CEDAR FALLS | A national group representing university faculty has closed its investigation into violations of academic freedom and tenure by the University of Northern Iowa, relieving the institution from threat of censure.
The American Association of University Professors announced Monday it was closing the file on its investigation into the 2012 program cuts and faculty layoffs. The investigating committee reportedly received enough positive feedback from key faculty groups and the new administration to close the case.
Joe Gorton, United Faculty president and president of the AAUP chapter, wrote that by working cooperatively, the administration and the faculty had “made significant progress in restoring respect for academic freedom, tenure and faculty governance" at UNI.
Last June, Gorton asked AAUP to defer its decision on censuring UNI for one year, allowing newly inducted President Bill Ruud to take over. Key faculty groups and the administration sent letters to AAUP in May noting Ruud's efforts to improve communication resulted in a "greatly improved relationship" between faculty and the administration.
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Jerry Smith, chairman of the faculty senate, reported faculty had more control of the curriculum and more involvement in budgetary decisions. He found the new administration to be " transparent, open-door and supportive of innovation."
The AAUP had been investigating the Ben Allen administration after it cut nearly 20 percent of the university's academic programs and threatened to terminate more than 50 faculty appointments. Though terminations didn't occur, some faculty accepted retirement offers with the belief refusing to do so would result in immediate termination with no severance pay, the AAUP reported. Ben Allen was president of UNI until retiring a year ago.
An investigating committee had concluded UNI administration had violated standards of academic freedom and tenure.