A Message from the President
June 18, 2012 - Campus Update on AAUP
As you may know, the AAUP recently voted to place three Louisiana institutions, including Southeastern, on its censure list. The decision regarding Southeastern is a result of the AAUP "investigation" into the discontinuance of French and French Education degree programs and related termination of three faculty members.
In response, Dr. Randy Moffett, President of the University of Louisiana System, released the following statement:
Given our recent interactions with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) during their purported investigation, we are certainly not surprised by their decision. The report issued by the AAUP contained well over 100 flaws including numerous errors and omission of key evidence that shows each university followed its handbook, management board rules and policies, and state laws in handling personnel matters. Furthermore, the AAUP blatantly ignored the dire financial situation that propagated actions by our institutions and continues to be a challenge. University of Louisiana System schools have lost $187 million in state funding since 2008 and will lose an additional $54 million next year.
If the AAUP wants to be a relevant organization, its efforts would be better served by working with higher education in advocating for adequate funding of institutions, thus mitigating the need for universities to close programs and associated faculty positions. The UL System would certainly be willing to work with the AAUP should it decide to adopt this more proactive stance that would better benefit faculty and students.
Placing universities on a censure list has little, if any, practical implication as the AAUP is an advocacy group that holds no authority over higher education institutions and represents less than four percent of instructional staff at degree-granting institutions nationwide. In fact, all institutions currently on its list maintain full accreditation, which is a true, independent measure of quality delivery of educational services.
A marked up version of the final AAUP report as well as all relevant correspondence can be found on the UL System website at www.ulsystem.edu/AAUP.
As indicated in my April 12, 2012, campus update on the matter, Southeastern's former French and French Education programs together averaged only 14.6 majors over the last five years, producing an average 2.2 annual graduates. This is well below the threshold ultimately established by the Louisiana Board of Regents as acceptable for sustaining academic programs.
With the additional budget reductions we face in the upcoming fiscal year, we will have lost nearly $40 million in state support since 2008-09. Given these circumstances, we have aggressively acted to protect our core academic programs, with the result that out of more than 200 faculty and staff positions eliminated to date, only three tenured faculty have lost their positions.
While I understand that the purpose of the AAUP is to advocate for its members, the level of misrepresentation in its report leading to the censure decision is disappointing and certainly not indicative of what one would expect from an organization of professional educators.
Given the AAUP's decision to censure Southeastern, I want to take this opportunity to clarify several points.
First, AAUP censure is a condemnation of the administration, not the institution.
Second, contrary to assertions by local AAUP members, the AAUP has no official or legal standing, and censure by the AAUP has no impact on accreditation or other operational aspects of the institution.
Third, this administration remains committed to engaging all of our faculty and staff in dialogue and collaborative processes that help inform decisions which allow us to sustain the healthy operations of our most vital and vibrant programs.
And finally, despite any action by the AAUP, my approach will continue to be to prioritize the success of our students and institutional support for our productive academic programs.