Letter regarding the Violation of Academic Freedom at Brown University

February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023

Leah VanWey
Dean of the Faculty
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912

Dear Dean VanWey,

As the Executive Committee and Academic Freedom Committee of the Middlebury College AAUP, we are extremely concerned about the suspension of Professor Naoko Shibusawa for her article “Where is the Reciprocity? Notes on Solidarity from the Field.” Not only was this article clearly about Prof. Shibusawa’s expertise as a scholar and therefore covered under the principles of academic freedom to which Brown University has agreed to adhere, but the article was published in her field’s flagship journal, Asian American Studies.

The article in no way violates any codes of professional conduct nor does it break any rules of confidentiality. In fact, it is an important inquiry into why there is so little cooperation in academe among similarly marginalized forms of knowledge production.

We believe that Brown University’s sanctions on Professor Shibusawa are a clear infringement on her academic freedom.

We urge the Brown University administration to immediately lift its sanctions on Professor Shibusawa and restore her full faculty rights.

Signed on behalf of the AAUP Executive Committee and the Committee on Academic Freedom at Middlebury College,

Michael Olinick, Professor
Jamie McCallum, Associate Professor
Peter Matthews, Professor
Ioanna Uricaru, Associate Professor
Laurie Essig, Professor
Jamie McCallum, Associate Professor

Employees Deserve a Cost-of-Living Adjustment

September 29, 2022

Read our Campus Op-Ed here

AAUP Response to Wages at Middlebury College

June 28, 2022

June 28. 2022

Dear AAUP Members,

We’re outraged, but not surprised.

By now almost all faculty and staff have received their reappointment letters containing information on our FY23 salaries and wages. We’d like to offer a few reflections on what we know, have been hearing, and offer a way forward.

At our last faculty meeting in May, the AAUP successfully passed a sense of the faculty motion that urged the administration to give—at least—a 10 percent raise to all Middlebury faculty and staff. Such an increase would have brought all of us up to our 2019 rate of pay. Despite passing by an overwhelming majority of the faculty, the administration and the Board of Trustees pitted faculty and staff against each other, creating divisions where there should have been unity.

The result? All faculty received an increase, but 14 percent of staff received no raise at all. And many staff received only a discretionary increase, under 2%, based upon lobbying by their own immediate supervisors. (Remember that in 2020, when there was also no pay increase, select staff received a fifty-dollar check from the College, “a show of appreciation” for their hard work in tough times.)

Many staff and faculty received a pay cut in real wages even if they received an increase in absolute dollars because that increase was under 10%. Given inflation over the past three years, almost all of us are still making less in real wages than we were in 2019. In other words, the majority of our staff and faculty who worked through the pandemic have received a significant pay cut at the same time tuition increased by 10 percent and our endowment by a shocking 32 percent.

The wage and salary letters have generated significant confusion. The administration announced the faculty and staff salary pool increased by seven percent. Where did it go? We know that all ranks of faculty received less than a seven percent increase. Individual faculty who received a larger increase seem to have gotten it on the basis of their promotions, which typically come with standardized anticipated increases anyway. Does this add up to a general seven percent increase on average? We need a fuller explanation from the administration about how the money was actually distributed.

At a recent AAUP meeting, and in countless emails and conversations over the past few days, we’re hearing that Middlebury employees are fed up. They’re insulted by the pay cuts and tired of feeling like our voices and votes don’t matter. They fear that this unfair situation will persist, that their commitment to the College will never be rewarded, and are wondering how else to express their growing lack of confidence.

The 2022 State of the Faculty Report, released earlier this year, painted a dismal picture of the working life at Middlebury—only about 20 percent report being satisfied with the way things are going at the College and only one third are satisfied with their pay.

What can we do? Since the beginning of the pandemic, the AAUP has organized faculty and staff to support a campus climate that is safer and fairer. That work has been slow but steady. Despite our frustration with the austerity budgeting, we are confident that our pressure on the administration was at least partly responsible for whatever pay increases we did receive. Our members have at times been leaders within all elected committees on campus, including staff council, helping to raise our voice whenever possible. We will continue to organize for a budget that works for all of us, one that actually reflects the hard work and commitments of our faculty and staff.

Join us! The AAUP is open to all faculty and staff who want to speak with a larger collective voice. To join, and find out about our upcoming meetings, send an email to Professor Laurie Essig at lessig@middlebury.edu.

Together, we have the best chance of getting the jobs that we all deserve.


AAUP Executive Council

AAUP Sense of Faculty Motion on Cost of Living Adjustment

April 8, 2022

The following motion was approved by 87% of the Middlebury Faculty at a faculty meeting on April 8th.

“The faculty urge the administration to provide all employees with a cost-of-living adjustment to wages and salaries of no less than 10% this summer, thereby restoring the living standards of College employees to their 2019-20 level.”

Since the start of the 2019-20 academic year, consumer prices have risen by 11.3% while wages and salaries at the College have risen only 2%. In inflation-adjusted terms, our “real” wages and salaries have already fallen by 8.3% since 2019-2020 and are falling more by the month. Vermont is not immune to the national acceleration in inflation: home prices and rents are up considerably, prices of cars and other durable goods have surged, food prices are up, fuel and electricity prices have risen sharply, and local services like daycare have become more expensive—all of which erode the purchasing power of our stagnant wages and salaries. Inflation should not be eroding the purchasing power of employees’ wages and salaries, but the college is currently failing its employees on the imperative of cost-of-living adjustments—and our wages stagnate despite soaring endowment returns and significant tuition hikes.
Based on conservative inflation forecasts, it would take more than a 10% cost-of-living adjustment this summer just to restore real wages to where they were at the start of the 2019-20 academic year; anything less means our real wages have still fallen. If anything, a real wage increase is merited given the increased work, stress, and health risks faculty and staff have taken on since the start of the pandemic. Given that HR is in the process of reconfiguring staff compensation, we urge that the principle of a minimum of 10% increase nonetheless stands. At the very least we should not earn less for more work. And the College’s stated commitment to intergenerational equity is incompatible with the reality that our most junior colleagues have known nothing but declining living standards since coming to Middlebury
Failure to reverse course on these real wage cuts will continue to worsen staffing, retention, and morale problems on campus as well as jeopardize Middlebury’s status as a top-tier liberal arts college providing a stellar undergraduate experience. We cannot continue to provide the kind of education we aim for while our employees suffer declining living standards—a sustainable College is one where employees can expect their living standards to rise.

Middlebury AAUP in Solidarity with Oberlin AAUP

March 27, 2022

Published here

To the Oberlin College community,

Life at a small liberal arts college is often referred to as being “in the bubble,” as it is easy to lose touch with the larger world around you while you focus on the daily life and insular struggles within your community. Those local struggles can often feel detached from larger trends and forces as you focus on the specific people, policies, and debates that feel unique to your campus.

We write from Middlebury College, Vermont, where we have read about Oberlin’s recent struggles over employee wages and benefits, with a message from outside your bubble: you are not alone. While every college campus is unique, these struggles are not. Across the United States, colleges and universities have seen record gains in endowments coupled with salary freezes — which are effectively a pay cut when offset by inflation — benefit reductions, union-busting, and other means to leverage the COVID crisis to disempower employees and hoard institutional wealth, often in the name of unity or “shared sacrifice.” Administrators at such institutions like to tout “intergenerational equity” to justify limited draws on a booming endowment, yet such policies undervalue current employees and students in the name of future wealth, promoting a skewed version of intergenerational inequity.

Thankfully, you are also not alone in seeing faculty and staff stand up to these administrative maneuvers. We stand in solidarity with the Oberlin American Association of University Professors, which encouraged professors to cancel class to demand fair compensation. We stand in solidarity with Bates Educators and Staff Organization, who are trying to unionize Bates College staff and contingent faculty together over objections from the college administration. And we hope you stand in solidarity with Middlebury’s AAUP, working to advocate for fair employee compensation and truly equitable endowment policies. 

One of the core values of a liberal arts education is thinking across boundaries and drawing connections between separate realms of knowledge and experience. Thus we reach out across our institutional boundaries to share our experiences, knowledge, and advocacy, hoping that our peer colleges can all work together to ensure fair and equitable compensation for employees and provide the best possible educational experience for students.

In solidarity,

Jason Mittell, OC ’92, Professor of Film & Media Culture at Middlebury College on behalf of the following members of Middlebury College AAUP

Laurie Essig, Professor of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies

Amy Holbrook, Academic Coordinator of Economics

Peter Matthews, Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics

Jamie McCallum, Associate Professor of Sociology

AAUP Sense of Faculty Motion on Covid Safety and Testing

December 15, 2021

This sense of faculty motion was passed with a 75% vote at the faculty meeting on December 13th, 2021.

“The faculty urge the administration to reinstitute Spring 2021 COVID testing protocols for the remainder of the 2021-22 academic year, including entry testing for all students after breaks, and ongoing surveillance testing for all students and employees working on-campus.”

The events at the end of the Fall 2021 semester make it very clear that vaccines and a masking policy are not enough to mitigate the presence and threat of COVID-19 on Middlebury’s campus. Bringing thousands of students back to campus without mandatory entry and surveillance testing in 2022 risks another outbreak at worse, and widespread uncertainty and anxiety at best. We have a proven record of being able to support effective testing for students and faculty from the 2020-21 year; returning to these earlier protocols as the pandemic continues to disrupt our health and safety is the best way to protect our community and avoid major disruptions to our educational mission. It is vital that this testing protocol includes employees working on-campus, as the local testing resources are overburdened with limited availability that is particularly inconvenient to many staff members’ work schedules.
The events of the last week have proven that it is better to know the status of the virus on campus than to limit our knowledge. Following the lead of every single one of our peer colleges by using entry and surveillance testing of the entire community is the prudent and responsible way to keep us all safe and focused on educating students.
Presented by Jason Mittell on behalf of members of the AAUP Executive Committee and Working Conditions Committee:
James Berg
Laurie Essig
Peter Matthews
Jamie McCallum
David Miranda Hardy
Michael Olinickk

Statement on Middlebury End-of-Year Bonus and Fair Wages

November 19, 2021

“The AAUP welcomes the bonus, an acknowledgement of the extraordinary efforts of so many faculty and staff to provide students a world-class education even in the midst of the pandemic. We nevertheless remain concerned that these same faculty and staff have experienced significant declines in inflation-adjusted income over the previous two years. In other words, nearly all employees now make significantly less, despite the bonus and a 2% raise.  That means, given current inflation rates, it will require substantial increases in compensation this year and beyond to preserve, let alone increase, the living standards of employees.  We therefore continue to look forward to working with the administration to identify responsible ways to build a rewarding and equitable future for all members of the Middlebury community.”

Second meeting of the AAUP Fall 2021

November 3, 2021

November 19th 4pm

There we will discuss 

  1. Working conditions for employees during this 4th Pandemic Semester
  2. The continuing fight for fair wages with a report from our Budget Committee
  3. The formation of a new Committee on Academic Freedom (we are looking for volunteers for this)
  4. And in break out sessions we will find out what else is important to you, our members

Topic:  AAUP MeetingTime: Nov 19, 2021 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://middlebury.zoom.us/j/97288571101?pwd=TnRyWS9NeGRTa0NrZFhYcVZFTXVWUT09   

Password: AAUP

Or iPhone one-tap :    US: +16468769923,,97288571101#  or +13017158592,,97288571101# Or Telephone:    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):         US: +1 646 876 9923  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 669 900 6833  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799     Meeting ID: 972 8857 1101    Password: 394239    International numbers available: https://middlebury.zoom.us/u/ajBgQtyKC
Or an H.323/SIP room system:    See here for info: http://go.middlebury.edu/zoomconnect    If meeting is password protected, use the numeric password in the telephone join section of the invitation for H.323 & SIP connections

First meeting of the 2021 Fall Semester September 24th at 3pm

September 7, 2021

Please come discuss the issues we are working on and the issues you’d like to pursue this year as employees of Middlebury College. Faculty and staff are all welcome. One major issue is that we are all earning less money than before the Pandemic even though we’re working more. Check out the graphic above and see you on the 24th.

Topic: AAUP Meeting
Time: Sep 24, 2021 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://middlebury.zoom.us/j/94405894819?pwd=UjVjZjNvTHRGNnZ2ekpRSEllQTBjZz09
Password: AAUP

Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16468769923,,94405894819# or +13017158592,,94405894819#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799
Meeting ID: 944 0589 4819
Password: 230160
International numbers available: https://middlebury.zoom.us/u/adLxUJB4Pg

Or an H.323/SIP room system:
See here for info: http://go.middlebury.edu/zoomconnect
If meeting is password protected, use the numeric password in the telephone join section of the invitation for H.323 & SIP connections

Sense of Faculty Motion June 2020

May 26, 2021

The Middlebury College Faculty believes our core values must drive our budgetary principles. We cannot abandon the values we demonstrate in good times because these are now temporarily more expensive. We are committed to a vibrant liberal arts education and endorse policies that call for flexible allocation of resources allowing us to provide the best possible education consistent with the health and safety our community. To that end, we urgently recommend that any shortfalls in revenues for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year be met with means avoiding further cuts in compensation for employees, furloughs, or layoffs.
We should address lost revenues with an endowment draw reflecting the severity of the crisis. Deferred maintenance, operating cuts for events and travel due to pared down activities during a pandemic, and less aggressive debt retirement are additional ways to avoid cuts that prioritize people over buildings.
The college must not use the crisis to engage in financial opportunism. The pandemic should not be exploited to impose future cuts in compensation, permanent cuts to retirement, or to redeem the sins of previous administrations.
Any cuts to compensation that do occur must be progressive, with substantial “marginal tax rates” on the institution’s highest earners. They must also be deferred cuts, with explicit guidelines to restore them in the near future.
A once in a century public health crisis demands a once in a century policy that does not require the current generation of students, staff and faculty to bear even more of the burden they have already carried and will certainly bear in the coming months. Employees have already taken a significant cut in compensation for next year, as the projected budget eliminates a planned 3 to 3.5% salary increase, for example, even as staff and faculty will be working extra hard to make the 2020-21 academic year safe and effective for our students and community.
Over the course of more than two centuries, Middlebury College has been a vital contributor to the higher education community as well as the state of Vermont. We must maintain our commitments to excellent teaching and scholarship, and to responsible citizenship as Addison County’s top employer.