American Association of University Professors
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE COLLEGE OF SAINT ROSE COMMUNITY (OCT. 30, 2015)
I am writing as President of the New York State Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) out of concern over recent developments at the College regarding threats to the Faculty’s rightful participation in the governance of the institution and what appears to be an attack on due process and academic freedom. In its 100 years of existence the AAUP has set the standard for college and university management and views with deep concern any attempts to undermine well-established norms for faculty rights and the protection thereof.
It has come to our attention that the College of Saint Rose is currently undertaking a “strategic academic program prioritization” process that could have a significant negative impact on some programs and faculty. Furthermore, if the means of crafting and implementing the resulting proposals are not carried out with scrupulous adherence to the highest standards of faculty consultation with the Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Committees, the Representative Committee of the Faculty, and the Faculty as a Whole the legitimacy of the outcome will be highly questionable. Such consultation is especially vital when it includes proposals that involve potential retrenchment or even declarations of financial exigency. Transparency and participation are essential in order to avoid the risk of years of costly and demoralizing legal action and even the possibility of censure by the AAUP.
I understand that the Administration and Board contemplate enacting some new draconian decisions as early as mid- to late- December despite not having consulted sufficiently with all interested parties and stakeholders. This would be an unfortunate and unnecessary blow to due process and is likely to leave deep scars which will be hard to heal.
The NYS AAUP conference strongly urges the institutional leadership and Board to cease its efforts to terminate faculty and to seek all other possible alternatives to any fiscal concerns or problems first. Program prioritization and elimination should be led by faculty in standing committees charged with overseeing the curriculum. It should be thoughtful, deliberative, and done with full and genuine faculty consultation. Such a process cannot be accomplished in the very short time frame offered to the faculty. The AAUP provides a number of guidelines and services that can assist in such an endeavor (see AAUP.org for specific policies).
I see by the Mission Statement of the school that Saint Rose describes itself as a “learning community that fosters integrity, interdependence, and mutual respect.” I can think of no better way for the institution to live up to its highest aspirations than for it to assure the core of the college, its faculty, that integrity, interdependence and mutual respect are alive and well as it faces its latest challenges.
President – NYSC/AAUP