Announcement of Chapter Formation

aaup

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF                                                                                       

ALBANY LAW SCHOOL CHAPTER

UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS                                                                                                               alsaaup@gmail.com

 

                             

To:      Penny Andrews, President and Dean, Albany Law School

Dan Nolan, Chair, Albany Law School Board of Trustees

Cc:       Faculty and Staff, Albany Law School

Members of the Albany Law School Board of Trustees

Jules L. Smith, Blitman and King LLP

 

From:   Albany Law School Chapter of the AAUP

 

Date:    November 26, 2013

 

 

With great enthusiasm, we are writing to announce the formation of the Albany Law School Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Like other members of the Albany Law School community, we share a strong commitment to our students and alumni, and we have great affection for and pride in the school.  Our expectation is that with the resources made available to us through the national AAUP, we can use our accumulated expertise in legal education to ensure the continued success of the law school.  We hope that all members of the Albany Law School community will work together so that the law school can continue to deliver a comprehensive and innovative legal education that prepares its students to thrive in a rapidly evolving legal environment. The Chapter is comprised of both tenured and untenured faculty members who have gathered together to protect and improve their terms and conditions of employment, including those outlined in the Albany Law School Faculty Handbook, the ABA and AALS standards, and the principles and procedures of the AAUP; these interests are also protected under the laws of the United States and the State of New York. We encourage those of our colleagues who are not yet members of the AAUP to join and become active members of our chapter. www.aaup.org/membership/join.

 

The faculty and staff of the law school have a rich history of providing rigorous and supportive academic training that has nurtured students and produced successful alumni.  We feel fortunate to have been a part of this educational mission. We believe, however, that proposals currently being considered by the administration and Board of Trustees pose a potential threat not only to the school’s ability to deliver the indispensable components of a sound legal education, but also adversely affect the terms and conditions of employment of the faculty.  We have been told that these proposals include termination of positions, which we believe will result in a reduction in the educational opportunities and a diminishment of the quality of legal education that our students deserve. Such terminations, of course, adversely affect our terms and conditions of employment.

 

Financial concerns are cited among the reasons for this departure from Albany Law School’s long-standing commitment to retaining employees who support the law school through their loyal service. As members of the law school community who collectively share hundreds of years of dedication to Albany Law School, members of the AAUP Chapter care about its financial health, which we recognize as essential to its stability and the furtherance of its mission.  Consequently, we are gratified that the AAUP’s independent analysis of the latest public information concerning our finances shows that Albany Law School is currently in sound financial condition.  If the Board disagrees with this assessment, it should invite the faculty, through its elected representatives on the Long-Range Planning Committee and/or the Budget Committee (or another committee chosen by the faculty for this purpose), to participate in all deliberations concerning the law school’s financial condition. We believe that the faculty is entitled to so participate according to the faculty handbook as adopted by the Board.

 

The faculty is ready and willing to work with the Board and administration to develop a reasonable plan to address any legitimate financial questions without resorting to terminations. There has already been substantial attrition of the faculty and staff and more can be expected. At a time when our bar-passage rate is a matter of real concern, weakening our faculty-student ratio and reducing our curricular options simply do not make sense.  We look forward to working collaboratively with the Board and administration to address our challenges and preserve our proud history.

 

We are enclosing a copy of the advisory letter from AAUP President Fichtenbaum regarding the academic freedom, tenure, contract rights, and governance issues raised by the Board’s and administration’s plans to terminate faculty appointments for financial reasons. These provisions must be read in light of ABA accreditation standards defining the rights of tenured, tenure-track, and long-term contract faculty members. Attached is a copy of the advisory letter with supporting documents. Inquiries may be directed to alsaaup@gmail.com.

 

Professor Donna Young, President

Professor Dale Moore, Vice President

Professor Nancy Ota, Secretary 

Professor Emeritus Harold Dubroff, Treasurer

Professor Pamela Armstrong, Executive Board Member

Professor Anthony Farley, Executive Board Member

Professor Stephen Gottlieb, Executive Board Member

Professor Mary Lynch, Executive Board Member

Professor Danshera Cords, Executive Board Member

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