The AAUP has reached its centennial year—a major achievement in the life cycle of a professional organization. Since its founding in 1915, the Association has sought to advance the core principles and values of the academic profession and to shape its governing standards and practices, with the goal of ensuring higher education’s contribution to the common good. While promoting, with remarkable success, the adoption of its recommended principles and standards, the Association has also monitored institutional compliance with them, investigated abuses, and published reports of its investigations.
I was privileged to take part in this work by serving for thirty-one years as a senior program officer in the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance. A historian by training (I currently hold an appointment as an adjunct professor of history at George Mason University), I was pleased to be asked to take on the task of editing a special issue of Academe commemorating the AAUP’s first hundred years.
What accounts for the persistent vitality of the AAUP’s founding principles and their continuing relevance to American higher education? Despite periods of relative inactivity, the Association has remained responsive to changes in the academic environment and in the nature of the professoriate. As a result, it has regularly developed new policies and standards to help the academic community confront the recurring threats to those core principles.
The articles in this centennial issue of Academe commemorate the AAUP’s admirable past. They describe some of the key areas—and ways—in which the AAUP has advanced standards for the academic profession.
Robert O’Neil’s opening article demonstrates the major role the AAUP has played in shaping the law of higher education.
Debra Nails describes the AAUP’s procedures for academic freedom and tenure investigations.
Jordan Kurland’s companion article comments on the most noteworthy investigations over the decades.
Ann Franke provides an overview of the AAUP’s century-long role in upholding and protecting the principles of academic freedom and tenure.
Larry Gerber’s article shows how the Association’s standards in the area of college and university government have established widely accepted norms of shared governance.
Ernst Benjamin recounts the AAUP’s initial embrace of and evolving emphasis on collective bargaining as a means of achieving the Association’s goals.
Finally, Mary Gray discusses the role played by the AAUP’s Committee on Women in the Academic Profession in developing policies relating to the status of academic women and in advancing the principles of equity and the rights of women faculty.
Periodically throughout its history, the AAUP has adjusted to financial and organizational challenges and weathered internal controversies. What lies ahead? As Franke concludes, “The continuing integrity of the Association’s positions and processes undergirds its moral authority. Only through even-handed application of its core principles will the Association retain its legitimate authority and advance its mission.” Here’s hoping that the AAUP will flourish in its second century and remain faithful to its core principles, thereby maintaining its well-deserved reputation as the authoritative voice of the academic profession.
— B. Robert Kreiser, Academe Guest Editor