AAUP reacts to new hiring guidelines

By Lauren Lavelle

An email sent to Rider faculty members from their union’s leadership on Nov. 28 warned of a a new set of hiring guidelines presented by Rider’s administration. 

According to Jeff Halpern, the Rider’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter chief grievance officer, the new guidelines call for increased diversity among Rider’s faculty, something Halpern said the AAUP is open to, just not without proper notice. 

“We agree that it would be great to get more diversity in the faculty and we’ve always been interested in seeing that happen, but the administration can’t simply say, “Here, we’re doing it now,” Halpern said. 

In the email, members of the AAUP expressed their concern for the new guidelines, claiming its initial opposition to them was taken out of context and that the union is most concerned with what it called “the real goal … to diminish the role of the faculty in hiring.”

“Unfortunately, our concerns have been mis-characterized by some as AAUP opposition to increasing faculty diversity. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said the email. “The AAUP firmly believes in the value of diversity, of students, faculty and ideas in education. We have a long history here at Rider of fighting for increased diversity including encouraging the faculty to foster the value of multiculturalism and diversity in teaching and in scholarship through their own work and through their involvement in the hiring and mentoring process.”

The email addressed the lack of involvement the AAUP had in creating the potential new guidelines. 

“What we have objected to in the present moment was the unilateral introduction of new procedures for hiring with no reference to or agreement by the AAUP,” the email said. “These new procedures aim to reduce the faculty role in hiring and elevate the administrative role in the process under the guise of improving diversity.”

According to Halpern, the AAUP’s main opposition to the guidelines involves the power they give to the Provost during the faculty hiring process. 

The email referenced the administration’s “Guide for Hiring Procedures” which said, “Although faculty actively recruit their colleagues, screen candidate pools, interview candidates, and make recommendations to the Dean, it is the Provost, in consultation with the Dean, who determines who should be hired.”

Halpern said the statement is “simply not true” and that the Provost only steps into the hiring process after potential faculty members are approved by several others. 

“The faculty interview three to five candidates,” he said. “They rank them in order of preference. Then that list goes to the Dean. The Dean is supposed to offer the job to the number one person unless there are compelling reasons provided in writing why that person can’t be hired. If the faculty [are not convinced by the compelling reasons] it then goes to the Provost. The Provost can choose between the Dean’s position and the faculty’s position.”

The email ended with the announcement of plans to meet with members of Rider’s administration to discuss the issue further. 

“The AAUP as always stands ready to discuss with the administration changes to the Agreement that would increase the diversity of the faculty while maintaining the centrality of faculty in the hiring process and we have already agreed to meet with representatives of the Provost to see if that can be accomplished,” the email said. 

Kristine Brown, associate vice president for university marketing and communications, echoed the email’s ending statement. 

“With the growing diversity of our student population, and as outlined in the university’s strategic plan, we are committed to making every effort to further diversify our faculty and staff.” Brown said. “We have agreed to work with the AAUP to address their concerns while at the same time to work toward a goal of greater diversity among the faculty.”

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