Turn it Around; Don’t Give it Away 

Resolution of the AAUP-CBC Executive Committee, August 2009.

Recent decades have witnessed: (a) a systematic shift of institutional monies from educational to administrative expenditures; (b) a disjuncture between rapidly rising tuition versus overused and underpaid contingent faculty and graduate student employees; (c) a growing gap between rising numbers of Full Time Equivalent students and the numbers of tenure-track faculty; and (d) a growing gap between faculty/academic professional and senior administrative salaries.  Each of these patterns work to the detriment of educational quality, institutional effectiveness, student access and success, and broad social benefit.

Many academic managers suggest that their institutions are facing a financial crisis like that of bankrupt companies or states.  Far more make the analogy than is justified by institutions’ actual financial health.  An emerging managerial approach is to call for salary freezes, pay reductions, and/or furloughs for faculty to address immediate budgetary challenges.  A common managerial discourse is to not waste a crisis to further increase managerial “flexibility.”  We urge faculty to address such proposals in the context of long-term trends that compromise higher education. 

The responsible way to address immediate financial challenges is to alter these long term trends, which have reduced institutional commitment to the professionals who teach and serve students, to those people and activities that produce educational and scholarly value in the academy. 
 
The AAUP thereby resolves that faculty should work to turn this situation around, and should not give their pay away in temporary measures that do not structurally readjust higher education’s direction.  Turning the situation around means that faculty should (a) gain access to full information about institutional finances and all other strategically relevant data, ensuring that institutions open their books to shed light on the institution’s overall condition; (b) exercise a fuller voice in analyzing and making recommendations about budgets and strategic directions, opening the boardroom door to take a central role in institutional decision making; & (c) pursue measures that reverse the long standing trends and protect the core academic functions of higher education, opening up educational opportunity by reinvesting in educational expenditures.
 
In those extraordinarily unusual situations in which faculty determine that the budgetary situation is a demonstrably bona fide financial crisis, disproportionate cuts should first come from non-educational expenditures.  If faculty determine all other feasible alternatives have been pursued, and that exigency justifies givebacks, they should work to embed in any plan conditions that protect current instructional capacity, provide faculty a greater role in resource allocation, and that reverse the trends identified above, which undercut our ability to serve students and society.
 
The sustainable path to higher education’s recovery, and contribution to the nation’s recovery, lies not in further depleting our faculties, the country’s intellectual capital, but in building capacity, reinvesting in faculty and academic professionals, who are essential to increasing student access and success, thereby expanding the nation’s human, cultural, and social capital.