National higher education. organization of the faculty “keenly interested” in the alleged violations of academic freedom of TMCC

The American Association of University Teachers (AAUP) today issued an advisory letter saying the reasons Truckee Meadows Community College attempted to fire Professor Lars Jensen are violations of academic freedom.

It is the third national organization to weigh in on TMCC’s attempt to fire Jensen for alleged insubordination.

Nevada higher education system attorney John Albrecht, right, hears testimony from a dean at Truckee Meadows Community College, left, about faculty member Lars Jensen. TMCC wants Jensen fired for insubordination. Image: Bob Conrad / This Is Reno, October 1, 2021.

Two deans testified at the first hearing that Jensen had not done what they wanted him to do, and he “disturbed an official. [Nevada System of Higher Education] event ”by handing out a handout with his opinion on the proposed changes to the college math curriculum.

TMCC Dean Anne Flesher said: “Dr. Jensen has exhibited a constant defiant and disrespectful behavior by refusing to follow repeated directions and failing to respond to the Dean’s requests in a timely manner. .

One of those guidelines was related to Jensen’s rating policy.

AAUP’s Mark Criley said grading is the responsibility of the professor, not the deans or administrators.

“The AAUP has long maintained that academic freedom protects the right of instructors to establish course policies and to assign grades based on [to] their own professional judgment, provided they comply with institutional regulations and professional ethics, ”he said.

“However, the professional judgment of a faculty member in these areas is not subordinate to that of its president, dean or other administrative officer,” he added. “It would therefore be absurd to regard a faculty member as insubordinate for declining such a request. “

Criley also said insubordination as a reason for firing a full faculty member is suspect.

“The AAUP has long contested the desirability of insubordination as a reason for dismissal,” he said. “When the Association’s investigative committees (too often) met him, their members wondered how a general requirement of subordination to authority can be reconciled with the responsibility of the faculty, under the principles of academic freedom, to seek the truth wherever it may lead and to express opinions concerning the institutional governance of educational policy which may diverge from those of the administration and the governing board.

The AAUP, he said, will follow the case “given the apparent centrality of academic freedom issues …”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also said Jensen’s free speech rights were being violated, and the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) also wrote a letter today on behalf of Jensen.

“We call on the college to end its lawsuits against him,” wrote Keith Whittington of the AFA. “The disciplinary hearings raise serious concerns against Professor Jensen who is the subject of reprisals for his constitutionally protected criticism of the college administration and his efforts to communicate his concerns about the academic functioning of the college to his colleague and to others. other interested parties. “

TMCC spokesperson Kate Kirkpatrick said this week: “At TMCC, academic freedom and faculty rights are highly valued and recognized as an integral part of the organization of our college.

TMCC also said it couldn’t comment on personnel matters, but President Karin Hilgersom tried to distance himself during a recent faculty meeting from the Cardoza and Jensen cases.

She said the This Is Reno report was part of a “disinformation campaign”. Inside Higher Ed also reported that TMCC was trying to fire Jensen.

The public invited to attend tomorrow’s hearing

TMCC is holding its second of two hearings tomorrow to fire Jensen. Jensen has invited people to attend the hearing in TMCC’s Red Mountain Building, Room 256 at 8 a.m.

“People [and] media who called TMCC for information were told they needed a personal invitation from me to attend, ”he wrote in an email to TMCC faculty. “In addition, TMCC declined to provide information on the location of the hearing to TMCC.

“It is unfortunate, because TMCC knows that the hearing is public, and that no special invitation from me is necessary.”

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