The American Association of University Professors released today a preliminary report sounding alarm about Florida higher education under Ron DeSantis’s governorship—and calling for academe to fight back.
“It is imperative that we pay attention to the dire situation in Florida now,” the report says. “What is happening in Florida will not stay in Florida. We call on all professional organizations, unions, faculty, staff and administrators across the country to fight such ‘reforms’ tooth and nail and to offer support to our colleagues in Florida however they can. We are in this together.”
DeSantis’s press secretary responded in an email, “Florida is No. 1 in higher education, and Governor DeSantis intends to keep it that way.”
Multiple media outlets have reported that DeSantis will announce his presidential run today.
In January, the AAUP announced “the establishment of a special committee to review an apparent pattern of politically, racially and ideologically motivated attacks on public higher education in Florida.”
Henry Reichman, one of the report’s authors and a professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay, said he expected the final report to be done by now. But he said the issue was bigger than committee members had realized, the harm was ongoing and more harm may come this summer, when students and faculty members aren’t around to protest.
“The undersigned members of this special committee have interviewed more than 40 faculty members and a former president at multiple public Florida colleges and universities, and we have immersed ourselves in a dizzying array of documents and media reports,” he and the others wrote. “Our efforts thus far have led us to conclude that academic freedom, tenure and shared governance in Florida’s public colleges and universities currently face a politically and ideologically driven assault unparalleled in U.S. history. Initiated and led by Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican majority in the state legislature, this onslaught, if sustained, threatens the very survival of meaningful higher education in the state, with the direst implications for the entire country.”