in the May-June 2007 issue of Academe, in time for Committee A to bring the five cases before the AAUP’s 2007 annual meeting. In the case of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, progress toward resolving deficiencies had been sufficient for Committee A not to make a recommendation to that annual meeting but to state that it would continue to monitor developments and report back to the annual meeting in 2008. At Committee A’s recommendation, the 2007 annual meeting did impose censure in the four other cases. By 2008, all remaining AAUP concerns regarding furloughed LSU Health Sciences professors had been resolved and adequate revised policies on financial exigency had been adopted, and censure thus was not recommended. Also by 2008, outstanding cases of furloughed professors at Southern University at New Orleans had been resolved by offers of reinstatement and adequate financial exigency policies had been restored, enabling the 2008 annual meeting to remove the censure that had been imposed the year before. Next, in 2009, the adoption at Tulane University of two previously lacking procedural safeguards in its policy on financial exigency and the administration’s acceptance of AAUP recommendations in two pending cases led to the removal of that institution from the AAUP’s censure list.

The 2011 University of New Orleans and Loyola University New Orleans censure removals thus bring the cases  investigated by the special committee to closure, four years  after the committee submitted its report and within a half dozen years since Hurricane Katrina struck.

Also, read

• The full Report of an AAUP Special Committee: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans  Universities .
 Committee A’s recommendation to the annual meeting for the University of New Orleans. (.pdf) 
• Committee A’s recommendation to the annual meeting for Loyola University New Orleans.

For more information, please contact Jordan Kurland, AAUP associate general secretary .

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, shared governance and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has over 47,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Media Contact: 
Jordan Kurland
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 14, 2011