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Tenure and the College of Law

Dear Editor,

The presentations made by the administration of the University of La Verne on November 20, 2019, and the answers provided by the Provost to questions posed by the FAHC, reveal an alarming and unnecessary plan to abolish tenure as part of the creation of a Cal Bar-accredited program of legal education as the successor to the discontinued ABA-accredited program.

We regard the administration’s statements as a fundamental threat to the institution of tenure at the University of La Verne. The plans revealed by the administration are in square violation of protections contained in our Faculty Handbook, unanimously adopted by the Board of Trustees in October 2018 and reaffirmed in June-July, 2019. The statements and plans convey that the University regards persons awarded lifetime tenure as dispensable, and the Faculty Handbook and the commitment to tenure contained therein as meaningless. The administration proposes to replace tenured faculty, many of whom have been part of the ULV faculty for decades, with predominantly part-time instructors without access to the protections of tenure – despite the continuation of a program leading to the very same degree as that offered by the program in which those tenured faculty were awarded tenure and currently teach.

In light of these profoundly troubling developments, the Faculty Senate calls upon the University of La Verne Board of Trustees to

● publicly and unequivocally reaffirm its commitment to tenure at the University of La Verne as it is described in the Faculty Handbook; and

● clearly communicate to the administration and the University community that the Board will not accept or endorse any ABA teach-out or transition plan to a Cal Bar program that eliminates tenure.

Specifically, we ask that the Board reaffirm the following principles, policies, and procedures:

● That “The award of tenure…reflects the considered judgment of the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees that the faculty member is fully qualified to participate in teaching, scholarship, and service, including governance, for the remainder of that faculty member’s career” (4.3)

● That tenure is “indispensable to the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society” (3.2.1.1)

● That tenure “is awarded only to those persons of demonstrated achievements in recognition of outstanding contributions to the University or the profession and the capacity to make ongoing contributions” (3.2.1.1)

● That “Before terminating a tenured appointment on grounds of financial or program exigency/discontinuance, the University of La Verne…will make every effort in good faith to place the faculty member concerned in another suitable position within the University of La Verne” (4.5.3)

● That “The appointment of a faculty member with tenure shall not be terminated in favor of retaining a faculty member without tenure in the same program…or College, except in extraordinary circumstances where a serious distortion of the academic program would result” (4.5.2.3.a)

● That if termination of tenured appointments occurs, the University “will not at the same time make new appointments in any rank in the same program…or College” (except as above) (4.5.2.3.b)

● That if termination of tenured appointments occurs, “the place of the faculty member concerned will not be filled by one or more replacements with substantially identical teaching obligations” for three years (4.5.2.3.c)

Faculty Senate

 

Dear Editor,

As the University of La Verne Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, we advocate for core principles of academic freedom, shared governance, and tenure/security of employment.

We stand together as “One Faculty” in opposing all efforts 

• to attack and eliminate tenure and the tenured faculty, described in our own Faculty Handbook as “indispensable to the success of the institution in fulfilling its obligations to it students and to society”), especially as currently threatened at the College of Law; 

• to dishonor contracts made with full-time non-tenure-eligible faculty, and 

• to exploit, misclassify, and underpay the part-time non-tenure-eligible faculty (“adjuncts”), who deliver more than half of all units taught at the University of La Verne.

We call upon the administration and Board of Trustees of the University of La Verne, immediately and publicly

• to reaffirm the commitment to tenure as expressed in our Faculty Handbook;

• to pledge that no faculty member will involuntarily lose tenure without strict adherence to all Faculty Handbook procedures, including the University making every effort in good faith to reappoint faculty to other positions for which they are qualified or to obtain needed retraining to become qualified;

• to honor its multiyear contracts with full-time non-tenure-eligible faculty; and

• to commit the necessary resources to bring adjunct compensation into compliance with all applicable law, and to deal in good faith with adjunct representatives in determining fair, lawful, and adequate compensation.

Diane Klein
Professor of Law
President, University of La Verne Chapter, American Association of University Professors

 

Dear Editor,

It is the longstanding mission of the La Verne Academy to represent, promote and facilitate research, scholarship, and creative activity at the four Colleges of the University. This mission is dependent on academic freedom, which is itself dependent on protections afforded by tenure. In the face of the announced changes at the College of Law, we, the undersigned, hereby reaffirm our commitment to these values and urge the entirety of the faculty, administration and Board of Trustees at the University of La Verne to do the same. Tenure and academic freedom are two of the defining values of higher education in America, and we must speak with one voice in defending them.

The connection between tenure and academic freedom is so inextricable that the AAUP’s well-known “Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure” treats the two values simultaneously. The reason for this is self-evident. Tenure offers faculty the protection to pursue research, scholarship, and creative activity free from fear of reprisal or retribution.

The Faculty Handbook, the University’s governing document for faculty, explicitly affirms these principles in several places. For example:

• Section 3.2.1.1 refers to tenure as “indispensable to the success of an institution.”

• Section 4.3 describes tenure as a reflection of “the considered judgment of the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees that the faculty member is fully qualified to participate in teaching, scholarship, and service, including governance, for the remainder of that faculty member’s career.”

• Section 4.5.3 commits the University in cases of program discontinuance to make “every effort in good faith” to place tenured faculty “in another suitable position within the University of La Verne.” 

In order to honor these commitments to tenure and academic freedom, the University must accommodate the tenured faculty of the College of Law, whether it be in a position at a restructured College of Law or in one of the other Colleges. This means placing each tenured faculty member “in another suitable position if one can be found, even if this means displacing a nontenured instructor.” (Browzin v. Catholic University of America, D.C. Cir. 1975) Other than placing a tenured faculty member in a position for which they are not qualified, the University must do everything it can to safeguard the commitment it has made to each tenured faculty member “for the remainder of that faculty member’s career.”

There are other practical and moral arguments to be made in support of protecting both the tenured and untenured faculty at the College of Law. The La Verne Academy has chosen, however, to make a statement specifically on behalf of tenure and academic freedom because of the centrality of those values to the mission of the Academy. As one of the primary campus organizations dedicated to the support of research, scholarship, and creative activity, we urge the University community in the strongest terms to adhere to the commitments to tenure affirmed in the Faculty Handbook of the University of La Verne and in the AAUP’s statement on Tenure and Academic Freedom.

Members of the La Verne Academy:

Felicia Beardsley
Sean Bernard
Ngoc Bui
Charles Doskow
Glenn Gamst
Issam Ghazzawi
Reed Gratz
Jeffrey Kahan
Kenneth Marcus
Kevin Marshall
Jack Meek
Jason Neidleman
Deborah Olson
Ruth Trotter
Matthew Witt

 

CAPA Program

Dear Editor,

I moved into my dorm in the fall of 2010 as a traditional undergraduate. It was the first step in my grand plan to be out of college by the age of 22, own a house by 23, married by 24 and then have kids by 25.

It was an ambitious plan, and – spoiler alert – it didn’t exactly pan out the way I thought it would. Turns out I was much better suited to the 10-year program than I was the four-year one.

Anyone who has left school knows that coming back seems like a mountain you will never fully climb. Taking one or two classes a semester doesn’t move you closer to your goal the same way that an 18-unit semester does.

The CAPA program here at ULV is a major asset to anyone who can qualify for the program. All of the counselors there are enthusiastic about helping you, even when you come in four or five times a semester without an appointment like I did.

I was not a CAPA major, which means the bulk of my coursework was done through the traditional Communications Department, which has a policy that their publication staff avoid covering themselves unless it is a remarkable occasion.

Luckily, I’m not a staff member anymore, so I can talk about it as much as I want. And I will, because despite being built for traditional undergraduate students, I did not have a single professor throughout my entire run at ULV who was anything but understanding about me being an adult student.

I’m not saying I got away with deadlines, but if I had to miss class because work ran late, it was met with genuine empathy rather than concern for docking my attendance grade.

One of the biggest stressors for CAPA students (at least those I have met) is worrying about whether you’ve bitten off more than your can chew.

Having the support of your entire department, from a professor you only knew for a two-unit class all the way up to the department chair, makes getting that degree done in a record 10 years instead of an embarrassing, snail’s paced 11 much more feasible.

If you are a student who works full time or has a family to manage and you want a degree in communications, ULV might be just the place for you.

Christian Shepherd
Senior

 

Season of Giving

Dear Editor,

Every year around the holidays there are what I call “feel good” television news stories about people helping the homeless and disadvantage people in our society. Prominent people, like politicians and business owners, can be seen dishing up holiday dinners with all the fixings. Everyday citizens are seen donating much needed food and other items intended to help those who need it the most. Schools and businesses have canned food drives which are then donated to local food banks. In short, Americans rally together to help those less fortunate.

But to me, it’s not a “feel good” story at all. It is how we show our self-centeredness in our “look at me” society. You might as well get on social media and say, “Thinking about those less fortunate today.” It helps just as much – which is nothing.

Americans should be embarrassed when we honor people for “giving” around only the holidays. This is an entirely self-serving act intended to make the haves feel better about themselves and pretend they care about the have-nots. Aren’t poor people hungry in the spring? Don’t disadvantaged people need housing and clothing and food all year? Why does help come only around the holidays? Do people only eat two meals per year – one in November and one in December?

The people who really care are those on the front line every day helping those in need of help. Churches, nonprofits like the United Way, soup kitchen volunteers, mental health professionals, homeless advocates, and others selflessly providing real help to people in need every day of the year, every year. These people are the real heroes who should be on the news. But they do not seek, nor do they expect, recognition. They roll up their sleeves and do the work some of us do one day in November and one day in December, unless our sports team is on TV.

If you really want to do something to help, work at a soup kitchen one or two days per month, every month of the year. Join a volunteer group to reach out to people at a homeless camp at noon in the July heat. Attend city council or board of supervisor meetings and question what is being done to help the mentally ill and substance abusers in your city. Donate time or money to groups that help those needing help. Rather than pretending you care at Thanksgiving or Christmas you can show you really care by helping all year long.

Charity is important, and we are a giving nation. But disadvantaged people need our help every day of the year. We are a compassionate people and we do not want to see people suffer, and we should help in our own way every day. We should use the holidays to remind others that some people need help after the news story is over. Instead of getting on the news to show you are good person, use that time to advocate for year-round help. Roll up your sleeves and get to work! That is a way to show you care. That will make you a real hero.

Gregory Blevins
Doctoral Candidate in Public Administration

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One Response to Letters to the Editor

  1. Diane Klein December 6, 2019 at 6:29 pm #

    The AAUP Chapter Statement published here was endorsed by a majority of chapter members, along with over 100 other faculty members, approximately 95% of those who voted.

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