Yesterday, Western Illinois University administrators received a letter from The Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the Illinois Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Committee A has concluded that WIU has clearly violated the standards that are articulated in the AAUP Redbook (Policy Documents and Reports). The AAUP’s Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic freedom and Tenure is a national model for academic due process across the academy.
If Committee A finds a violation, it means that the institution has failed to protect academic freedom and tenure.
Committee A’s Chair, Peter N. Kirstein, says that “Tenure is a sacred commitment on the part of and institution and cannot be arbitrarily revoked through layoffs without a determined, good faith effort at relocation.” He’s referring to the fact that I am easy to relocate within WIU. I don’t need retraining: I have two advanced graduate degrees in Spanish and more than ten years of teaching Spanish. Dr. Kirstein is also referring to the fact that two of my colleagues teaching Women’s Studies resigned after I’d been given notice that I would be laid off. He’s referring to the fact that I have not been reinstated.
If tenure can be arbitrarily revoked from one professor, as it has been in my case, then not one professor at WIU can count on the institution to uphold tenure. If we must self-censor or risk losing our jobs, that’s not academic freedom. Tenure was not created to reward those who are complicit–rather, it was created to protect those who dissent.
Two verdicts are in. And the verdicts come from recognized authorities in Education and Academics. This administration is guilty.