A University of Northern Iowa faculty leader said she is saddened by an investigation of her school but heartened by the support shown by faculty peers around the country.
The American Association of University Professors notified UNI President Ben Allen that they had authorized launching an investigation following the approval of plans for severe academic cuts that may violate faculty rights.
"It is with mixed emotions (but with some relief)," Cathy DeSoto, United Faculty president, wrote in an email to colleagues, "that I inform you that the AAUP has authorized a formal investigation of UNI for various violations of accepted standards regarding tenure, academic freedom, due process and shared governance."
UNI spokesman Jim O'Connor said the university is working on a response to AAUP, and spokeswoman Stacey Christensen added in an email, "The word investigation is a strong word. We are in the process of responding as a university to their concerns. We are hopeful that some clarification and ongoing communication may satisfy their inquiry."
The AAUP investigation could lead to UNI's censure. Censure is essentially a red flag within the profession that the school does not meet standards of academic freedom and tenure.
Among the greatest concerns at UNI are plans for faculty buyouts, which were approved this month as a companion to sweeping academic cuts. According to the letter from AAUP director and associate secretary Gregory Scholtz to Allen, the AAUP is most troubled by plans to buyout 29 tenured professors.