AAUP-UC Executive Council Response to the Administration’s Delay on Enforcing Student Vaccine Mandate


The UC Administration recently announced that the vaccine mandate for students will not be enforced until after the Spring 2022 semester. AAUP-UC strongly believes that this decision is wrong-headed and dangerous. We are also deeply troubled by the lack of shared governance leading up to the decision, along with the poor communication surrounding it.

The purpose of vaccine mandates is to ensure the health and safety of everyone on all of our UC campuses, and there is no dispute that the higher the vaccine rates, the safer our community will be. Failing to enforce the mandate for students makes our campuses less safe. Numerous other universities, including regional neighbors Miami University and Xavier University, have shown thoughtful leadership by enforcing sound vaccination policies that protect their faculty, staff, and students. UC has failed by comparison.

This decision to delay enforcement of this policy sends a message that the Administration does not value the safety of UC faculty, staff, or students. Such a message not only damages morale but also threatens recruitment and retention. The decision also compromises the Administration’s credibility to enforce health and safety measures—and disciplinary actions more generally—moving forward. A mandate that turns out not to be mandatory is not a mandate at all. Accordingly, many students and employees will conclude that they don’t have to take the Administration’s word seriously.

Finally, the way this decision was communicated to Faculty and Staff effectively obscured this critical policy change. Remarkably, there has been no direct communication from President Pinto. Instead, the news was buried in a routine-looking “update” email from Provost Ferme and was delivered while Faculty were wrapping up exams and finalizing grades.

In light of this ill-considered policy change, AAUP-UC demands that the Administration takes the following actions:

  1. Announce and enforce increased testing and masking requirements, along with other well-established health and safety protocols. A mask mandate must be maintained and enforced on all UC campuses during Spring semester.
  2. Design and implement an effective strategy to communicate these safety protocols to the entire UC community. This strategy must include engagement at the presidential level.
  3. Prohibit students from enrolling in Summer 2022 or subsequent semesters unless they have been fully compliant with the current mandate. We implore the administration to use the leverage of preventing future enrollment, which is a concrete consequence that has a better chance of shaping student behavior than a vague threat of disciplinary action at some point after the end of the semester.
  4. Locate additional vaccination and testing resources on the regional campuses, where rates of vaccination among students are lowest.
  5. Communicate the number of confirmed cases, vaccination rates, and other critical health and safety data to the UC community weekly.
  6. Schedule President Pinto to meet immediately with AAUP-UC and Faculty Senate representatives to discuss their concerns regarding health and safety issues and working conditions.

We believe these action steps provide the best path forward and will keep all of our campus communities as safe as they can be, given the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic that is still with us.

As always, the AAUP-UC stands ready to work with the Administration and Faculty Senate in an environment of shared governance.

In Solidarity,
AAUP-UC Executive Council

Ohio Proposed “Divisive concepts” Bills

Emily Houh and Steve Mockabee presented the current Ohio bills aimed at restricting faculty across disciplines from discussing “divisive topics” in classrooms throughout Ohio.  Take a look at their presentation to familiarize yourself with the proposed legislation and to see what action you can take to assist in maintaining academic freedom in Ohio.  These bills, and those like them in other states, have the potential to chill the free exchange of ideas at universities and colleges and to violate core AAUP principles.

Powerpoint Slideshow

PDF Version

Open Letter to President Pinto

TO: President Pinto

FROM: Connie Kendall Theado, AAUP-UC President

DATE: August 26th, 2021

RE: COVID-19 Communications

CC: Provost Ferme, College Deans, AAUP-UC Bargaining Unit

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on the entire University of Cincinnati community, and it has been an exceptionally difficult eighteen months. As the professional organization representing the collective interests and workplace rights of more than 1,700 faculty at UC, AAUP-UC remains committed to being an effective partner who works with the Administration to fulfill the core academic missions of teaching and research. To that end, we are increasingly concerned about several ongoing communication issues that have unnecessarily complicated the return to campus for faculty, students, and staff.

Over the past several weeks, for instance, we have received numerous phone calls and emails asking for clarification regarding the information provided by the University about COVID-19 safety protocols and policies. A recurring concern from faculty focuses specifically on how various colleges and campuses have been receiving different and sometimes conflicting information about these very protocols and policies. The issues currently causing the most concern and confusion among faculty include:

  • The UC COVID Check app, specifically how and when to use it;
  • Mask wearing, particularly how the stated policy will be enforced and by whom;
  • How and when PCR testing will be requested or required;
  • And most recently, President Pinto’s decision to Tweet out an important announcement about the University’s position on vaccine mandates, rather than using official channels of communication.

From an institutional perspective, especially on a matter as serious as a global pandemic—which we know the Administration also takes very seriously—communication of vital information, like the concerns listed above, should be shared in a unified, consistent manner and from a centralized source. In other words, it should not be left to each college administration or individual academic unit heads to interpret and craft a message about COVID-related policy decisions or rules from the President’s or Provost’s offices. We strongly urge the Administration to revisit their communications model, which is not meeting the moment, and instead reach out to all constituent groups and shared governance bodies with unified and clear messaging.

In a recent statement on the re-opening of colleges and universities, AAUP President Irene Mulvey called on “campus administrations to do everything possible to ensure the highest level of health and safety,” noting that:Institutions of higher education exist to serve the common good. As places of knowledge creation and scientific discovery, our colleges and universities are uniquely situated to provide leadership by amplifying and promoting trust in science and CDC guidelines as well as putting in place sound public health policies and practices including making vaccination easy and convenient for all members of the campus community.”

In the spirit of shared governance, AAUP-UC is ready to work with the Administration to address the pressing concerns faculty have shared with us and that we are now sharing with you—including the critical question of vaccine mandates to protect our own health and wellbeing as well as the health and wellbeing of everyone in our UC community.

We are committed to promoting and assisting this work in any way we can.

AAUP-UC Executive Council