American Association of University Professors
Minutes of the spring meeting, April 21, 2001
The spring meeting was convened at 10:00 am at the University of Kansas (Lawrence) in the Kansas Union Pine Room. The expectation of a welcome address did not materialize, and so we proceeded with the featured speaker, Dr. Martin Snyder, who was introduced by the Conference President, Professor Elmer Hoyer. Dr. Snyder is the Associate Secretary for Academic Freedom and Professional Standards at the national office of the AAUP. His topic was "An Effective Faculty Handbook."
One key issue that arises regarding the usefulness and effectiveness of faculty handbooks pertains to their legal status? Are they binding legal documents? Dr. Snyder said that the legal status varies from state to state and courts tend to differ in determining whether and when faculty handbooks create binding contracts. They usually consider several factors in faculty hand-book cases, including: Is the handbook incorporated by reference in other documents? Does the handbook reflect current practices? Does it contain a conspicuous disclaimer? Are the handbook's provisions clear and internally consistent? Dr. Snyder discussed each of these points. There were a number of questions raised by attendees and a lively discussion ensued.
Dr. Snyder summarized by giving attendees a copy of an article written by AAUP Associate Counsel, Donna Euben. This summary/conclusion of Dr. Snyder's presentation is taken from said article. Since faculty handbook law is, at best, uneven, college and university faculties should monitor handbook developments on their campus by:
Developing and enforcing fair and equitable faculty handbooks requires the informed participation of faculty members. If those handbooks are enforceable as contracts, they can help to preserve and protect terms and conditions of faculty appointments, including academic freedom and tenure.
- Making available a current copy of the handbook and accompanying memoranda;
- Keeping familiar with the hand-book and its enforcement; and
- Reviewing proposed amendments to the handbook carefully, seeking to have any potential revisions comply with AAUP-supported policies.
After lunch the afternoon business meeting began with President Elmer Hoyer, presiding.
1) The minutes of the fall meeting (fall meeting, November 11, 2000) were distributed to all attendees. After briefly reviewing the minutes it was moved by Rob Catlett (ESU) that the minutes be approved as changed. The motion was seconded and it passed.
2) The treasurer's report was distributed to the members present. After a brief explanation by the treasurer, Bob Neufeld (McPherson) moved that the report be approved. The motion was seconded and it passed.
3) President Elmer Hoyer stated that he would like to discuss the Regional Workshop that was held in Kansas City in February, although it was not on the agenda. The change to the agenda was accepted by all present. He stated that the workshop was very successful in terms of attendance and by the value to those that attended. He mentioned that President Jane Buck's presentation at the workshop is on the Kansas Conference Website. Our conference was given financial assistance by National to help cover the expenses of those attending from the Conference. The next regional conference will held be during the month of October in Minnesota. President Hoyer also reported to the Conference that we had been approved for another 3 years to participate in comprehensive dues. Comprehensive dues is the collection of state dues by the national office which are then returned to the states on a quarterly basis.
4) Next on the agenda was the election of officers. It was agreed, as is often done, to elect a president-elect at a meeting next year in order to allow the new president to have more input on his assistant and next president of the Conference. Next was the election of the new Secretary Treasurer for the next two years. Dr. Rich Hughen (FHSU) was nominated for a second term by Rob Catlett (ESU) and it was seconded. There being no further nominations from the floor, it was moved by Ray Pierotti (KU) that Rich Hughen be elected by acclamation; it was seconded and the motion passed. Bob Neufeld (McPherson) offered words of thanks for the time, the effort and the two years of service by Elmer Hoyer as the President of the Conference. A round of applause was offered as a tribute to Elmer. We are pleased to announce that Elmer has agreed to continue as the webmaster for the Conference. Thanks Elmer.
5) The next item of business was campus reports. Several chapters reported on their activities.
6) The date of the fall meeting was tentatively set for Saturday, October 20 to be held at Kansas State University. Details will be arranged. The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 pm.
Rich Hughen (FHSU)