In an unprecedented series of coordinated maneuvers, Miami’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) garnered a two-thirds majority in University Senate to alter the agenda of the April 30 session.
As a result of the agenda change and the AAUP’s organized efforts, Senate recommended changes to the university’s academic freedom statement and opted to delay a vote that would increase the proportion of non-tenure-track faculty members the university can hire.
Monday was Senate’s last scheduled meeting of the semester, but members voted to reconvene next week for a vote on the university-wide cap on lecturers, clinically and professionally licensed (LCPL) faculty, which is proposed to increase from 20 to 25 percent of Miami’s total full-time teaching population.
Members of Miami’s AAUP chapter circulated a petition over the weekend urging senators to table the vote and were also behind the two resolutions to the academic freedom statement, which passed with friendly amendments after being introduced Monday.
The resolutions are aimed at preserving tenure and securing due-process protections, promotion opportunities and other modes of recognition for non-tenure-track faculty. Because University Senate only has legislative power over curriculum matters, the changes will now be passed to Miami’s Board of Trustees (BoT) as recommended amendments to official university policy.
If passed by the BoT, the recommendations would modify section 5.1 of the Miami University Policy and Information Manual (MUPIM), which was ratified in 1950.
Several senators voiced support for the changes during Monday’s meeting, including Gaile Pohlhaus, a professor of philosophy and a member of Miami AAUP’s steering committee.
“Academic freedom is more than freedom of expression,” Pohlhaus said at the meeting. “It is freedom not to be fired for what you teach, and for those of us in the humanities, that is a pressing issue.”
Pohlhaus and others emphasized the importance of due process for non-tenure-track faculty members, who currently comprise more than half of Miami faculty.
The senate also voted to establish an ad hoc committee to make recommendations to its body on issues related to faculty composition.
Next week, it will vote on the proposed increase in the number of LCPL faculty the university can hire. AAUP co-president Cathy Wagner, who wrote the petition asking for a delay, expressed concern about voting on the issue in a hurry.
One-hundred and sixty-three faculty members signed the actionnetwork.org petition in a 24-hour span, and it was sent to senators late Monday morning. Senators decided at the end of Monday’s meeting to hold the vote on May 7.
“It’s a really important issue, probably the most important one that’s been brought up before the Senate this semester,” Wagner told The Student. “It just seems really inappropriate that such an important issue would be saved until the last minute.”
Wagner said waiting a week would allow more time for discussion of the LCPL cap, which she called a “decision of great moment” for the entire university community.
“The lecturer cap, from AAUP’s perspective, is the occasion for a larger conversation about non-tenure-line faculty status and ranks at Miami,” Wagner said.