Association Criticizes Meharry for Treatment of Faculty
NASHVILLE, Tenn. A national higher education advocacy group is defending several former Meharry Medical College faculty members who say they were wrongfully let go.Dr. Joel Trupin, 70, and three other professors sued Meharry in September 2003 after their contracts weren’t renewed. They argued they had been singled out for criticizing the administration on campus and in the press. Trupin, a microbiology professor, asked the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to investigate after the contracts were not renewed. AAUP investigators found that “Trupin’s chief offense seems to have been that over a number of years he was a vigorous and frank critic of the Meharry administration.” The organization also blamed the administration for ignoring the protections of faculty tenure that certain professors had earned through decades of service, even though they did not formally have tenure. Dr. John Maupin, the school’s president since 1994, defended the school and said he felt AAUP investigators were “a little unbalanced in their review and conclusions.” “I respect their comments, but they do not dictate my actions,” he said. Trupin started teaching at Meharry in 1971. Another microbiologist, Dr. Shirley Russell, started there full time in 1974. AAUP contends both should have had the same rights as tenured professors. But Maupin and Meharry spokeswoman Jill Scoggins said faculty members approved changes in tenure policies in the past few years. “We’ve maintained all along that there is no such thing as de facto tenure,” according to Scoggins. Trupin said faculty members had little choice but to approve the policy changes, because Meharry’s administration had vowed to withhold recommendations for promotions and tenure until they did. AAUP said Maupin’s unwillingness to work in good faith with the professors is an “abuse of loyal and dedicated faculty” and “assumes tragic dimensions.” Maupin disagreed. “We are trying to do what is the appropriate thing to manage this institution in a new era to ensure that we have the right balance of faculty, the right balance of expertise in today’s teaching, research and basic care environment,” he said. — Associated Press
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