Special Reports

AAUP Sanctions New College of Florida and Spartanburg Community College for Governance Issues


The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has announced sanctions against New College of Florida and Spartanburg Community College, citing significant concerns about the institutions' adherence to academic governance standards.

(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Upstateherd)

New College of Florida: Allegations of Political Influence

New College of Florida has come under scrutiny following a report released last year by a special AAUP committee investigating threats to academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance in Florida's public institutions. The report focused on actions taken by the college's board of trustees, particularly after Governor Ron DeSantis appointed six new trustees in January 2023.

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According to the AAUP, the appointed trustees prioritized political goals over the institution's best interests, leading to controversial decisions. These decisions include the removal of the diversity, equity, and inclusion office, the elimination of the gender studies program, and changes to tenure and admission standards without adequate faculty involvement.

The AAUP alleges that these actions have significantly undermined the collective and individual functions of the New College faculty, constituting one of the most egregious violations of AAUP principles and standards in recent memory.

Spartanburg Community College: Governance Challenges

At Spartanburg Community College, the AAUP's concerns revolve around governance issues related to the dissolution of the Faculty Senate. Provost Lisa Satterfield, who held the position of chief academic officer and vice president of academic affairs, announced the replacement of the Faculty Senate with an "Academic Council" through a facultywide email, just hours before a scheduled Faculty Senate meeting.

The AAUP's investigation found that the administration's decision to dissolve the Faculty Senate and establish the Academic Council significantly reduced faculty involvement in academic policy matters. With a majority of the Academic Council comprised of administrators, the AAUP argues that meaningful faculty participation in decision-making processes has been restricted.

Implications and Responses

The AAUP's decision to impose sanctions on New College of Florida and Spartanburg Community College carries significant implications. By publicly sanctioning these institutions, the AAUP aims to draw attention to concerns about academic governance and uphold standards of academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance.

In response to the sanctions, Spartanburg Community College has expressed its stance, stating that it does not recognize the authority of the AAUP. The college contends that academic governance at the institution remains robust following the establishment of the Academic Council.

These sanctions add New College of Florida and Spartanburg Community College to a list of institutions facing AAUP sanctions, underscoring ongoing challenges within higher education. As debates around academic governance continue, the AAUP's role in advocating for academic freedom and shared governance becomes increasingly crucial for maintaining the integrity and quality of higher education institutions.

The AAUP's decision to impose sanctions on New College of Florida and Spartanburg Community College reflects broader concerns about academic governance and the protection of academic freedom within higher education institutions. It signals a call to action for institutions to prioritize principles of academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance to ensure the preservation of scholarly integrity and intellectual inquiry.

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