From efforts to eliminate tenure to the online intimidation of faculty, higher education is under attack across the country. The AAUP’s work to confront these challenges and to strengthen the core values of higher education have never been more vital.

Tenure, which is integral to academic freedom, has been the most recent target of concerted, state-level attacks. In Iowa, a bill would eliminate tenure at public institutions, even for faculty who already have it. A Missouri bill would end tenure for all new hires by 2018. In North Dakota, the state university system is considering a significant reduction in the termination notice given to tenured faculty members.

Attempts to destroy tenure are just one part of widespread attacks on higher education. Professors are being targeted with online harassment through watchlists and other means. The Trump administration wants to ban faculty, researchers, and students from certain countries from entering the US. The recently confirmed Secretary of Education is unqualified and hostile to public education. The US president attacks climate science, while seeking to dramatically reduce vital funding for research. State and national officials are taking square aim at collective bargaining and seeking to sap the power of public sector unions, which provide a voice to faculty and academic professionals.

Here’s what the AAUP is doing to protect academic freedom and tenure across the country:

  • We’ll be holding a webinar on February 28 entitled Academic Freedom in the Age of Trump. It will provide an overview of the concept of academic freedom, describe recent attacks on it, and tell you how to defend it. RSVP here (you’ll need to login with your member credentials).
  • We’ve released a statement on the targeted online harassment of faculty, addressing increasing concerns about efforts to intimidate and harass faculty. Read that here.
  • We’ve also created an FAQ with the American Federation of Teachers addressing frequently asked questions about discussing the 2016 election in the classroom, responding to intimidation and threats, and other issues. Here is the FAQ.

Our work on these issues is not new. For over 100 years, the AAUP has been on the front lines advocating for academic freedom and protecting the work of faculty and academic professionals to benefit society. These are challenging times, but the AAUP will continue to fight for conditions that support quality education. Stay tuned for more updates and more resources soon.

Thank you,

Hans-Joerg Tiede

Senior Program Officer

Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance