CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen has written a response to a national professors group to dispute allegations that the university’s academic cuts violate the rights of faculty and good governance procedures.
In a 3 1/2-page letter, UNI President Ben Allen spells out the process used to implement cuts at the University of Northern Iowa, as well as the reasoning behind the need for such cuts.
Last week the American Association of University Professors shared it will investigate reports the university violated governance, academic freedom and tenure procedures when proposing academic cuts. Such an investigation could lead to censure, producing a black mark on the university reputation, particularly in regards to professors around the country.
The AAUP has indicated it will move quickly on an investigation in hopes of heading off the actions.
“In summary, UNI fully intends to honor its obligations to faculty, as specified in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the faculty union. The university is also highly committed to principles of academic freedom and shared governance, and it believers that the process leading up to those closure decisions honored these principles,” Allen said in the closing paragraph of the letter.
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In finishing his comments, Allen offered that the AAUP after reviewing the contents of the letter would find further investigation unnecessary.
The letter shares UNI’s struggles with ongoing reductions in state appropriations and its difficulties in increasing other revenue sources to make up the difference.
Allen talks of how UNI’s situation differs from the situation at the University of Louisiana, which the AAUP cited as an example of similar actions that could lead to censure. For example, Allen said the master agreement with faculty at UNI allows for layoffs and accounts for possibly transferring faculty to other open positions and tenured faculty are the last to be laid off when a program reduction becomes necessary. Allen said UNI will not be terminating employees.
The letter documents efforts the administration has made to involve faculty groups in the process and acknowledges a willingness to work more closely with them in the future.