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National Faculty Group Takes Two New Orleans Universities Off Censure List

NEW ORLEANS – The University of New Orleans and Loyola University of New Orleans have been removed from a national academic group’s censure list.

The two institutions were among four New Orleans universities censured in 2007 by the American Association of University Professors after programs were cut and faculty furloughed or terminated after Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. The group censured UNO, Southern University at New Orleans, Tulane University and Loyola.

Jordan Kurland, associate general secretary of the AAUP, said the organization officially removed UNO and Loyola from the list during a weekend meeting in Washington. SUNO and Tulane already had been removed.

UNO’s acting chancellor, Joe M. King, said university officials were pleased to be off the list. Loyola President Kevin Wildes echoed that comment and said Monday that the removal “is yet another indication of the university’s recovery from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.”

A statement recapping the issues from AAUP said administrators at UNO, which flooded badly after levees failed during Katrina, initially planned to lay off 80 faculty members, although that number fell to 18 after unexpected resignations and retirements.

“The imposition of censure by the Association’s 2007 annual meeting led immediately to offers of reinstatement in several cases,” the statement from an AAUP committee said. “The AAUP staff entered into discussion with administrative officers about reinstatement or an alternative resolution in additional cases, and within a few months all of the contested cases known to the Association were resolved.”

More recently, UNO’s administration accepted most of AAUP’s suggested changes in a plan the university adopted for dealing with its financial circumstances after Katrina, leading to the lifting of censure, according to the AAUP.

Loyola did not suffer flood damage but lost enrollment after flooding shut down most of the city for weeks. A plan for ending several programs and terminating 11 tenured professors and six probationary professors led to a complaint from the AAUP that the university had not followed its own policies. Meanwhile, several of the dismissed professors went to court.

AAUP’s committee statement noted that all of the cases had been settled. It also outlined steps Loyola administrators took to improve the “current climate at the institution for academic freedom and tenure.” Those included regular meetings with faculty by the provost and the adoption of new provisions protecting faculty that will have the force of legal contracts.

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