University of Arizona: Professors Deemed ‘Problematic’ Excluded from Ballot for Academic Freedom Committee


University of Arizona

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FIRE Victory closed

In January 2022, University of Arizona professors Matthew Abraham, Wei Hua Lin, and Keith Maggert learned they had not been selected to appear on the ballot for the faculty senate to vote on members of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Abraham filed a records request, which revealed emails showing the professors were excluded based on rumors they are “problematic” and have “hidden agendas.” On September 21, FIRE wrote U of A explaining that faculty cannot trust that their academic freedom is protected when those on the committee hearing grievances are university-approved. U of A responded to FIRE, disputing our characterization and insisting no one staff member has the “power” to exclude others from the ballot. When FIRE again wrote to U of A expressing concern, the university maintained no wrongdoing had occurred. On December 20, a U of A faculty committee released an investigative report finding that administrators, staff, and faculty did not follow proper procedures in narrowing the list of faculty to appear on the CAFT ballot. On January 24, 2023, faculty took action to protect academic freedom when administrators wouldn’t by passing a resolution ensuring the faculty would vote on all eligible faculty to join CAFT.