The NC State chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) seeks to promote the welfare of faculty at NC State and to advance the causes of academic freedom, shared governance, due process, current issues of faculty concern, and the other objectives of the AAUP.
We are here to support NC State faculty. Should you be in conflict with the University administration or just want support and advice, please email our chapter president.
March 10, 2023
NC State AAUP statement on changes to Policy 300.5.1, “Political Activities of Employees,” in the University of North Carolina code
The NC State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) hereby expresses its opposition to the revision to Policy 300.5.1, “Political Activities of Employees,” in the University of North Carolina code, and calls for the rule to be rescinded.
The core of the revision is the following:
“… the University shall neither solicit nor require an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement. Nor shall any employee or applicant be solicited or required to describe his or her actions in support of, or in opposition to, such beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles.”
These are extremely broad and vague prohibitions offered under the guise of protecting the free speech of candidates for position or admission. They go far beyond preventing a candidate from being compelled to state a given position on these matters to prohibit even posing questions about them. Under this rule, severe sanctions are proposed on university system employees who violate these prohibitions. Such sanctions clearly would “penalize or discipline members of its (University of North Carolina) faculties because of the exercise of academic freedom in the lawful pursuit of their respective areas of scholarly and professional interest and responsibility” [Section 601: University of North Carolina Code]. As such they would violate the University of North Carolina Code.
Most problematic is the phrase “matters of contemporary political debate or social action.” There are many established truths within the academy that may be matters of political debate in broader society, including, human-caused climate change, biological evolution by natural selection, the brutality of enslavement and its role in the development of the United States, and the absence of biological races in humans, among many others. Also subject to “political debate” in some circles is the value of a “diverse, equitable, and inclusive community” and the need to champion “equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and well-being.” The former is quoted from the North Carolina State University vision and the latter from Goal 4 of the university’s strategic plan.
Under the revised policy, search committees could no longer ask candidates for faculty positions how they would teach core elements of academic disciplines, and candidates for faculty and administrative positions could no longer be asked how they would support the university’s vision and strategic goals. Frank conversations with candidates for positions and for promotion on a wide range of topics would become impossible.
As indicated above, the rule change is inconsistent with the NC State strategic plan. Beyond that we note that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (the body that accredits NC State) states “Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion is an opportunity for institutions to recruit students of all backgrounds, identities, and abilities; to support them, adapt teaching methods and use technology to meet their needs and break down barriers to learning; and to successfully guide, mentor, retain, and graduate them. Equally important is the opportunity to recruit a diverse faculty and staff that reflects the larger society.” These positions are, once again,“matters of contemporary political debate” in some circles, so it must be questioned whether the university would be able to sustain its accreditation while adhering to the proposed rule.
Finally the rule was developed by politically appointed Board of Governors staff members, without consultation with or input from University of North Carolina faculty, including the system Faculty Assembly. This is inconsistent with any pretense of shared governance within the university.
In summary, the changes to the University of North Carolina code are inconsistent with a university that is committed to scholarly excellence and inclusive and effective instruction and that conducts its business according to established principles of shared governance. We oppose this rule change. Given the grievous harm that would be done by this rule to our university, we call upon our campus leadership and faculty colleagues to join us in speaking out against it and calling for it to be rescinded.
April 7, 2021
NC State AAUP statement on pandemic-related support for faculty
The pandemic has and will continue to have a dramatic impact on the productivity of our junior colleagues, and it will take considerable time to catch up with the effort lost during that period. Current university policy allows only assistant professors to receive a one-year extension for promotion and tenure upon request. While we support this policy, we believe the university can do much more to support faculty given the severe impacts of the pandemic.
Current policy requires faculty to explicitly request an extension. Many faculty, worried about the reactions of colleagues, may be reluctant to make this request. Instead, extensions should be given automatically to everyone, with the policy of opting out if a faculty member chooses. This is the policy of other universities (e.g., UMass Amherst and Vanderbilt).
The needs of assistant professors vary; some may benefit from a tenure clock extension, while others would prefer more time now rather than extending their clock. Assistant professors should be given the option of choosing either the extension or given a course buyout to assist them with their research. Some assistant professors in some departments are receiving course relief; this policy should be extended to all assistant professors. Stanford, for example, is offering a post-pandemic research quarter. We ask that the university provide one semester of course relief to all tenure-track faculty. Funding for this should come from central administration and not rely on departmental funds.
Current policy requires tenured faculty undergoing post-tenure review to apply to their department head and dean for approval for a one-year extension. If assistant professors receive a one-year extension simply upon request, the same policy should be applied to tenured faculty.
Faculty with children were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and moving forward the University should consider ways to support these faculty as they work to catch up for time lost. Some work-study positions should be converted to tutoring positions, to assist faculty with younger children struggling with school. West Virginia University is offering tutoring for children of faculty and has a faculty childcare emergency relief fund. The University of Chicago offers free tutoring, and UMass-Amherst funded a faculty childcare emergency fund.
Our professional faculty play an essential role at the University, and we should consider ways to support the disruption the pandemic has had on their work and careers. For those on a multi-year contract, we recommend an automatic one-year renewal at the end of their contract. We also recognize that our part-time and full-time professional track colleagues did not receive the $1000/course preparation supplement given to tenured and tenure-track faculty, and encourage the administration to consider including retroactively professional track faculty in this supplement.
January 8, 2021
In light of recent events and the impending start of the spring semester, one of our chapter members compiled a list of resources on academic freedom in the classroom. It's important to know your rights as a faculty member. Below are a few resources for you to understand your rights.
Defining academic freedom (InsideHigherEd, December, 2010)
Faculty rights in the classroom (Aaron Nisenson, AAUP Senior Counsel)
In defense of knowledge and higher education (AAUP Committee A, 2020)
Freedom in the classroom (AAUP Committee A, 2007)
FAQs in the wake of the 2016 election (AAUP and AFT)
Academic and electronic communications (AAUP, 2014)
If the University takes action against you in a way that you believe infringes on your right to academic freedom, we can help. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the chapter president at email@example.com .
November 30, 2020
Few faculty members know their rights or where to get help when the University takes adverse action against them. The NC State AAUP chapter is here to support faculty by providing resources and helping them understand their rights and University processes and policies.
For example, recently, a tenured faculty member requested their Faculty Discharge Hearing be open to the public. We agree with her request for transparency in this high stakes hearing and sent an email in support of openness. With the faculty member's permission, we have posted copy of the email we sent to Hearing panel members here.
Feel free to contact us should you need our support or assistance. We encourage you not to use your email when corresponding with us, and we will keep any exchanges in the strictest of confidence.
October 13, 2020
The Technician editorial raises some important points about what the administration has learned (or not learned) from the fall semester debacle. We raise many of the same arguments in our statement to Chancellor Woodson (see below).
October 1, 2020
September 28, 2020 (Read Chancellor Woodson's response to the statement)
NC State AAUP Chapter Statement on Spring 2021 Plans
Along with many other NC State faculty, members of the pending NC State chapter of the American Association of University Professors are alarmed by Chancellor Woodson’s statement on September 23, 2020 about the upcoming spring semester. The plan Chancellor Woodson announced includes a mix of hybrid, face-to-face, and online graduate and undergraduate classes and on campus housing through the spring semester.
We are concerned that the Chancellor did not take responsibility for the consequences of the University’s plans for the current semester. As of September 21, NC State reported 1,111 COVID-19 cases and identified 27 COVID clusters associated with NC State, endangering students and employees as well as the Raleigh community and the home communities of students and employees. Bringing students back to campus this fall caused major disruptions and economic hardship to many students and their families. Planning for in-person classes that were canceled two weeks later was expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive to our entire campus community.
We are troubled that the University failed to consult seriously with NC State faculty—who expected and warned of the rapid spread of Covid-19 in and around the University—nor gave weight to their concerns before making those plans.
We are gravely concerned about the plans the Chancellor has announced for the spring semester, and for deciding on these plans without broad consultation with the faculty. The fall debacle was a failed and dangerous experiment, and the lesson should be to avoid a repeat, or worse. Half-occupancy residence halls and partially-full Greek houses, as well as partial face-to-face instruction during what epidemiologists have warned, may be an exceptionally dangerous time, invites disaster onto our campus and risks further breaking trust with students, faculty, staff, and the community. We urge University leaders to keep residence halls at or below their current levels of occupation and to offer only online instruction.
On behalf of the NC State community, we ask the Chancellor to transparently develop or expand means to seek and heed input about our Covid-19 and educational policies from a broad array of affected stakeholders. These can include our pending AAUP chapter, the NCSU Grad Workers Union, staff representatives, and student advocates. All stakeholders should be provided a venue for input and participation.