Call for Members: NCA Task Force on Academic Freedom and Tenure in Higher Education in the U.S.




The NCA Executive Committee of the Legislative Assembly (EC) on June 9 approved the formation of a Task Force on Academic Freedom and Tenure in Higher Education in the U.S. The Association is looking to fill four (4) at-large positions on the Task Force.

NCA President, Walid Afifi, has charged the Task Force with gathering information about current threats to academic freedom and tenure in higher education in the U.S., then proposing solutions/actions that NCA can take to play an effective role in advocacy and resistance, both to existing threats and potential future ones.

The call is now open for NCA member-volunteers who are interested in serving on the Task Force and doing this work. Please note that both in the selection of Council representatives and at-large members, on the Task Force, preference will be given to scholars whose research and pedagogy are being targeted and negatively impacted, who are employed at public colleges and universities in states with current or pending legislation aimed at curtailing academic freedom (e.g., Florida, Texas, Iowa), who have experience or expertise in strategic planning and resistance, and/or who have administrative experience. Note that these are PREFERENCES not REQUIREMENTS and fit with these preferences is NOT required for application.

Representation from a range of college and university types, as well as geographic locations, is desirable, as is a Task Force membership that reflects the range of academic rank and employment security.

These are among the types of threats to Academic Freedom and Tenure in Higher Education that the Task Force is expected to consider, among others:

  • State legislation that restricts teaching specific topics and issues, anti-woke legislation, and censorship.
  • Legislation that prohibits using state funds for diversity, equity, and inclusion work or any work that lifts minoritized or historically oppressed communities.
  • Legislation that threatens tenure processes.

Examples of the kind of activities and work that Task Force members will conduct: 

  • Reviewing recent and developing state legislation.
  • Gathering information on and liaising with other associations and organizations that are also working to defend academic freedom and oppose state legislation.
  • Developing strategies for supporting NCA members who are especially vulnerable because of national or state legislation.
  • Proposing strategies for improved communication with NCA members about current and ongoing attacks on academic freedom, as well as related strategies for resistance and advocacy.

When the Task Force concludes its work, it is expected to provide the EC with a report that includes a summary of meetings held, information gathered, and detailed recommendations—some immediate, some near-future, and some longer-runway; some small and some big -- for adoption by NCA. In addition, the Task Force will present a range of budgetary cost recommendations—what’s needed for NCA to become an active part of resistance against current and future threats to academic freedom and tenure. The Task Force Report should make a case for the existence of a problem and be equipped to offer viable solutions that NCA’s leadership can consider for adoption. Budget costs and NCA’s strategic plan must be explicitly addressed with each recommendation.

As with all Task Force reports, there is no guarantee that these recommendations will be adopted in whole or in part, but there is a guarantee that the National Office, the EC, and, as relevant, the LA, will carefully consider all related proposals that align with the Association’s strategic plan goals and are fiscally responsible.

The Task Force on Academic Freedom and Tenure in the U.S. will begin work by October 15, 2023, and conclude by August 15, 2024 (10 months). The Task Force will have monthly meetings, starting in October, with additional meetings scheduled as needed. Task Force members are expected to spend 1-2 hours preparing for each meeting.

The deadline for applications is October 2. The application must include:

  • Name
  • Affiliation
  • Academic Rank
  • A cover letter, no longer than one page, explaining why you would make a good fit for this Task Force (including any service experience with NCA, although past NCA service is not required). Interest in serving as Task Force Chair (or co-Chair) should be included in the cover letter.
  • CV

The NCA President, Task Force Chair (if in place by then), and NCA’s Executive Director will select among applicants for the at-large positions.

Please click on the link below to submit your application. You must login using your NCA membership account.