UCOP updates policy to protect ‘non-faculty academic appointees’

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The UC Office of the President, or UCOP, released a policy in its personnel manual that goes beyond its previous policy in establishing protections for nonfaculty academic appointees.

In November, UCOP added Section 011 to its Academic Personnel Manual, or APM, otherwise known as APM-011.

This section establishes that nonfaculty academic appointees have the same protections as faculty when participating in “teaching, research, scholarship, or the public dissemination of knowledge,” according to the new policy. UCOP’s policy will take effect Feb. 1, 2020.

According to Section 010 of the APM, academic freedom protects “freedom of inquiry and research, freedom of teaching, and freedom of expression and publication” and allows the university to effectively communicate knowledge to its students and the public. Before the addition of APM-011, academic freedom pertained only to faculty.

“The fundamental mission of the University is to advance knowledge, to disseminate knowledge to its students and to society at large, and to foster in its students a mature independence of mind,” according to APM-011. “The University depends upon professional contributions not only by its faculty, but also by its non-faculty academic appointees.”

Nonfaculty appointees are determined by university administration as an academic appointee of instruction or research who teaches an approved class for credit, according to the APM FAQ section.

APM-011 does not apply to academic researchers represented by the United Auto Workers, or UAW, union, according to the FAQ section. Only academic researchers not represented by UAW can partake in the privileges of the new policy.

UAW Local 2865 could not be reached for comment as of press time.

David Eifler, co-chair of University Council-American Federation of Teachers 1474, said in an email that UC librarians addressed the issue of academic freedom during contract negotiations one and a half years ago. Settled in March, UC system librarians secured a nonbinding commitment that UCOP would address the issue with nonteaching academic appointees. 

“As such, UC librarians deserve much of the credit for APM-011’s passage and are proud of the role we played in bringing it about on behalf of non-teaching academic employees,” Eifler said in an email.

Josh Lewis, UC Student Association, or UCSA, labor relations officer, offered support for the policy.

“UCSA is excited to … (hear) that the UC has enumerated specifically the protections afforded to faculty academic appointees to non-faculty appointees as well as it relates to academic freedom,” Lewis said in an email. “That being said, we stand with UC unions and union members in their continued and ongoing effort to increase equitable, just, and livable compensation and working conditions that will benefit students.”

Contact Marc Escobar at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @mescobar_dc.