BYU still on list of censured schools

But Westminster removed for giving professors rights

Desert Morning News, Utah/June 14, 2006

Westminster College earned its way off a list of censured institutions this week after 21 years carrying the stigma of a university that violates academic freedom and tenure.

Brigham Young University, however, remains on the list.

The censure list by the American Association of University Professors calls out colleges and universities that do not allow tenured professors sufficient freedom in teaching and research.

Both Westminster in 1985 and BYU in 1998 landed spots on the censure list, but AAUP officials voted Westminster off the list this week after finding college leaders have worked to better ensure due process before termination of tenured employees.

The AAUP originally put the private Salt Lake institution on the list because of a move by school leaders to abandon the system of tenure at the college. That move threatened the jobs of several faculty members, allowing only one-year appointments.

Now, Westminster has revised its faculty protocol, adopting a provision assuring some protections for all full-time faculty members with more than seven years of service.

AAUP leaders voted during their annual conference Saturday to confirm that Westminster is a "healthy, functioning institution of higher education."

BYU, however, is still on the list and university leaders aren't making any move to get their name cleared.

The Provo university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints got onto the list after a professor was denied tenure. AAUP leaders said that denial was based on the faculty member's views on feminism and because her views were contrary to the tenets of the LDS Church.

AAUP's report also found that BYU's appeal procedures were inadequate.

Despite the accusations, university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the listing is not a top priority for BYU.

"We have been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. When they came in 1996, they particularly examined and reviewed our academic freedom policy and approved us," she said.

Although BYU leaders did work to explain to the AAUP that the school's academic freedom policy is "clear and honest," Jenkins said they are not concerned about getting off the list.

"We have been very busy with other matters," she said.

The AAUP's censure list includes 43 universities and colleges. Along with Westminster, four other colleges were removed from the list this week including Des Moines University in Iowa, Maryland Institute College of Art, Nyack College in New York and the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex.

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