Monday, May 31, 2010

Academic Freedom Update

In case you were wondering, this is what is happening with the situation at Louisiana State University involving a tenured professor (Dr. Dominique Homberger) who was removed mid-semester from teaching an introductory biology class for failing too many students (see previous posts for details).

The LSU Faculty Senate reports in its May 31 newsletter that the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) will be sending a team of investigators to campus to "probe the state of academic freedom and assorted other irregularities on our campus".  The delegation, which will include faculty members from universities such as Michigan State University and Tulane University, is scheduled to be in Baton Rouge on August 27th and 28th.  I would like to be a fly on the wall.

The LSU Faculty Senate is also considering a resolution to affirm faculty members' right to assign grades.

The newsletter also reports removal of another professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, supposedly due to "firm grading practices".

The implication is that these cases reflect statewide policies and political intrusion into academic affairs.  A recent article in the Academe (Magazine of the AAUP) has a good discussion of "top-down leadership" and why it is inappropriate for colleges (the article focuses on community colleges, but the general idea applies to 4-yr universities).  I'll review some of the points made in this article in upcoming posts.

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