Update on CAU Faculty Layoffs

As the 2008-2009 academic year draws to a close, I have a couple of updates on the mid-semester faculty layoffs at Clark-Atlanta University (CAU) (see my previous blogs on this topic, about what happened with my wife, and the AAUP’s March 6 letter to President Carlton Brown.

A number of the laid-off faculty, including my wife, filed grievances according to the procedures outlined in the CAU Faculty Handbook. The first step in the grievance procedure is an informal mediation. In the absence of any substantive response or input from the administration, the faculty grievance committee found that the faculty had been laid off without justification, and notified the administration that it would proceed to formal hearings.

Meanwhile, the administration did respond to AAUP’s March 6 letter, and the AAUP found the response deficient in several aspects:
1) no explanation of why mid-semester layoffs were necessary, with no process for easing the transition;
2) no explanation of how a decline in enrollment from 4300 students in the fall to 4100 students in the spring constitutes an “enrollment emergency” – in fact, this fall-to-spring decline is no greater than normally experienced in previous years;
3) the administration’s justification for the sudden layoffs appear to better fit the criteria for a fiscal exigency, although CAU has gone out of its way to deny a state of fiscal exigency;
4) only a committee of 5 administrators made the personnel decisions, of which 3 were relatively inexperienced;
5) specific examples of laid-off faculty appear to belie the administration’s claim that the quality of student learning will not suffer;
6) finally, lack of due process, including a lack of an appeals process.
The AAUP’s second letter to President Carlton Brown is reproduced here in full, with the permission of Bob Kreiser of the AAUP:

The laid-off faculty are in the process of organizing and consulting with attorneys both individually and collectively. They have the support of the CAU Faculty Assembly. They deserve the support of university faculty everywhere, because what CAU has done violates faculty rights and privileges, vitiates tenure of all meaning, and annihilates due process in academic personnel decisions. Carlton Brown, in this interview, says his among his major goals are “to begin to move collectively toward true community” and for CAU to become a “big-time research institution”. No explanation of how assaulting faculty rights will help to achieve either of these goals.


About jchoigt

I'm an Associate Professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech, and Faculty Coordinator of the Professional MS Bioinformatics degree program.
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