AAUP units criticize faculty cuts


Brigid Edmunds, News Editor

Three units of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have written separate letters to Marywood’s president criticizing the university’s cutting of 10 first-year faculty members.

The Marywood AAUP chapter, the PA-AAUP and the Northeastern Pennsylvania AAUP Alliance all opposed the job cuts and the manner in which they were carried out.

In the letter from the Marywood chapter, Dr. Brooke Cannon, president of the Marywood chapter of the AAUP, references the AAUP’s “Recommended Institution Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” which state that decisions about terminating contracts of faculty members should involve input from faculty bodies.

Cannon explained that the role of the AAUP on campus is to “inform the university of [AAUP] policies and advise” when those policies aren’t being followed.

“There was a procedural problem and a human problem,” Cannon said. According to Cannon, the way in which the faculty members were cut demonstrated “[a] lack of respect for the individuals.”

According to the university policies and procedures, no faculty involvement is required. Instead, the policy says that “non-reappointment of a faculty member is the right of the president of the university, so long as there is no violation of tenure policies stated in the Faculty Handbook.”

However, according to the Marywood University policy regarding the retrenchment of faculty, all “feasible” alternatives to termination of faculty are to be pursued in a state of financial exigency.

The NEPA AAUP Alliance is made up of seven higher education institutions in the area: Marywood, Misericordia University, King’s College, Wilkes University, Keystone College, Lackawanna College and the University of Scranton.

In its letter to Sr. Anne, the alliance criticizes the way in which the university handled the non-renewals, saying, “we find your actions and the manner in which they were carried out entirely inconsistent with Catholic social teachings..” and that there is “no clear financial justification” for the non-renewals since the university has not declared financial exigency.

The President of the Pennsylvania AAUP, Dr. John Hinshaw, also wrote to Sr. Anne to express concerns over the cuts.

“We urge you and, the Board of Trustees, and the Marywood University Corporation, to reconsider this rash action and to pursue a policy that promotes healing and learning,” Hinshaw wrote.

Hinshaw said he wrote the letter because, as president of the PA-AAUP, he wants to help Marywood uphold the policies of both the AAUP and the university.

While Hinshaw has not heard back from Sr. Anne, he said he would be “happy to engage in dialogue.”

Hinshaw also said that the university is not upholding the standards of Catholic Social Teaching, specifically regarding the rights of workers.

According to Hinshaw, it is possible for the national AAUP to censure the university, which could warn other people in higher education looking for jobs to look at other institutions for possible employment.

“[It’s] sort of shaming them in the world of higher [education],” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw also reassured the affected faculty that they are not alone.

With the policies regarding termination of faculty in mind, Hinshaw had a word of advice for the university administration: “Be true to the process you put to paper.”

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