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The American Association of University Professors will investigate the "crisis in academic governance that has occurred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic," it said Monday. The resulting report, expected in early 2021, will focus on Canisius College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Keuka College, Marian University, Medaille College, National University and Wittenberg University. AAUP investigators will determine whether these colleges and universities have strayed from the association’s widely followed principles and standards of academic governance during the pandemic, not least of all when laying off tenured faculty members.

"Since March, the AAUP has received numerous complaints from faculty members detailing unilateral actions taken by their governing boards and administrations to dictate how courses are taught, to suspend key institutional regulations, to reduce and close departments and majors, to compel faculty members to teach in person, and to lay off long-serving faculty members," Gregory Scholtz, director of academic freedom, tenure and governance at the association, said in a statement. "In most cases, the stated basis for the actions was the need to deal with pandemic-related financial shortfalls."

The AAUP previously investigated faculty terminations at five New Orleans-area institutions following Hurricane Katrina. It eventually censured four of them for alleged violations of faculty rights.