ST. BONAVENTURE — Members of the American Association of University Professors voted unanimously this past weekend to remove St. Bonaventure University from its censure list.
The university’s censure stemmed from the administration’s termination of 18 tenured professors during a period of financial exigency that began in 1993. St. Bonaventure had been on the list for 17 years.
The AAUP voted to remove St. Bonaventure from the censure list after the university completed a lengthy process to amend procedures to be followed should such circumstances ever arise again.
The university’s Board of Trustees and faculty agreed to establish a special assignment of trustee participants so that the Handbook Committee could expedite its work. A two-year study of the Faculty Handbook resulted in the needed changes.
Votes by trustees, faculty and members of the local chapter of the AAUP all confirmed the amendments. Finally, two representatives of the national AAUP organization visited the campus to conclude the review.
During the past decade, provosts Skip Saal and Michael Fischer promoted pursuit of this goal. Affirmations of academic freedom were approved by the board and a study of university governance that was completed in 2003 helped establish more awareness of shared governance responsibilities between the board, administration and faculty.
Both Jack McGinley and Ray Dee, who served as board chairs during this period, met frequently with faculty leaders on a variety of issues.
“Relationships between faculty and the Board of Trustees have improved dramatically,” said Dr. Steven Nuttall, associate professor of philosophy at SBU, who was also present at the AAUP annual meeting in 1996 when St. Bonaventure was censured. The rebuke by the association was effective in this case, he said.
Sister Margaret Carney, university president, said, “We are happy to have completed this task and I thank all who gave outstanding service on the Handbook Committee. We have been eager to see this day for a long time. The censure was a black eye. The current faculty and administration want to function at a ‘best practice’ level and the AAUP sees and affirms that by their vote.”