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Key Articles

What the AAUP Means to Members

What the AAUP Means to Me

Kenneth J. Arrow
(Stanford University, Nobel Prize in Economics)

"The American Association of University Professors has, for nearly a century, been the defender of freedom in the academic community. Academic freedom is both a moral value in its own right and an essential component to the innovative and educational function of universities . . . All those who appreciate the central role of academic freedom in our modern world should generously help the AAUP as its indomitable champion."

Robert N. Bellah
(University of California at Berkeley)

"We cannot afford to take the university for granted; it is a fragile institution, surviving only because of the dedicated activities of those who would see it grow and prosper. Now more than ever we need the stalwart defense that only the AAUP can provide."

Kate Bronfenbrenner
(Cornell University)

"If… [Beverly Enterprises] had succeeded in its efforts to silence me or gain access to my data, the impact on scholars in every field would have been devastating. That is why AAUP’s support for my case was so important not just for me, but for academics in general."

Jonathan R. Cole
(Columbia University)

"We are witnessing today a rising tide of anti-intellectualism and an increasing intolerance of university and college teaching and research that offends external political ideologues. Not since the dark days of McCarthyism in the 1950s have we witnessed such a sustained and subtle attack on academic freedom . . . . Professors are being publicly savaged for the content of their ideas; peer review systems are being compromised; faculty and student computer and library records are being accessed by the FBI without probable cause; talented foreign students and scholars are finding it difficult to study or work in the United States because of immigration restrictions and visa rules; NIH research on biological and social science problems are being questioned because they offend the political sensibilities of members of Congress and the current administration. Why does this matter? Universities remain perhaps the only sanctuary for the relatively unbridled and unfettered search for truth and for profoundly new, but important ideas. Without a climate of free inquiry where faculty members can challenge existing orthodoxies and dogma and can dare others to rebut their ideas, creativity and discovery will suffer . . . If academic freedom is compromised, it won’t be long before the engine of innovation slows and our great centers of academic excellence lose their preeminence. What can be done? More than ever, we need to support the mission of the AAUP to defend aggressively the role that academic freedom plays in producing true distinction at American universities and colleges. The need to educate the public on the meaning and place of academic freedom in colleges and universities is greater today than ever before and that need can best be met by the work of the AAUP."

Deborah Cooperstein
(Adelphi University)

"The AAUP Legal Defense Fund’s support to the Committee to Save Adelphi was critical in our successful effort to remove 18 of the university’s 19 trustees for serious dereliction of their responsibilities, and to remove President Peter Diamandopoulos."

Mary Gibson
(Rutgers University)

"Through the AAUP, I make connections with women colleagues in all disciplines, on my own campus and across the country. We share many of the same challenges, and, working together, we can create some very sensible solutions."

Rev. Theodore Hesburgh
(president emeritus, University of Notre Dame)

"For more than ninety years, the AAUP has been working conscientiously to protect and preserve academic freedom for all scholars in America, whatever their ideology, gender, religion, status within the profession, nationality, or sexual orientation."

Stanley N. Katz
(Princeton University; president emeritus, American Council of Learned Societies)

". . . there is only one organization whose primary mission is to promote vigilance in the name of academic freedom. It is the AAUP."

Louis Menand
(Harvard University)

"The AAUP is our only bulwark, outside the courts, against threats to freedom of thought. It has served college teachers and scholars well for almost one hundred years by identifying, publicizing, and working to correct abuses of the principle of academic freedom, and by scrupulously distinguishing between abuses of that principle and cases of simple disagreement or controversy. It is a watchdog, not a lobby, and we are all indebted to it."

David Montgomery
(Yale University)

"For almost a century the AAUP has provided the most important instrument through which college and university teachers have sought to defend their academic freedom against recurrent efforts by government, business, and other outside agencies to regulate teaching and discussion on campus or the participation of academics in public affairs. It has also played an increasingly important role in improving the terms under which academics are employed. Today those efforts are more important than ever. Government bodies, both state and federal, and organized and financed groups claiming to speak for "civil society" intervene systematically to shape academic curricula and personnel, while reduced legislative appropriations and the infusion of corporate models of governance produce rapidly increasing use of contingent faculty. Academics must act together to uphold the intellectual vitality of higher education through the courts, public forums, and sound research."

Martha Nussbaum
(Harvard University)

" . . . For many years, without fanfare, the AAUP has provided effective support for academic freedom, courageously defending all scholars in the U. S., whatever their political views, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or status in the profession. This has not always been easy, and it is not likely to be easy in the future . . . Academic freedom and the free search for truth are essential to a genuinely free and democratic society."

Robert M. O’Neil
(Director, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression; former president, University of Virginia)

"The AAUP is so many ways the conscience of the academic profession in the United States. Its unwavering commitment to the protection of academic freedom, tenure and due process for faculty has never been more vital than in the perilous times since the September 11 attacks. The Association’s vigilance is the more remarkable for several qualities that distinguish it from other faculty organizations – that an embattled or beleaguered professor who seeks aid and counsel need not be an AAUP member, that AAUP actively collaborates with and supports administrators and governing boards when faculty interests warrant doing so, and that AAUP demands rigorous adherence to its basic principles even within its own ranks. The Association’s leadership has recognized over the years that academic freedom is only as secure as its ability to withstand utmost stress and pressure from hostile forces, both within and outside the academy."

Rosa Maria Pegueros
(University of Rhode Island)

"Women often find that the teaching and research they pursue takes them into nontraditional fields and perspectives. We especially need the AAUP’s solid protections of academic freedom."

Donald L. Uchtmann
(University of Illinois)

"I knew little about AAUP in the early days of my academic career, nor did I appreciate the unique role of the university in American society.  More recently, I have come to realize the critical role AAUP has played, in Illinois and across the nation, in protecting academic freedom and tenure.  AAUP has served the higher education community in many valuable ways, and it needs the continuing support and participation of faculty so that it can continue to fulfill this invaluable role."

Cary Nelson
(University of Illinois)

When new technologies emerge, new arguments have to be made. New policy has to be written. The wide range of policy documents the AAUP disseminates could not be produced by any one campus. We involve people from a wide variety of colleges and universities in crafting statements. We have a professional staff devoted to researching issues. We are the only game in town, and we do this work very well indeed. The strongest advocacy chapter, the strongest CB local, the strongest faculty senate, could not build the necessary support for academic freedom into its rules or contracts without Academe and the AAUP's 300-page Redbook as sources.

Over the last decade alone, the AAUP has published over 30 policy statements and some 26 investigative reports. Recent policy statements range from "The Faculty Role on the Reform of Intercollegiate Athletics" to "Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis," from "Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications" to "Academic Freedom and Outside Speakers," along with statements on the rights of graduate students, part-time faculty, and academic professionals. They offer campuses detailed language they can incorporate directly into their regulations.

Your AAUP membership is often described as an insurance policy for the professoriate. It is that and more. Your dues pay for this elaborate process of researching and writing policy about emerging--and often unanticipated--matters that are critical to the survival of an effective professoriate. These policies are necessary if you are to do your job. Your academic discipline needs them; you need them in your daily life. The most powerful and the most vulnerable faculty members benefit from them every day. Without them, the academy would be a chaos of conflicting policy established by administrative fiat.

What would the academy be like today without the 1940 statement on academic freedom and tenure? At will employment and summary dismissal without cause or due process would rule the day. There would be hundreds of wildly different employment policies across the country, many of them concealed from the faculty. Take scores of AAUP policies off the books, eliminate our history of censuring rogue institutions, withdraw the legal briefs we have sponsored for dozens of court cases, cancel tens of thousands of academic freedom cases we have negotiated, erase our assistance to local chapters, and virtually all colleges and universities would be outlaw institutions.

We need the AAUP now more than ever. Perhaps it is time to ask not what the AAUP can do for you but what you can do for the AAUP today.