The American Association of University Professors voted Saturday during its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., to censure LSU and a pair of universities in the University of Louisiana System — Northwestern State in Natchitoches and Southeastern in Hammond — bringing to five the number of state institutions of higher learning on the AAUP’s censure list now numbering 52. Nicholls State University and Our Lady of Holy Cross College were already on the censure list for AAUP-perceived mistreatment of professors.
“Censure by the AAUP informs the academic community that the administration of an institution has not adhered to the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure jointly formulated by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and endorsed by more than 200 professional and educational organizations,” the group writes in an introduction to the censure reports.
LSU was censured because of the ouster of Ivor van Heerden, a nationally recognized coastal researcher who was intensely and publicly critical of the Army Corps of Engineers’ role in the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. The AAUP also cites the case of LSU biology professor Dominique Homberger, who was removed from the classroom by LSU for alleged harsh grading practices.
Northwestern and Southeastern were censured for using “program discontinuances as an excuse to get rid of selected tenured faculty members” in response to state budget cuts, the AAUP says.
Immediately on the heels of the reports’ release Saturday, UL System President Randy Moffett went to bat for his universities, citing $187 million in budget cuts since 2008 with an additional $54 million slated for 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,” Moffett writes, adding, “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.”
Read the full AAUP reports on LSU, Northwestern and Southeastern here. Moffett’s full response is here.