N.J. college's professors must now report to the Chinese government, union charges

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Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Professors hired to work for a New Jersey college at its satellite campus in China have been told they are now effectively employees of the communist Chinese government, union leaders say. 

The professors, including more than 50 American citizens, were hired at Wenzhou-Kean University, a satellite campus Kean University launched in 2012 amid a trend of colleges partnering with the Chinese government in search of big profits. 

The faculty have always been employees of Kean University, paid in U.S. dollars and been members of a local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, according to the union. 

Now, they will be employees of Wenzhou-Kean University, paid in Chinese currency and have been told they can no longer be in an American union. 

While Kean University oversees academic departments as part of the partnership agreement, the Chinese government is in charge of non-academic functions and appoints eight members to the 15-member governing board, though 10 votes are needed for major decisions, according to the university.  

Professors are concerned about the potential impact on academic freedom and academic integrity and whether the shift is aligned with the goals of a public university, union leaders said. 

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