• September 1, 2015

AAUP Votes to Sanction Antioch U. and Censure 2 Other Institutions

At the American Association of University Professors’ annual meeting here on Saturday, members of the group unanimously voted to sanction Antioch University for alleged violations of shared governance, and to place Clark Atlanta University and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston on its censure list for academic-freedom violations.

The AAUP resolution sanctioning the multicampus Antioch University system for violations of shared governance makes clear that the group finds no fault with Antioch College, the Yellow Springs liberal-arts campus that the leaders of Antioch University had closed in 2008 and that alumni and former faculty members are working to reopen as a stand-alone institution.

The resolution sanctioning Antioch University accuses it of shutting faculty members out of budget and curriculum decisions, and then declaring financial exigency and closing Antioch College without actually being in an immediate, systemwide financial crisis. The resolution acknowledges that the university's chancellor, Tullisse A. (Toni) Murdock, has offered to meet with AAUP staff to come up with ways to ensure faculty participation in the university's governance. But, it said, she has offered few details, and the institution has not yet adopted policies protecting shared governance or extending employment security to all of its instructors.

Before voting on the resolution, the association's members heard a plea for them to approve the sanction delivered by Chris Hill, a former associate professor of media arts at Antioch College. "By sanctioning Antioch University, you will continue to direct attention to the university's unprofessional and uncollegial faculty governance policies," which are detrimental to fair working conditions and high standards, she said.

Chancellor Murdock on Saturday criticized the process by which the AAUP arrived at its decision, saying "this was a stacked deck before we even arrived at this point." Noting that Cary Nelson, the association's president, is an alumnus of Antioch College and has repeatedly spoken out against its closing, Ms. Murdock said Mr. Nelson's formal recusal of himself from the Antioch investigation did little to assure her of its fairness, and she believes that the group turned a deaf ear to the responses she offered.

"In reality, we see very little point in trying to continue with any sort of conversation with them about this," Ms. Murdock said. "We are comfortable right now with the future direction of the university."

Other Censure Resolutions

The association's resolution censuring the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston revolves around the institution's decision to suspend operations and lay off faculty members after Hurricane Ike in September 2008. The resolution says an AAUP investigation found that the campus had terminated the appointments of more than 120 faculty members—about a third of them tenured—after the university system's Board of Regents declared the campus to be financially exigent without any input from faculty. Last year, the resolution says, the institution's administration began recruiting new faculty members for the reopened medical branch without demonstrating that it could not rescind many of the terminations after the storm.

A spokesman for the medical branch, Raul Reyes, declined to comment Saturday.

The AAUP voted to censure Clark Atlanta University after hearing Hugh D. Hudson Jr., the executive secretary of the AAUP's Georgia conference, urge it to take such action. The resolution says the university used a declaration of a "largely nonexistent" enrollment crisis as a pretext for refusing to afford academic due process to 55 full-time faculty members whose appointments it terminated last year.

In response, the administration of Clark Atlanta issued a statement on Saturday noting that the AAUP is not an accrediting agency and saying it stands by the actions it took in 2009, which were "in the best interests of the academy."


1. 11358172 - June 14, 2010 at 09:24 am

Toni Murdock used to complain about directors who could not 'control' their faculty, so I am saddened and not surprised that she discounts AAUP.

2. dennisroberts - June 19, 2010 at 05:38 pm

This is wrong. The Antioch University system has a responsibility to a large number of students at multiple campuses. The site in Ohio, while historic, had a very low number of students. It was nearly dead and was draining resources from programs and campuses that play important roles in their communities. The university could not continue to support the campus at Yellow Springs. It was our tuition money, my tuition money, which was being used to support a small campus of privileged students.

3. dennisroberts - June 19, 2010 at 05:45 pm

This move by the AAUP was wrong. It hurts the value of the degrees being earned by students at the campuses of the Antioch University System as an employment dispute tactic. It pretends that other steps could have been taken which, whether true or not, are probably not in the purview of the AAUP to determine. It shows that the real interest of the AAUP is not in the education received by the large and varied student body at our many campuses but in protecting the employment of the members of its union. Thankfully it is not an accrediting agency and if asked about this by a licensing board I can point to the bias of the leadership of the organization that passed it. Ultimately this is more of a judgment on the petty and vindictive nature of the leadership of that union and not a comment on the education available to us as students at Antioch campuses.

4. 11358172 - June 30, 2010 at 03:23 pm

this is the way Dr. Murdock chose to portray things, Dennis. In reality life for faculty at all of the campuses is decided by the whim of the administrators.

5. dennisroberts - June 30, 2010 at 05:39 pm

Wow, anonymous commenter. You brush off my comment in a way that implies that I have fallen for some company line and don't really understand what is going on. Nice try, brave anonymous commenter. But, no.

Three thoughts:

1. the Yellow Springs campus was an incredible drain on resources and it pulled money from my tuition payments for a campus of only historical value. I think that it is obvious to say that it was unfair to take the money from the many of us (who have worked hard to gain access to higher education) and transfer it to support a campus devoted to the privileged children of a privileged set of baby boomers. Taking our tuition to support that campus was a redistribution - upwards. The argument that working adults should have their tuition money used to keep that campus on life support is wrong. The few who attended the dying campus at Yellow Springs come from a much more entitled demographic than the majority of working adults at the other campuses. There is a serious class component to this. The vocal opponents of closing the college were on the side of support for and continuation of traditional privileges for the few at the expense of the many. Not quite an Antioch value, if you ask me.

2. The administration has consistently treated the students at our campus respectfully and as adults. On the other hand, the loud and obnoxious campaigners for the college in Yellow Springs devalued the mission and work of the other campuses (on their discussion boards and public statements), the president of the AAUP insulted our programs, our degrees and our students (presumably because the majority of the students at the other campuses are not privileged baby boomers and not the children of privileged baby boomers) and the Yellow Springs ex-faculty used the AAUP "investigation" to try and take value from our education. After all of that, whose side do you think that many of us would be on? The college in Yellow Springs? No.

3. Besides working on my doctorate at an Antioch campus, I teach as an adjunct at another (non-Antioch) school. Baed on this experience elsewhere and looking at the relationship of the admin to the faculty at Antioch I have been impressed at what I've seen. The Antioch University administration treats faculty as adults. There is a large amount of academic freedom and an encouragement of social justice and activism. I am delighted that Antioch does not support outdated guild protections or carve out special exceptions for a privileged few faculty members. But Antioch does give faculty plenty of room to speak and explore and teach without interference. The administration stepped in to address the melt down at the college in Yellow Springs. It should have been closed many years earlier, in my opinion. But in the dealings with the students and faculty at the various campuses they seem to do pretty good.

And all of the above is not how Dr Murdock choses to portray anything. It is how it appears to me. I sign my name to my own opinions. I've given my name. You can see it in my poster id: Dennis Roberts. I've noticed that you don't do the same. If you feel like replying then prove that you have the courage of your convictions and tell us who you are.

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