Category Archives: Shared Governance

National Labor Relations Board Clarifies Faculty’s Labor Status in Private Colleges

The end of 2014 was an interesting and important moment for faculty at private colleges.  Since the Yeshiva supreme court ruling in 1980, faculty at private colleges have been considered “management.”  New rules by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) bring significantly more clarity to what this means, and when it may apply.  Importantly, the new NLRB communication begins to clarify the difference between institutions that have effective shared governance (i.e., faculty are “managers”) and institutions that do not.  AAUP states the following:

The board explained that under the new standard, “where a party asserts that university faculty are managerial employees, we will examine the faculty’s participation in the following areas of decision making: academic programs, enrollment management, finances, academic policy, and personnel policies and decisions.” The board will give greater weight to the first three areas, as these are “areas of policy making that affect the university as whole.” The board “will then determine, in the context of the university’s decision making structure and the nature of the faculty’s employment relationship with the university, whether the faculty actually control or make effective recommendation over those areas. If they do, we will find that they are managerial employees and, therefore, excluded from the Act’s protections.”

The board emphasized that to be found managers, faculty must in fact have actual control or make effective recommendations over policy areas. This requires that “the party asserting managerial status must prove actual—rather than mere paper—authority. . . . A faculty handbook may state that the faculty has authority over or responsibility for a particular decision-making area, but it must be demonstrated that the faculty exercises such authority in fact.” Proof requires “specific evidence or testimony regarding the nature and number of faculty decisions or recommendations in a particular decision making area, and the subsequent review of those decisions or recommendations, if any, by the university administration prior to implementation, rather than mere conclusory assertions that decisions or recommendations are generally followed.” Further, the board used strong language in defining “effective” as meaning that “recommendations must almost always be followed by the administration” or “routinely become operative without independent review by the administration.” (Source: AAUP)

For more details, click here to read AAUP’s press release on this matter.

Sign the AAUP Centennial Declaration

Read it. Sign it. Share your experience. We’ll use your signature and your comments to show trustees, administrations, and lawmakers nationwide that we demand better colleges and universities.


The Declaration:

Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.

-1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure

  1. The university is a public good, not a private profit-making institution, and corporations or business interests should not dictate teaching or research agendas.
  2. The life of a university should reflect all dimensions of human endeavor and be built on the full and open participation of diverse faculty and students.
  3. The main aims of teaching are the dissemination of knowledge and the fostering of creativity; learning is not just about developing “job skills.”
  4. The main aim of research is to create new knowledge, and academic freedom is essential for the free search for truth and its free expression. Research is not just about enhancing the profit margins of corporations.
  5. After teaching and research, the third mission of universities is about engaging communities and addressing social disadvantage, and not just about “enterprise engagement” or “economic development.”
  6. All who work at universities are entitled to a dignified and collegial workplace free of surveillance and authoritarian dictates and to resist the degradation of their working conditions.
  7. Students are the next generation of enlightened and humane citizens, not just revenue streams or the bearers of collateral for unsustainable debt loads.
  8. Information and communications technologies are welcome tools for teaching and research but should not be used to impoverish the quality of education or reduce faculty-student contact time.
  9. University management should resist public education cutbacks and reverse the multiplying of senior management posts, many of which are unnecessary.
  10. Faculty shared governance is the cornerstone of any university that values teaching and research. The authority of faculty in hiring decisions, promotions, and curricular matters should not be compromised by donors, trustees, or administrators. Similarly, the faculty voice in budgeting, institutional planning, and other internal operations should not be marginalized.

Chronicle: Colleges Could Narrow the Income Gap

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a new op-ed out on lowering income inequality while providing a framework for pay equity on campuses:

At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a public honors college, a group of faculty and staff members, students, and alumni have put together a proposal that would permanently cap the growing ratio between the top and bottom earners on the campus. The St. Mary’s Wages plan would establish a benchmark minimum salary for the lowest-paid full-time employees that would rise with inflation. Tenure-track faculty members would make at least twice that benchmark. Different groups of workers (for example, associate professors, professional-staff members) would be guaranteed wages above specified fixed multiples of the lowest salary.

On the other end of the salary scale, no professor would be allowed to make more than four times the benchmark. Vice presidents would be capped at a factor of seven times, and the president’s total compensation package would never exceed 10 times the lowest worker’s pay.

Click on the link above to read the whole article.

Howard Bunsis in the News

For those of you following the impact of Howard Bunsis’ visit to Whittier’s Campus last May, here is a link to a Chronicle article about the varied responses to his work on other campuses:


Chronicle of Higher Education: “In a Fight for More Funds, Professors Quantify…” (behind firewall)

WCAAUP Publishes “Bill of Right to Know”

WCAAUP is happy to announce the “Bill of Right to Know.”  This document reflects the long-term goals of AAUP members at Whittier College and their desire to build a solid foundation of functional shared governance so that Whittier can strategically and effectively harness its full potential as an institution of higher learning.

2014 Member Survey

2014 Member Survey of Service and Contribution

member survey 2014

In April 2014, the Whittier College Chapter of the American Association of University Professors  (WCAAUP) conducted its first survey about its members and their engagement on campus and in the Whittier community.  The results show that WCAAUP’s membership is active, engaged, and has a positive outlook about Whittier College’s future.

WCAAUP members come from all levels of the professoriate.  Tenured, tenure-track and adjunct professors make up its ranks.  33% of the respondents have been at Whittier 0-7 years, 46% 8-15 years, and 21% more than 15.  About 1/3 of Whittier College faculty are members of AAUP.

WCAAUP Take an Active Role in Leadership
Service at Whittier is naturally a part of our job, but taking on the extra responsibility of chairing committees and bringing about change is largely voluntary.  The survey demonstrates the degree to which WCAAUP members contribute their time and energy, showing that our members far exceed the baseline expectations for service.  In fact, WCAAUP members are among the most generous and most active members of the campus community.  71% of WCAAUP members have chaired a committee, 67% have chaired a department, and 63% have brought policy changes to the faculty for approval.  In short, WCAAUP members not only believe in the college, they believe in making a difference.

WCAAUP Members Contribute
In addition to contributing their time and effort in exceptional ways, WCAAUP members have cumulatively donated more than 30 thousand dollars to Whittier College, and this number does not include estate planning or other planned giving in the future.   For those members that give regularly, the average yearly gift is 640 dollars.  In all, 50% of our members have given money, and 33% contribute annually.  It should also be noted that 65% of WCAAUP members report being active in the larger Whittier community.

Grants and Gifts
On top of personal donations, WCAAUP members have raised (or played significant roles in raising) money for external grants and gifts to the college.  25% of WCAAUP members report getting external funds over the last 7 years, raising a total of 1.97 million dollars in gifts and grants.  These monies go to funding salaries and the overall bottom line of the college.

WCAAUP Members Have a Positive Outlook
When asked how they feel about the future potential of the college, WCAAUP membership is overwhelmingly positive.  Though members had a somewhat critical stance about present circumstances, only 16% report a negative outlook going into the future. In fact, an overwhelming 84% of WCAAUP members believed that Whittier College is going to be as good or better in the future.  This positive outlook is probably highly correlated with WCAAUP members proven record in contributing time, effort and money to the college, and a belief in the potential to bring change.

Our first annual survey reaffirms both the description and mission of WCAAUP as an organization “dedicated to advancing the academic mission of Whittier College by supporting a sustainable model of education and shared governance.”

About the Whittier Chapter of AAUP
Re-established in September 2013, WCAAUP is a subsidiary chapter of the AAUP (the American Association of University Professors),  a professional organization established in 1915 for the purpose of protecting academic freedom, pursuing effective shared governance of colleges and universities, and advocating that colleges and universities provide adequate compensation to faculty to make the profession attractive.  These ideas and goals are spelled out in the “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” which can be found in the Whittier College Faculty Handbook, Appendix 1.  Whittier College had an active AAUP chapter in the 1970s, and AAUP guidelines were instrumental in the establishment of key aspects of our faculty governance system.

Membership in the Whittier College chapter of AAUP is open Whittier College Academic Staff, Adjuncts, Librarians, Visiting Professors and Faculty.

Statement on Academic Freedom, Tenure, and the Whittier College Faculty Personnel Process

Whittier College Chapter of the AAUP

January 29, 2014

The American Association of University Professors was established for the purpose of expanding, protecting, and preserving the academic freedom of college and university faculty in their roles as teachers, scholars, and citizens.  Several axioms underlay that purpose.  The first is that ideas are powerful, and can be considered dangerous by established powers.  The second is that colleges and universities exist to serve the common good.  The third is that college and university faculty serve the common good by exploring, understanding, and questioning ideas about the way the natural and human worlds work, including the policies, practices, and priorities of the college or university at which they are employed.

To serve these ends, the AAUP has articulated policies and procedures that colleges and faculty should adopt to protect and support faculty and academic freedom, most importantly those articulated in the “1940 Statement on Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure with 1970 Interpretative Comments.”[1] Key among these policies is the institution of academic tenure, or “continuous appointment,” an institution through which a faculty member has earned a right to a faculty position.  Whittier College aspires to these AAUP principles.

In the early 1970s, the Whittier College Chapter of AAUP worked to translate those principles into a faculty governance system that includes a rigorous faculty personnel process that includes tenure.[2]  In the Whittier College process, the Board of Trustees is the body authorized to grant tenure.  That Board action is preceded by a lengthy, usually six-year process during which non-tenured, tenure-track faculty hold probationary status and are subject to peer review based on criteria established by the faculty of Whittier College. Typically, non-tenured faculty hold annual contracts.  Unlike tenured faculty, non-tenured faculty during their probationary years do not have a right to their position beyond the contract period.  For a non-tenured faculty member, non-renewal of an appointment is not the same as dismissal for cause, commonly known as “firing.”  The rights of non-tenured faculty are spelled out in the AAUP document “Statement on Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Nonrenewal of Faculty Appointments.”[3]  Where faculty during their probationary years may have their appointment renewed or not renewed, following processes spelled out in the AAUP “Statement on Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Nonrenewal of Faculty Appointments,” tenured faculty may be terminated only for cause;[4] that is a significant distinction between tenured and non-tenured faculty, and gives weight and meaning to “tenure.”

In the Whittier College faculty personnel system, all faculty members, in consultation with their department chairs, have the responsibility for assembling evidence of accomplishment in the four areas designated as criteria for assessing a faculty member’s effectiveness: teaching, scholarship, advising, and service (see section III.B.5 of the Whittier College Faculty Handbook).  The peer review is undertaken first by the Faculty Personnel Committee, composed of five elected faculty members, the chair of the Faculty Executive Council (FEC), and the dean of faculty.  Non-tenured faculty typically submit to full FPC review in their 2nd, 4th, and 6th years.  By College policy, faculty personnel deliberations and discussions are confidential.

In a faculty member’s 6th year, FPC formulates a recommendation about tenure, based on its peer assessment of the tenure candidate’s dossier and its understanding of College standards for tenure.   That recommendation is then forwarded to the president of the college, who reviews and approves or disapproves of FPC recommendations.  If the FPC recommendation is favorable and the president agrees, the president brings that recommendation and backing materials to the Board of Trustees for action.  If the president disagrees with the FPC recommendation, the committee and the president meet to see if their disagreement can be resolved.  If not, the president’s decision stands and is brought to the Board of Trustees.  FPC may send a letter of dissent to the Board of Trustees.  The decision whether or not to tenure a faculty member rests with the Board of Trustees.

This lengthy, thorough, peer-reviewed process is designed both to protect the academic freedom of faculty members, and to enable the College to select the best possible candidates for tenure consideration.  Moreover, the faculty personnel process epitomizes the concept of “shared governance,” in which faculty, administration, and trustees have essential roles to play.

The Whittier College Chapter of the AAUP fully supports our faculty governance structure and system in general, and the faculty personnel process in particular.  All Whittier College faculty have a stake in insisting and ensuring that process is followed, and that a faculty member’s academic freedom is protected.  Should any faculty member have concerns about the faculty personnel process in general or in any particular case, our process does allow for those concerns to be directed to FEC, the dean of faculty, or the president of the college (see section III.B.10 of the Faculty Handbook).  If a faculty member has concerns that academic freedom has been infringed or violated, the Faculty Handbook also identifies the Faculty Executive Council as the “guardian of academic freedom” and as the grievance committee for the faculty (section I.D of the Faculty Handbook).   This process conforms to AAUP recommendations about the protection of academic freedom, and the investigation of allegations of its transgression.  In addition, the national AAUP may seek to investigate particular violations of academic freedom.

Should the Whittier College faculty personnel process not be followed in any particular case, that would be a matter of deep concern not just to the Whittier College Chapter of AAUP, but also to the entire faculty.  The same is true should there be any allegation or evidence of the violation of any faculty member’s academic freedom.  Should FEC receive either kind of case, we recommend that FEC consult the AAUP document “Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure”.[5]

That being said, the Whittier College Chapter of AAUP expresses full confidence in the ability of the faculty governance system to handle such issues should they arise.

[Statement on Academic Freedom, Tenure, and the Whittier College Faculty Personnel Process  (original document)]

[2] These criteria and processes are open to public access, and are spelled out in Sections III.B.1-10 and Appendixes 1, 3, 10,and 11 of the Whittier College Faculty Handbook  The Whittier College faculty personnel process as well has been amended to now include significant post-tenure, and post-promotion-to-full-professor review.

[4] The AAUP recognizes other reasons an institution may consider the termination of faculty with tenure, in particular a bona fide financial exigency or the discontinuation of a program or department.  In all cases, the AAUP has recommended processes that should be followed to protect faculty interests.