Under the CPA's Order Number One, all former Ba'athist civil service workers employed in any of three top management levels have been expelled from their jobs; those who held one of the Ba'ath party's top four ranks have been ousted from public service.
All government ministries, universities and hospitals will be affected.
"The suggestion that there are lots and lots of innocent people who have been unfairly dismissed is not true. Less than 5 percent of the Ba'ath party members are covered," an unnamed coalition spokesman told the Guardian's Jonathan Steele.
Professor Hamad al-Rawi said that the order violates the Fourth Geneva Convention protection against collective punishment by occupiers.
Despite a petition submitted from 350 students and 30 staff from Baghdad University, the professor from Baghdad University's architecture department will be one of an estimated 2,000 senior staff not returning to Iraqi's colleges in the fall.
"The problem is they didn't look at who were really leaders. They made the issue of rank too important and went down too low," said Professor al-Rawi, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. "Instead of targeting a thousand or a few hundred people, they targeted 80,000."
Al-Rawi and others interviewed said they joined the Ba'ath Party before Saddam Hussein took their socialist, secular movement and made it the only legal political party in his oppressive regime.
Under Hussein's dictatorship, party membership for professionals was not a choice, and the CPA decree is seen as a blow to Iraq's educated middle-class citizens.
"I'm becoming a bit paranoid but I think the Americans intend to force Iraqi brains to go abroad," said another dismissed professor.
YellowTimes.org correspondent Lisa Ashkenaz Croke drafted this report