American Association of University Professors
University of Delaware Chapter

301 McDowell Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE  19716
Phone: 302-831-2292; Fax: 302-831-4119; E-mail:

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March 2005 aaUPBEAT

What You Need To Know
Just Cause and Union Finances

Introduction: UD Termination Policy

The policy which governs termination of tenured faculty at the University of Delaware is specified in the Faculty Handbook and can be accessed online. This policy, which was established and placed in the Faculty Handbook in 1993, is well developed — as far as it goes. However, it provides no role for the AAUP at any level of the termination hearings. Consequently, a faculty member who is the subject of termination proceedings is not protected by the AAUP.

In defining tenured faculty termination, existing policy states that a termination case begins when "an appropriate administrator sends a faculty member a letter of intent to terminate for one of the causes enumerated in the Faculty Handbook, III, N (incompetence, gross irresponsibility, or moral turpitude)." Additionally, the policy distinguishes between a "termination case" and a "grievance case," and specifically states that a termination proceeding is not the same as a grievance action which is handled in a separate manner, according to the grievance procedure as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The above is only the briefest summary of UD's termination policy, which is fourteen pages long. The full policy elaborates a host of due process rights and features. These include (1) the faculty member's right to refuse a hearing, (2) the fact that the burden of proof is on the Administration, not the faculty member, during the case, and (3) the faculty member's right to be represented by an advisor, including an attorney. Also, the policy sets forth stringent procedures that must be followed by the Senate Committee on Welfare and Privileges, which is the committee before which the termination proceedings occur, although the committee does not make the final decision regarding termination. Instead, the committee is obligated to "provide a copy of its opinion to the Provost and to each party."

The Provost is the ultimate authority in determining whether a faculty member should or should not be terminated. Although the committee's recommendation can be appealed to the Provost by either the faculty member under scrutiny or the administrator who has brought charges against him/her, once the Provost makes a decision, the decision is final. No further appeal or any other challenge can be made at this point. If the decision is to terminate, the faculty member is relieved of his/her duties.

In cases where the Provost has initiated the proceedings against the faculty member, if the Senate Committee on Welfare and Privileges concludes that the faculty member should be terminated, no further appeal can be made and the faculty member is relieved of her/his duties. On the other hand, if in such a case the Senate Committee on Welfare and Privileges concludes that the Provost's rationale for termination is not correct, the Provost has the final say. The committee's role is advisory and without power to veto or modify the Provost's decision.

A Problem and a Solution

As the above summary makes clear, UD termination policy is insulated from protections that would inevitably result from AAUP oversight. Instead, the AAUP has no presence at the hearings and no right to grieve an unjust termination. Should the Administration terminate a tenured faculty member, the AAUP is kept virtually powerless, thereby denying faculty members access to AAUP protection precisely when they need it most.

No wonder an overwhelming majority (about 90%) of faculty members who answered the AAUP survey on collective bargaining issues supported inclusion of a "just cause" provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. They recognize that the central role played by the AAUP in protecting faculty rights should be extended to this most fundamental of all conditions of employment: job security and freedom from unjust accusations or excessive disciplinary measures. The members of both the Executive Council and the Steering Committee strongly support faculty concerns regarding this matter. For this reason, the Bargaining Team has presented a "just cause" provision to the Administration at the bargaining table.

Just Cause - Why We Need It

Just cause provisions serve at least three fundamental purposes: (1) they maximize faculty security by formalizing the union's role in protecting faculty from unjust termination proceedings, (2), they guarantee that the termination process for tenured faculty meet the criteria established by University policies and existing law and (3) they provide legally binding language that protects faculty against the use of a termination process for the purpose of restricting or in any other way violating academic freedom.

Given this background, it is clear that the absence of a just cause provision in UD's AAUP-Administration contract is a shortcoming in need of rectification. As long as the union is marginalized in terms of termination policy, faculty are denied full protection.

This is why it is important to look at other institutions' faculties to see how they have handled similar dilemmas. The University of Vermont and branches of the Michigan system, for instance, have just cause provisions for the reasons discussed above. Other institutions, like Rutgers University, outdo UD by having more detailed protection language in their collective bargaining agreements than we do here.

A fully developed just cause provision makes termination a grievable issue, thereby maximizing the union's power to protect faculty. Anyone who doubts the need to do this underestimates the degree to which termination criteria can be ambiguous and therefore subject to administrative misinterpretation, abuse, or misapplication due to ignorance of the law. To adequately offset such potential problems, it is not sufficient to establish a faculty committee that possesses only advisory status. What is necessary, instead, is defining the termination process in such a way that the faculty, through the AAUP, possess the actual power to counter, and rectify when necessary, Administration mistakes or abuses.

Faculty should not fall into the trap of thinking "such things don't happen here." As recently as 2002, a part-time instructor in the English Department was suspended without due process because a student's parent complained that the faculty member had responded rudely to an email from the student pertaining to a class. Although, as the result of strong AAUP action, the Administration eventually reversed its decision and agreed to provide back pay, the Administration's initial impulse to suspend without due process stands as a reminder of the dangers of the Administration's unchecked power to suspend or dismiss.

Given the current political climate, with its attempts to pressure higher education into adopting a more consumerist and less Socratic approach to education, it is a practical matter to make sure that academic freedom protections are in place.

AAUP Finances

"A strong surplus and low dues!"

Over the past ten years, the AAUP has accumulated considerable cash balances. This accumulation is the result of prudent investment decisions, careful management, and an effort to keep costs low. The AAUP is largely run by the officers who contribute their services and work with relatively little in the way of paid support.

The AAUP's cash reserves are an important source of our chapter's strength:

  • The money earned on reserves helps to keep dues low. At UD, an AAUP member's local dues and national dues combined ($130 local + $143 national = $273) are lower than the local dues alone at many other comparable institutions. For instance, at Rutgers the combined local and national dues is 0.65% of salary, which means faculty members will pay from $325-$650 as salary ranges from $50,000 to $100,000. At New Hampshire local and national dues amounts to 0.5% of salary — which for most faculty will be more than what UD faculty pay.
  • Our cash reserves insure that the AAUP can cover the cost of whatever legal or other actions might arise during contract negotiations.
  • Our cash reserves enable us to support legal challenges and/or file grievances to protect faculty rights and to guarantee correct implementation of the collective bargaining agreement.
  • We have used our resources to support academic freedom and legal challenges to the chapter.
  • We employ an office manager and fund publication of a monthly union newsletter.
  • We recently hired a consultant to update and expand our website.
  • We recently increased our undergraduate student awards from $1000 to $2000.

Treasurer's Report

December 31, 2004

The following were the un-audited cash receipts and disbursements for the University of Delaware Chapter of the AAUP for the year ending December 31, 2004.

Beginning Cash Balance: $302,859

Item Amount
Dues Income $ 129,947
Interest/Investment Income $ 10,262
Total Receipts $ 140,209
Item Amount
Dues Paid to National AAUP $ 62,744
Office Staff $ 22,550
Legal and Accounting $ 2,953
Postage and Supplies $ 74
Consulting $ 179
Newsletter (outside editorial) $ 9,150
Newsletter (printing) $ 6,513
Dues and Subscriptions $ 83
National AAUP Conferences & Meetings $ 1,879
Printing (non-newsletter) $ 437
Bank Charges $ 340
Insurance $ 4,497
Release Time $ 0
Office Supplies/Expenses $ 2,454
Repairs & Maintenance $ 0
Donations $ 1,500
Seminars $ 200
Student Awards $ 4,000
Miscellaneous Credits $ (1,640)
Total Disbursements $ 117,913

Ending Cash Balance: $345,038
Net gain (loss): $ 42,179

Anyone wishing more information, please call the AAUP office at 831-2292.

Sheldon D. Pollack, Treasurer

Note to Non-AAUP Members

Although you are not currently an AAUP member, the AAUP represents you in the current contract negotiations with the Administration. This means that all salary, benefits, and academic freedom improvements which are won during negotiations will be improvements for you as well as for the union's members.

But why sit back and continue to be a non-member when, by the mere act of joining the AAUP, you can help us to win even better improvements than we might otherwise win? "How can this be so?" you might ask. Well, the answer is simple: the bargaining team's greatest negotiating strength is the number of AAUP members that stands behind the team as we try to improve the faculty's conditions of employment.

The bigger and more active we are, the more power we have; it is as clear-cut as that.

Therefore, join the AAUP and show your support for a cost of living adjustment, enhanced medical benefits, and a just cause contract provision to protect faculty employment.

Fill out the dues deduction card NOW and send it to the AAUP office!