- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 17, 2003

RICHMOND — For the first time in 28 years, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) does not appear on the American Association of University Professors’ list of censured academic administrations.

Delegates to the association’s annual convention in Washington voted on Saturday to remove VCCS from the list after the system improved its job-protection policies.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) voted to censure the system in 1975 after its chancellor and governing board stopped granting tenure to professors, who were given no advance notice of the action.

Before 1975, community college professors were eligible for tenure after three one-year appointments. In recent years, professors have continued to serve three one-year terms, followed by a three-year appointment and then contract renewal every five years.

“The system’s official policies in recent years have included provisions for academic due process that did not exist when the censure was imposed, but the policies lacked explicit protections that accrue with indefinite tenure following a probationary period,” the university professors group said in a news release.

The VCCS addressed that shortcoming by adopting a statement that a professor’s indefinite retention is presumed after six years of service unless the administration demonstrates cause for termination in a hearing, the AAUP said.

A committee of community college presidents that revised the policy “also approved previously-absent safeguards against faculty layoffs and a stronger statement on academic freedom,” the professors’ organization said.

The schedule for contract renewal remains unchanged, VCCS spokesman Del Stewart said yesterday.

AAUP spokesman Jonathan Knight said the new policy cannot be characterized as tenure although it offers similar protections.

“From our point of view, what fundamentally matters are the safeguards, however they describe them,” Mr. Knight said.

Mr. Stewart said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois decided shortly after taking the job two years ago that he wanted to work with the AAUP to remove the system from the list, even though the censure has not affected the community colleges’ ability to attract faculty.

“It was just sort of a dark cloud hanging over the system,” Mr. Stewart said.

Mr. DuBois said in a written statement that removal of the censure “is a true testament to our commitment to protect the rights of our faculty.”

The community college system includes 23 colleges on 40 campuses throughout the state. The system serves more than 80,000 students.

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