President’s letter of Aug 16, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

Loyola’s chapter of the AAUP welcomes you back for the start of a new school year.

The new year gives us much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. It is also an occasion to reflect on the year concluded, which was in many respects a challenging one for the educational and social justice mission of our university and for principles of shared governance and academic freedom. The Spring semester of 2019 saw a strike by graduate student teachers seeking union recognition; challenges to academic freedom in the form of a restrictive media policy that brought national condemnation and a new speakers’ contract (both policies were rapidly withdrawn); the unilateral decision by President Jo Ann Rooney to create a consolidated Provost position that will oversee both medical and academic operations; massive cuts of the English Language Learner Program (ELLP); concerns about the administration’s handling of numerous retaliation and harassment complaints in the Institute of Pastoral Studies; and a nearly complete closure of the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA).

Early this summer the outgoing officers of the AAUP communicated our chapter’s concerns to the Board of Trustees and conveyed our grave doubts about Dr. Rooney’s leadership as Loyola’s President. Even this effort at communication was stymied, however. Loyola’s administration no longer reports the current membership of our Board of Trustees. (Outdated records may be found in documents filed with the IRS.) The Phoenix reported on our letter and the response to it from the Chair of the Board. Our letter also received a reply from Senior Vice President Wayne Magdziarz, who wrote to the Phoenix defending the content and unilateralism of President Rooney’s leadership. The AAUP’s outgoing Appeals Advocate, Prof. Pamela Caughie, responded to him.

One of the points made in the AAUP letter to the Board concerned fundraising, or rather the lack of it.  A 2018 report from Moody’s Investor Service ranked Loyola highly for financial management and cash on hand, but noted “Fundraising lower than peers.” That negative judgement was offset by Moody’s expectation that Loyola would “launch … a campaign for its sesquicentennial campaign in 2020,” but President Rooney has indicated to the Faculty Senate that there will be no such campaign.

The same Moody’s report affirmed that “a critical strategic initiative is the expansion of [Loyola’s] existing global footprint through growing study abroad and international students.” Disbanding ELLP and reductions to our roles in the Beijing and Rome Centers[CI1]  hardly seem consistent with that “critical strategic initiative.” This coming year we will try to document the fiscal and educational impact of the drastic cuts to ELLP.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in July that Loyola is one of the universities that spends the smallest portion of tuition and fees on actual instruction. This coming year, we will seek to unpack this figure and learn why spending at Loyola is skewed away from instruction. Loyola’s debt weighs heavily here. We will also inquire whether administrative operations have grown at the expense of academic programs in recent years. Loyola’s AAUP officers are concerned that the academic cuts made under Rooney are greater in scope, and more deleterious to our core educational mission, than most of us have recognized.  Some sense of the educational and pedagogic losses can be gleaned from the attached description by Professor Marilyn Dunn of LUMA’s operations and the thwarting of an effort to bring the museum under the umbrella of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The country and the world are in need of the kinds of liberal education offered at Loyola.  As Wesleyan University President Michael Roth put it in the wake of the terrorist murders in El Paso, we need “civic institutions that respect the diversity of our country and protect its most vulnerable inhabitants . . . [colleges and universities] must promote civic preparedness so that our students can learn from those with a variety of political, moral and aesthetic views without this openness compromising their abilities to fight fascism when it rears its ugly head.”

How well is Loyola fulfilling this mission?  We hope that in the coming year all of our colleagues, from tenured full professors to graduate instructors, will help form and participate in our efforts to protect Loyola’s educational mission and ensure that its leadership lives up to our professed values.  The first faculty meetings sponsored by the AAUP will take place as follows, with locations to be announced soon:

Lake Shore Campus: Thursday, September 12 at 3:00.

Water Tower Campus:  Wednesday, September 18 at 3:00.

 

Sincerely,

Benjamin Johnson, Department of History and Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Ian Cornelius, Department of English

 

 

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