In your story about LSU being censured by the national Association of University Professors,” June 17, the UL system president is dismissive of the censure of Louisiana universities by the American Association of University Professors. With his less-than-modest credentials in higher education, one would have at least expected some humility in brushing off what has been for a century the defining national organization of university faculty.
The AAUP has 48,000 faculty members, from big and small universities, public and private, with many from the top ranks. Its enunciation of principles and its defense of academic freedom, going back to 1915, have come to define higher education, not just in the United States but in many other nations. Even high courts have cited them in judicial decisions.
The unanimous vote for censure by such a group, along with the earlier statement by its general secretary: “Louisiana is only one of 50 states and not one of the biggest, but we’re getting far more work from the state of Louisiana than we ought to be getting. ... It’s approaching the ridiculous,” should lead to soul-searching, not just taking comfort in that accreditation agencies have not moved against us. Not yet. Continued abuse of academic freedom, faculty governance and tenure, defining them as we please here in Louisiana, will not fool these agencies as well.
Censure by the AAUP is not to be treated lightly. It damages our ability to attract or retain good faculty and students. Without them, all the pablum that the state will retain its best students and prosper in a knowledge economy are just empty words.
The continued regressive policies and remarks of “leaders” is astonishing and discouraging. Former state Rep. Vic Stelly, of the plan that was voted in by the people but overthrown in part by this governor and the Legislature, recently resigned from the Board of Regents, speaking out against what is happening to education and our state.
Our governor and legislators wrap themselves in false populist cloaks, that of parents and the poor as they savage public schools and teachers, or of religion as they run down science and expertise. When a high school kid lined up over 40 Nobel Prize winners on the issue of the scientific theory of evolution, they dismiss that to follow the Family Forum or Discovery Institute, as if these speak for science. But all this is but a cloak to hide the real agenda of diverting tax monies into private hands under vouchers and tax subsidies.
They show neither intelligence nor good design in their own policies or ideas for the state. Instead, there is a steady downward evolution of our schools, universities and the state.