Louisiana is the epicenter of an assault on the university as a community of scholars. The state has become notorious for eroding academic freedom and its foundation in shared governance and tenure.
After the rough-shod procedures adopted by New Orleans universities in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, recent tactics continue to evade and undermine long-established practices for dealing with financial pressures..
In the Summer of 2010, the administration of Southeastern Louisiana University announced the closure of its French program and the dismissal of three tenured faculty members, Margaret Marshall, Katherine Kolb and Evelyne Bornier, among the most highly regarded professors on campus. In violation of University guidelines and AAUP standards, the program closure was determined without consulting the faculty concerned. Nor did the program, in fact, close: French courses are still being taught; a French minor is still offered. In further violation of University policy and AAUP guidelines, these courses are being staffed by instructors, who, in cases of program closure are to be dismissed before tenured faculty.
The SLU administration ignored wide-spread protest, rejected the unanimous findings of the SLU Faculty Grievance committee and the Faculty Senate’s urging the professors’ reinstatement, and sneered at the AAUP’s subsequent investigation and censure.
The three professors have filed suit, a courageous action given that the legal and financial resources of the defendant far exceed their own.
The cause of the three professors is crucial to academics throughout the state and across the nation. If the university prevails in its shocking abridgment of fair treatment of these three exemplary professors, it will set a grievous precedent for arbitrary administrative infringement of tenure rights everywhere.
The Louisiana Conference of AAUP has established a fund to help cover the legal costs incurred by the three professors in their struggle on behalf of us all: students present and future, parents and faculty everywhere.
We are asking all faculty and the community at large to make contributions in support of this fight. Give all you can.
Mail a check made out to LSC/AAUP to: Professor Alvin Burstein, 7008 Longvue Drive, Mandeville, LA 70448
Author Bio:Alvin Burstein is Professor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.