The Nuclear Option for Faculty?

A rise in faculty bodies voting “no-confidence” is analyzed in this article:

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New Study on Tenure from AAUP

Today, AAUP announced the publication of a new study on tenure. From Joerg Tiede, director of research at AAUP:

“Today, we released the2022 AAUP Survey of Tenure Practices, the first survey of its kind since 2004. The findings offer a snapshot of prevailing tenure practices and policies at four-year institutions with tenure systems. Among those findings, the survey found that tenure is highly prevalent throughout US higher education, with 87 percent of four-year institutions that have a Carnegie Classification of bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral institution reporting having a tenure system.

Additional central findings include:

  • 82 percent of institutions permit probationary faculty members to stop the tenure clock for reasons of childbearing or child rearing, which represents an enormous shift in institutional policies over the past twenty years. A 2000 study of institutional regulations found that 17 percent of the same types of institutions provided that opportunity. This is a strong trend toward AAUP recommended practices.
  • Of those that offer policies to stop the tenure clock, almost all (93 percent) make the option available to faculty members regardless of gender, in recognition that partners can be coequal caretakers of newborn or newly adopted children. Only 51 percent of institutions explicitly permit stopping the tenure clock for elder care.
  • There has been an increase of institutions that have a post-tenure review program: 46 percent of institutions had a post-tenure review policy in 2000, and 58.2 percent of institutions have one now. Only 27 percent of four-year institutions with a tenure system have post-tenure review programs that can result in termination.
  • Tenure criteria related to diversity, equity, and inclusion can be found at 22 percent of institutions; 39 percent of institutions’ criteria for tenure had been reviewed for implicit bias in the last five years; and 40 percent of institutions had provided training on implicit bias to members of promotion and tenure committees in the last five years.

The survey was administered to a stratified random sample of 515 chief academic officers and had a response rate of 52.8 percent. Here’s the link to the survey once again.

And a brief note about our work: the AAUP’s research department has been making a special effort to produce research on academic freedom, tenure, and governance, and this survey on tenure practices is one example of a study on these issues. More to come.”

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Open Letter to President Sands and Provost Clark from VT AAUP Regarding Masking Policy at VT

Dear President Sands and Provost Clarke :

The Virginia Tech chapter of the American Association of University Professors endorses the Faculty Senate’s 2/27 statement on continuing the requirement for mask mandates through the end of the semester for the safety of faculty, staff, and students. We concur fully with its reasoning and conclusions.

While we appreciate the administration’s willingness to give faculty flexibility, it is important for it to issue clear centralized guidelines and enforcement so that individual faculty members are not left to implement a mask strategy that varies from class to class. We understand the tension between the institution’s needs to address mental health issues that have been exacerbated by a variety of mitigation approaches and its desire to protect the physical health of our community—nonetheless we assert that the choice to wear a mask is not a private matter but a public one, since mask wearing provides the greatest benefit to others. We are strongest and the most united when we put the well-being of others above our personal considerations. Faculty and students should have the freedom to educate and learn in an environment that is as safe as possible. 

We hope that the university will communicate clear, scientifically based plans for the fall 2022 semester.  We also hope for a variety of contingencies to address a range of likely scenarios. We understand that there is a likelihood of having a smaller proportion of vaccinated individuals on campus in the Fall 2022 semester, and we support efforts to maximize the health and safety of the entire university community.

This is an opportunity to display our collective solidarity to make working and learning at Virginia Tech as safe as possible. We stand committed to work with the faculty and the leadership of our university to promote a healthy work environment for all. Thank you again for your openness to our concerns and your ongoing efforts to address these challenges. 
VTAAUP Executive Committee

Here is the VT Faculty Senate’s statement of 2/27:


We, the leaders of the Faculty Senate and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, request that the indoor mask mandate remain in place for the remainder of the 2022 spring semester.

The idea of removing our masks likely appeals to most of us. To be done with them would feel like being done with COVID-19, like going back to our lives before we had to use terms like “super spreader” and “social distancing,” before vaccinations and testing, before this pandemic killed millions, sickened more, and forced us apart from each other in ways we are still struggling to understand.  

But we are not done with COVID-19, or COVID-19 is not done with us, and the understandable sense of personal liberation that would come from putting away our masks would also come at a cost to those who cannot afford to exercise this choice, like our immunocompromised community members. Masks work when everyone wears them. To treat them as an option, a personal choice, requires setting aside the science and pretending that we don’t know what we know about this airborne pathogen, about its nature and transmission.

We use the phrase Ut Prosim so often that it can lose meaning and become something we say more than a philosophy we put into action. But the aspirational nature of the phrase – that I may serve, that I may set aside personal ease or advantage in favor of the community, that I may look out for those who are vulnerable or less privileged — turns the idea of sacrifice around. At Virginia Tech, we draw pride from what we ask of ourselves, more than what is asked of us by others.

We believe that the minimal hardships of masking are outweighed by the collective protection they offer and the symbolism of being together in our struggle against COVID-19. We too would like to see the expressions of our colleagues and students, and look forward to the day when the suffering and isolation of this period are at an end. But we are not at that point, and with so little time left in the academic year, maintaining the mask mandate poses no great burden relative to the possible advantages. We will learn more about COVID-19 over the summer, both its nature and the conditions we can expect to be dealing with in the next academic year. If it turns out that we are able to put away our masks in the fall, the additional time to prepare for a change in what has become the norm will be an advantage to all of us.

While it is the norm at Virginia Tech that we look out for each other, it is the sole responsibility of those who lead the university to make decisions that keep us all safe. As faculty members and students, we cannot begin to understand the enormity of that burden or the complexity of weighing all the expectations and requests directed at the president, the provost, and the Board of Visitors. But we are charged to speak for our senators and those they represent, and consequently call on the administration to maintain the mask mandate for the remainder of the spring semester in classrooms and other indoor spaces where large numbers of people congregate. It is our belief that doing so would not only benefit the health of our community but make clear that Virginia Tech prioritizes the wellbeing of every employee, student, and faculty member, and wants to create a campus where all are welcome.

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Open Meeting by Zoom, Wednesday, February 16, 2020

The Virginia Tech AAUP chapter will have an open meeting for ALL VT faculty (not just AAUP chapter members) on Wednesday, February 16 at 12:30 pm. And faculty is defined broadly – instructors, post-docs, graduate students and any other non-tenure track faculty. The topic is open – what are your concerns, especially in the time of covid and with the changing landscape in Virgina? BYOL – “Bring” Your Own Lunch!

The meeting invitation is shown below: Joe Merola is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: VT AAUP meeting

Time: Feb 16, 2022 12:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 885 1565 0669

Meeting ID: 885 1565 0669

Find your local number:

Join by SIP

Join by Skype for Business

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Virtual Brown Bag Discussion Wednesday, December 1 at Noon

AAUP Members:

The Virginia Tech chapter of the AAUP will gather on Zoom for a discussion of ideas and experiences around academic freedom.  This will be a member’s only gathering and will not be recorded.  

To seed the conversion we ask that you read this editorial from the Washington Post.
In addition you’ll be invited to share any experiences you’ve had around the topic, or thoughts about particular aspects of academic freedom that are of concern for you. 

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Next VTAAUP Virtual Meeting – Tuesday, November 2

We are slowly coming out from under cover hiding from THE virus. We have a ways to go, and we would like you to join us November 5 for a very relevant Zoom meeting: Tuesday, November 2 from 4:00 – 5:00 pm we will gather on Zoom for the next in our series on Emerging from the Pandemic: Challenges and Lessons Learned with MikeMulhare. Our speaker is Assistant Vice President for emergency management and he is a knowledgeable and compelling presenter. He will speak for ~ 25 minutes, and then we’ll have a 25 minute Q and A. This meeting will be held on Zoom and be open to the entire campus community. Mike will focus on institutional and individual resiliency as we emerge from the pandemic. What have we learned that is useful? What do individual faculty members need to understand about our current circumstances? Don’t miss this informative session. Please publicize to your own department and consider specifically inviting a few colleagues.

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VT Chapter Organizational Change

The officers and executive committee members of the VT chapter will be dividing the labor a bit differently for the next several months.  We have learned that that job of secretary-treasurer might be best divided into two positions so we can do a better job of communicating with and serving our members.  We will be working on a revision to thechapter’s bylaws and we will bring that to you for discussion and a vote in the spring . . . but in the meantime I write to let you know that Joe Merola (currently an executive committee member) will be handling the communications portion of the work. Please look for emails from him about our activities. Kris Hite will continue to serve as the chapter’s treasurer. 
We hope that this stopgap action will be acceptable to all of you. If you have any concerns, please reach out to Patty Raun.
I hope this shift in duties will make the roles of the officer’s in the VT Chapter more manageable (and perhaps more attractive to any of you that would like to play a larger role in the organization).  Although some of your current officers and committee members may be running again, we will hold elections for all organizational positions in the spring. 
Thanks so much for all you do!

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Membership social has been moved online

Thurs. Sept. 9 from 5 – 6:30

We had hoped to gather in person next week but because of the Covid rates in the county the Executive Committee has decided to move the meeting online.

Please join us online for community and conversation. We promise to make it joyful, engaging, and informative. Zoom Meeting

We are anxious to hear from VT faculty and grad students about your experiences this fall, and will use this time to get to know each other. The Executive Committee will listen to any concerns. 4. VT AAUP members are encouraged to join us and to share the link for this meeting with potential members

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Academic Freedom: A Conversation with Robert Quinn

Our meeting on 2/11/21 from 4 – 5 pm will be on the subject of Academic Freedom: What it is and what it isn’t. Our guest speaker will be Robert Quinn, Executive Director of Scholars at Risk 

We encourage you to read this article by Mr. Quinn before the meeting—and-define—academic-freedom#.X_jV7S2cbHc. He will speak to the gathered group for 20 minutes or so and then he’ll take questions that will facilitate our future discussions about Academic Freedom at Virginia Tech.

Our speaker on Feb. 11, 4 – 5 pm will be Robert Quinn who is the founding Executive Director of the Scholars at Risk Network, an independent not-for-profit corporation based at New York University. Mr. Quinnformerly served as a member of the Council of the Magna Charta Observatory, based in Bologna, Italy; Executive Director of the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund; on the Steering Committee of the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR), based in London, UK; a member of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a member of the Scientific Committee of Pax Academica, an online journal on academic freedom in Africa published by CODESRIA from Dakar, Senegal; a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows Program in Washington, DC. He received an A.B. cum laude from Princeton in 1988, a J.D. cum laude from Fordham in 1994, and an honorary doctorate from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2010. In 2012, Mr. Quinn and Scholars at Risk received the University of Oslo’s human rights award, the Lisl and Leo Eitinger Prize, for “relentless work to protect the human rights of academics and for having inspired and engaged others to stress the importance of academic freedom.”

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VT AAUP Virtual Event: Interactive Conversation on Our Campus Community and Coronavirus!

The VT AAUP Chapter is hosting an event! An Interactive Conversation: Our Campus Community and Coronavirus

When: 4:30 – 5:30, Wednesday, July 1

Why: The executive committee of the VT AAUP wants to build the community of scholars, researchers, creative artists, and teachers at Virginia Tech. We invite you to share your hopes and concerns, whatever is in your hearts, or on your minds. You’ll meet folks that are not in your discipline and discover perspectives that you may not have considered.

Who: All Virginia Tech faculty or graduate students involved in the education, research, Extension, and service missions of Virginia Tech. This is an open meeting for our community.

How: Please register on EventBrite…/RgRgzM9dP0TKaHR0cHM6Ly93d3c… and you will be sent the Zoom information closer to the event.

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