| ||David O'Brien, President, University of Illinois AAUP Chapter|
Greetings, fellow members of the AAUP Chapter for tenure-stream faculty at the University of Illinois. In order to keep our members better informed about the Chapter’s activities, we are beginning an occasional newsletter, of which this is the first issue.
This has been a busy year for the Chapter. Your membership has allowed us to continue our advocacy on behalf of the faculty, which we have done in both old and new ways.
Our chapter has a robust tradition of meeting regularly with top administrators at the University. This semester members of the Policy Committee met with Chancellor Robert Jones and Provost Andreas Cangellaris to discuss, among other issues, the University’s new budget model, threats to academic freedom posed by a recent executive order and new policies of the U.S. Department of Education, and harassment of professors as a result of their research.
In addition to meeting with administrators, the Chapter also meets regularly with members of the Board of Trustees. This longstanding tradition had disappeared for some two decades—until five years ago, when it was reestablished thanks to the efforts of former chapter president Harry Hilton. This semester, happily, members of the Policy Committee met with Board of Trustees Chair Don Edwards, Board Member Edward McMillan, President Tim Killeen, and Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson for a cordial and frank discussion of various issues confronting the Board. The discussion focused on three topic that have been of great importance to our members: harassment of faculty for their research, threats to academic freedom by recent government actions, and the rights of faculty to criticize the policies and actions of the University. We are grateful for this renewed access for the University faculty to the Board of Trustees.
In still another collaboration with the University administration, the Chapter reviewed the recommendations of the University of Illinois Report of Sexual Misconduct at the request of the Provost’s Office. This culminated in a meeting with Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Bill Bernhard and members of his staff, in which we communicated both support for much of the Report and criticisms of some aspects of it, primarily related to due process and potential infringements on academic freedom.
This year we have also conducted, under the direction of Professor Hadi Esfahani and again in conjunction with the Provost’s Office, two surveys, one addressed to faculty and the other to department chairs and heads, concerning shared governance on campus. We will make public our analysis of the surveys very shortly.
We were forced to delay our annual workshop on promotion and tenure, a very important service we provide to assistant and associate professors, because of the University’s policies regarding COVID-19. The workshop will either be offered later in the semester or in the fall. We will keep you informed on new developments.
It has been a busy year, and there is more to come. Of special note is our annual business meeting, on Tuesday, May 12, at 3 p.m. in 314B Illini Union. Unlike in other years, and again because of COVID-19, we have decided not to have guest speakers as part of the meeting. Instead, we will have a general discussion of the goals of the Chapter, and, if necessary, we will arrange for attendance online. I hope to see you all there, whether in person or on a video screen!