The following letter was sent on 7 December 2020 by St. Michael’s, Champlain, and Middlebury AAUPs in response to the cuts of more than two dozen programs and majors at the University of Vermont.
Dear Dr. Garimella, Provost Prelock, and Dean Falls,
We write on behalf of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) at St. Michael’s, Champlain and Middlebury Colleges regarding your recent decisions to eliminate more than two dozen academic programs. Although you have heard from a variety of people about the importance of the humanities to the central mission of academic institutions, we write with a different set of concerns: academic freedom and faculty governance.
As you know, nearly all U.S. academic institutions commit themselves to these core values and we believe the way in which these decisions were made was in potential violation of both and are asking the national AAUP to look into this.
We believe faculty governance was violated because there was no consultation with the representative faculty body, the Faculty Senate, nor with the faculty union, United Academics. This is particularly dangerous because it both creates an entirely new curricular landscape without faculty input and it potentially violates the principle of academic freedom.
As you know, these core principles to the AAUP mission have been in place for seventy years and they have protected academic disciplines from ideological attacks during the McCarthy years and also, more recently, during the Trump administration’s attack on critical race theory. When an administration decides to shut down academic programs without faculty consultation, they create space for such ideological attacks, attacks that are a threat to the very mission of knowledge production.
We urge you to consider staying your decision, returning to representative faculty bodies, and following the principles of faculty governance and academic freedom that are so very central to maintaining the truly unique tradition of higher education in the United States.
Laurie Essig, President, Middlebury AAUP
Genie Giaimo Secretary/Treasurer, Middlebury AAUP
Jamie McCallum, Vice President, Middlebury AAUP
M.J. Bosia, President, St. Michael’s College AAUP
Gary Scudder, President, Champlain College AAUP