Advocacy Briefs

Seth Denbo | Sep 1, 2015

This summer the American Historical Association continued advocacy work around issues that affect higher education and the study of history. The AHA signed letters regarding the following four issues.

Undocumented Students in Georgia Higher Education

In June 2015, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia instituted a new policy making it unlawful for undocumented students to enroll in any of the top five public universities in Georgia. Vicki L. Ruiz, president of the AHA, wrote a letter to the members of the Board of Regents arguing that the new policy creates a form of segregation that would put approximately 19,000 students at a disadvantage. Read her letter at

State Historical Society of Iowa Funding Cuts

Also in June, Iowa governor Terry Branstad proposed cuts to the funding of the research collections of the State Historical Society of Iowa, which holds the state’s archives. This is not the first time such funding cuts have been made to this institution. Vicki Ruiz wrote a letter to Governor Branstad expressing the AHA’s concern. The full letter is available at

Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin

The AHA protested Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to change Wisconsin state law, which currently protects tenure for professors teaching in the state’s public universities. With 21 other organizations, the AHA signed a letter that stated that the proposed legislation threatens “to undermine several longstanding features of the state’s current higher education system: shared governance, tenure, and academic freedom.” The letter argued that academic freedom is “the foundation of intellectual discovery.” To read the full letter, visit

Possible Closure of the Illinois State Museum

AHA executive director James Grossman wrote a letter of concern to Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois, expressing concern about the possible closing of the 138-year-old Illinois State Museum in September. Governor Rauner proposed $820 million in cuts to the 2016 fiscal year budget. The Illinois State Museum is one of five museums that are in danger. In June, the museums began returning borrowed artworks to their owners. To read the full letter, go to

The AHA needs your help to continue these efforts. Please join, renew, or donate today at

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