by AAUP National
September 29, 2021
The American Association of University Professors has launched a special committee to prepare a report on a pattern of egregious violations of principles of academic governance and persistent structural racism in the University of North Carolina System. Among several issues the report will discuss is the widely publicized mishandling of the tenure case of New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, whose work on the groundbreaking 1619 Project has become a trigger for highly politicized debates about US history, race, and slavery, and an impetus for state-level legislative interference in the teaching of the role of racism in US history and society.
The special committee will also consider the influence of the gerrymandered state legislature on the systemwide board of governors and campus boards of trustees and look at how the use of political pressure has obstructed meaningful faculty participation in the UNC system.
Since 1950, AAUP has published special committee reports on a wide range of issues affecting the higher education community and society at large. Among the most notable are Academic Freedom and Tenure in the Quest for National Security (1956), which reviewed dismissals of faculty members during the McCarthy Era on grounds of suspected or open membership in the Communist Party; Academic Freedom in Mississippi (1965), a wide-ranging report on conditions for academic freedom in Mississippi and its institutions of higher education in relation to segregation and efforts to abolish it; and Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis (2003), which assessed the risks to academic freedom and free inquiry posed by the US response to the September 11, 2001, attacks.