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2009 July 13 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: AAUP Censures North Idaho Community College Over Firing

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — North Idaho College has been censured by the American Association of University Professors for terminating a part-time English instructor.

The 47,000-member association earlier this month made the college Idaho’s only entry on its list of “censured administrations” that it believes violated academic freedom and due process of employees.

The two-year college has never given an explanation of why it didn’t renew the contract of adjunct instructor Jessica Bryan in 2007.

The association said it found no plausible academic basis for the college’s decision.

“There’s a lot of exploitation” of part-time faculty,
Robert Kreiser, the senior program officer who investigated for the association, told The Spokesman-Review. “This report is intended to emphasize the importance of treating such individuals well.”

Part-time and adjunct faculty constitute about 50 percent of college and university instructors nationwide, the association said.

John Martin, NIC’s vice president for community relations and marketing, said the college had no responsibility to rehire Bryan, who was told by an e-mail on the last day of classes in 2007 that she would not be returning to teach in 2008.

Martin said the college uses part-time faculty to maintain flexibility.

By contrast, he said, the association “treats everyone as though they’re tenure-track individuals. We’re not pleased about being censured by them, but we’re not overly concerned about it, either.”

The association has long represented tenured professors and faculty members. Three years ago, it adopted specific policy recommendations for colleges and universities when dealing with part-time instructors, who are often hired on temporary contracts and offered less job security.

The association’s report said Bryan worked for the college from 2001 to 2007, teaching two classes a semester. She also worked full-time during two of those years and received positive evaluations, the association said. She was nominated for the college’s part-time faculty of the year award in Spring 2007.

The school rejected Bryan’s request for a faculty review on her claim that the administration had discriminated against her qualifications for reappointment and that it had discriminated against her because of conflicts the school had with her husband, Keith Hunter, a tenured English instructor.

It is unclear what those conflicts were.

The association also noted a separate incident that contributed to the termination — a possibly negative remark Bryan made about Republicans in a class in 2007.

The remark offended a student, who later detailed the incident on conservative blogs. Coeur d’Alene police later investigated death threats people across the country sent to Bryan by e-mail.

Bryan said the comment was meant to spark discussion in an English class on critical thinking and persuasive writing.

The association has put nearly 50 colleges and universities on its “censured administrations” list since 1963.

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