Local Highlights and Events

Center Closures Expected to be Suspended Pending Shared Governance Process

To:  AAUP members and friends
From: Lois Cox, Newsletter Editor, and Katherine Tachau, President
Re:  Proposed closures of centers and institutes -- some good news! 7/12/18

As many of you are already aware, on Tuesday of this week President Bruce Harreld announced the planned closure of seven campus centers and institutes and signicant reductions in funding to three additional centers, causing 33 P&S and Merit staff members to be placed on "permanent furlough."  He indicated his regret at having to close valuable programs, but stated that the closures were necessitated by recent budgetary decisions made by the Iowa legislature.  A few days before the announcement, colleagues from some of the affected centers and institutes reached out to several members of the Executive Committee as well as to the Faculty Senate officers and a number of other individuals and groups on campus.

Since this news came as a surprise to us and to many of the people directly involved with the units slated for closure, we were immediately concerned as to whether the shared governance processes mandated by AAUP policy had been followed in making the decision to close those units. Accordingly, we contacted Pres. Harreld to express our concern and to urge him to delay any closures or furloughs until the completion of a transparent, deliberative, faculty-led process in which the contributions of these centers and institutes to the university's educational mission can be fully explored. We argued that some of them, like the Labor Center, have collegiate homes within the university, and established partnerships with departments and programs that need to be considered prior to any final decisions on closure. 

You will be aware from local media that a large number of other groups and individuals, from both the university and the larger community, have also contacted Pres. Harreld and other administrators to protest the planned closures. Many of them gave specific examples of ways in which the targeted programs, especially the Labor Center, contribute to the education of students and others within our state in irreplaceable ways.

It now appears that the mounting resistance to these closures and furloughs, and especially to the lack of consultation with faculty regarding decisions with profound consequences for the university's educational mission, has been heard. In the days to come, we expect a follow-up announcement that the closures have been suspended and the furloughs placed on hold (or, in at least one case, rescinded) until the shared governance process required by AAUP principles and policies has been completed.  We look forward to working with faculty and staff colleagues, shared governance representatives, and university administrators to bring that process to a useful conclusion.

Let us be clear: the budget crisis is real and may require valuable programs to suffer. But we owe it to our university, our students, our state, and our profession to make decisions on the basis of full information using fair procedures.
As that process is developed and implemented, we stand with our colleagues in the targeted centers and institutes, and join them in insisting on fair treatment.

Cutting the Labor Center costs Iowan workersPress-Citizen, July 11, 2018

Stacey Andersen, a staff representative at United Steelworkers, said one of these classes taught her how much she didn't know about worker's rights. Mark Sarcone with the American Postal Workers Local 44 said members of his labor union regularly rave about the classes offered by the center. 

"I demand that the university find a way to keep this great center alive," said Sarcone. 

Jennifer Sherer, the center's director, is also challenging the decision, which she said came without warning.


 Sherer said it's still unclear what will be done about the coveted Iowa Labor History Oral Project. Started in the 1970s, the Labor Center has helped compile and transcribe hundreds of interviews with workers across Iowa. Lisa Heineman, a history professor at UI, said the collection is one of the reasons the Labor Center is "on the map in the research world." She and Ashley Dorn, a UI graduate student, described the database as a powerful tool for scholars and instructors alike.

Legal Assistance for individuals affected by changes to DACA

Message from Prof. Bram T.B. Elias, UI College of Law Clinical Program:

"My students in the University of Iowa Law Clinic's immigration practice area are extremely motivated to provide assistance to individuals affected by any changes to the DACA program, and would like to provide consultations, referrals, and (in appropriate circumstances) direct representation to any U of I students with DACA status who seek advice or information about how they might be personally affected by any new presidential policy with regard to DACA. [...]

Our (the Clinic's) phone number is 319-335-9023 and our email is law-legal-clinic@uiowa.edu."

Highlights and events from around the academic world

University of Iowa removed from list of sanctioned universities, marking better board-faculty relationship, Press-Citizen, June 18, 2018

"Among the factors that changed AAUP members' minds was the committee the board worked with following the selection of Harreld and the subsequent document crafted to outline best practices for the presidential search.

Rachel Boon, Board of Regents chief academic officer, sat in on the committee meetings with Regent Sherry Bates roughly once a month last year. The group talked over a lot of the concerns and looked at how searches at Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa could inform searches at UI."

University of Iowa now off sanctions list, Gazette, June 18, 2018

"Harreld has continued to face some criticism about decisions he’s made, like his move to combine the UI Foundation and UI Alumni Association into one entity.

Still, according to an AAUP representative quoted in the association’s news release, “The available evidence suggests that there is a genuine commitment to shared governance at UI, and it is reasonable to expect that the institution’s next presidential search will mark a return to the tradition of a strong faculty role.”"

The following resources from the AAUP are potentially useful to faculty concerned by recent political events:

Faculty Speech after the 2016 Election

Academe blog