May 2005                                    Editor: Patricia Brodsky                                   Vol. 5, No. 4


Threat of Privatization of UMKC, by Patricia Brodsky

Who is Warren K. Erdman?, by Alfred Esser

What is Privatization?, by David Brodsky

UM President's Meeting with AAUP Chapter Unprecedented

Chancellor Search, by Patricia Brodsky

Chancellor Search Committee Members

Statement on the Chancellor's Search Process Presented to the Faculty Senate, April 5, 2005,
by Patricia Brodsky

MO AAUP Conference Annual Meeting Discusses State Defunding

Political Show Trial of Ward Churchill, by David Brodsky

MO AAUP Conference Resolution on Ward Churchill

Open Letter from Academics Supporting Ward Churchill

Hamilton College Alumna Amy McAninch Defends
    Academic Freedom

Tent State University, by Patricia Brodsky

AAUP Summer Institute 2005

News of the Chapter

Corrections of print version of Faculty Advocate

Copyright Notice

Dues Information

Back Issues

Public Higher Education Again Under Fire: Privatization of UMKC may be in the Works

by Patricia Brodsky

        As a public university UMKC exists to educate the citizens of Missouri and to further human knowledge.  The University--its faculty, staff and administration--welcome creative suggestions about how we can better work together to strengthen the University and the city.  UMKC is already involved in dozens of cooperative projects in the community.  These include, for example, the annual Foreign Language Fair for area high schools sponsored by the Foreign Language Department; the School of Education's Institute of Urban Education, and its Empowerment Program, funded by the Jackson County Mental Health Levy; the Composers in the Schools program of the Conservatory of Music; the cooperative agreement between Miller Nichols and Linda Hall libraries; students in the Geosciences Department working in internships in the Kansas City Planning Department; free clinics offered by the Dental School and the Law School; and SBS collaborative projects with KU Medical Center.

        That said, it's clear that not every suggestion is offered in a spirit of good will and cooperation.  Some have strings attached, and some are stealth campaigns that it would be foolish and dangerous to ignore.  Such a project is the "Blue Ribbon Task Force," commissioned by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation with the blessings of the UMKC Trustees and of Governor Matt Blunt.

The Renewed Attack

        Following Gilliland's resignation, there were prolonged assaults in the media--on the University, the President, the faculty, and the principle of tenure.  Vilification vanished for several months, then reappeared in the March 18 issue of the Kansas City Business Journal, which recommended a reorganization plan for the University of Missouri that would eliminate "the job of universitywide president," and, of course, its current occupant, whom the Journal "strongly advocate[s] removing" (Braude, "University").  This marked the start of a new campaign by certain business interests, who are angered and frustrated by events at UMKC. 

        An April 11 press release informed the public that the UMKC Trustees, a private body without any legal role in the governance of the University, had endorsed a task force commissioned by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.  The GKCCF is a local non-profit that manages and distributes private donations to civic projects.  The avowed intention of the task force is "to conduct a ... study of UMKC as an urban university....  The study process will include a review of best practices of leading urban universities across the country....  With the search for a new chancellor underway, reviewing the University's role in the urban community will be valuable."

        The Foundation officially sent a letter to the Trustees on April 12, proposing the task force and requesting the Trustees' approval.  The letter, which describes a team of "national education and urban development leaders" that had clearly already been constituted, concludes disingenuously: "If the Trustees are supportive of this initiative, the Community Foundation will proceed immediately to organize the Blue Ribbon Task Force."  Many at the University were jarred by the fact that the discussion completely circumvented those legally responsible for governing the University--the President, the Board of Curators, and the faculty.  The letter was cc'ed to System President and Interim UMKC Chancellor Floyd as a courtesy.  He was not asked whether he thought a study was necessary or desirable.

        The Trustees' press release immediately set off alarm bells, in particular the statement, "The task force expects to complete the study in time to support the University System in its search for a new chancellor at UMKC."  Not coincidentally, the Business Journal on April 29 was already proposing its own candidate for chancellor, Carol Marinovich, former head of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas.  Marinovich's most significant accomplishments, according to the Business Journal , were the unification of the governments of the county and the city, and the business development of western Wyandotte County (Kansas Speedway, Cabela's, and other "signature developments").  Her professional qualification for the job is the fact that she "started her career in education," although the Journal admits that she is not a "'pure' educator."  If President Floyd were to take the Journal's advice, it "would cause me to say, 'All is forgiven'" (Braude, "UMKC").

        Thus the study's timing is meant to influence the chancellor search, and the agenda of one proposed candidate is clearly business, rather than academic, development.  However, the right and responsibility to fill the chancellor's position are an internal matter.  A faculty-driven search committee, which also contains representatives from the Trustees and the wider community, is already at work.  No one else from outside the university has a say in this process.

        UMKC is a public institution, and the University of Missouri system and its Board of Curators are established by the Constitution of the State of Missouri.  In addition, the Constitution requires that the General Assembly adequately maintain the state university.  UMKC thus operates within a very clear set of rules, obligations and rights.  One of the reasons for the votes of no confidence which led to Chancellor Gilliland's resignation was the fact that outside forces, such as highly paid consultants, were undermining the principles of faculty governance and exerting undue pressure on the workings of the university.  The Blue Ribbon Task Force study seeks to regain the influence these forces lost with the Chancellor's departure.

The Jefferson City Connection

        But the threats implicit in the commissioning of the Task Force are more far-reaching and more drastic.  The Foundation's letter to the Trustees stated: "[the Foundation feels] this study can be of use to Governor Matt Blunt's Government Reform Commission (sic) as it evaluates the role of state government in higher education."  That is, the Task Force is not simply an ad-hoc body backed by local interests with their own agenda.  It is part of a larger assault on public higher education and the public sphere in general, with direct ties to the Blunt administration and with an agenda echoing the one in Washington.  For example, the Governor recently signed legislation eliminating Medicaid "coverage for about 100,000 Missourians," amounting to about $368 million (Lubbes).  And the Legislature is currently debating a $48 million cut in higher education funding.

        As one of his first acts in office, Governor Blunt formed the Missouri Government Review Commission to recommend a "major reorganization" of state agencies and the University of Missouri.  Its mandate is to "examine executive departments from top-to-bottom and to make recommendations on how state government can address inefficiencies, achieve cost savings and provide better service" (Missouri Government).  The co-chair of the Missouri Government Review Commission, Warren Erdman, is also a UMKC Trustee.  The Blue Ribbon Task Force, despite its supposed Kansas City focus, is scheduled to present its findings not to the Curators or the President but to the Missouri Government Review Commission.

        Thus we can surmise that the Task Force is not "independent" but is intended to dovetail with the Governor's broad attack on public services, and on higher education in particular.  There are other interesting ideological connections.  UMKC Trustee and Missouri Commission co-chair Erdman served as chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004 in Missouri and Kansas (Schlesinger).  The Bush administration is vigorously pursuing the privatization of public services, such as Social Security and education (e.g. through vouchers).  A close continuity with Gilliland's Blueprint is also apparent.  In a letter to the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education in December 2002, Erdman defended the Chancellor's autocratic methods, in familiar pop-psych jargon straight out of Gilliland's press releases (i.e. in "Bluespeak").  Erdman wrote, "UMKC has put forward a clear vision.  We aspire to be a campus where the walls come down, the silos of exclusion are replaced by programs of inclusion, and town and gown commingle, coalesce, and create." 

        The similarities between the Blueprint and the Blue Ribbon Task Force go beyond the color of their title pages to the forces behind them.  It's a safe guess that the report the Blue Ribbon Task Force plans to present will have much in common with the Blueprint/Vision.  Apropos of privatization, we should not forget the recent history of the Gilliland administration, which attempted to sell off UMKC piecemeal to local business interests: SBS to the Stowers Institute (pretext of KC Life Sciences Initiative), the School of Education to the Kauffman Foundation (pretext of community service), and the Law School to Zimmer Companies Incorporated (pretext of downtown revitalization).  Hugh Zimmer is himself a Trustee, as is James Stowers III.  Other major players with a presence on the Board include Hallmark, SW Bell,  Dunn Construction, and Belger Cartage.

        Nor should we forget a long article in the Kansas City Star by Bill Tammeus (Feb. 22, 2003) proposing his vision of the future of UMKC.  Tammeus' frame of reference and proposals closely followed the KC Life Science Initiative and UMKC Blueprint/Vision.  It was answered by Marino Martinez-Carrion in the March 4 Star (reprinted in The Faculty Advocate) and by David Brodsky in the April 2003 Faculty Advocate .

        Thus all the evidence so far suggests the hypothesis that the Blue Ribbon Task Force has been established to privatize public higher education, in part or in toto, starting with UMKC.  More evidence for this hypothesis is offered below.

Benno Schmidt, Chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force

        Any doubts that the Task Force study is a purely predatory move benefiting familiar interests, and that its purpose is privatization of public higher education, can be dispelled by looking at its members, who plan to pass judgment on UMKC and give us "expert" advice about our future.

        The UMKC Board of Trustees described the members of the Task Force as "distinguished national leaders and experts in the field of higher education" (UMKC Board).  Let us examine this claim.

        The person chosen to chair the study, Benno Schmidt, is a notorious champion of privatization and enemy of the public sphere, with a long record of hostile relations with faculty, students, and labor unions.  While president of Yale, he "proposed cutting Yale's faculty ranks by 11% and eliminating Sociology, Linguistics and Engineering departments" (Clarion).  "All but 4 of the 35 departments in arts and sciences [were to] lose faculty positions" (DePalma).  Strong faculty opposition to the cuts was one of the reasons for Schmidt's resignation, after only six years in office, the shortest tenure of a Yale president in the school's history.

        Schmidt is also Chairman of the Board for the Edison Schools corporation, which aggressively pushes to privatize public schools for profit.  But the company has consistently lost money since its inception, and parents' groups at Edison schools around the country are demanding a return to public education for their children (Kaplan, Bracey).  In Kansas City, the board of the Westport Charter School and Edison sued one another and were engaged in lengthy litigation.  A school board official called Edison an "'out-of-state, out-of-touch' management company" (Franey).  As of 2005 at least ten class action suits had been filed against Edison, including for civil rights violations and failure to provide a free and adequate education.  During Schmidt's tenure as Chairman, Edison was fined by the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights for "failing to provide legally required classroom help for a disabled child" (PSC).

        A look at Edison's financial record reveals an even darker picture, and calls into question Schmidt's suitability to advise either Kansas City or the University.  Schmidt has done well for himself in a company which one observer called "Education's Enron" (Bracey).  Edison founder Christopher Whittle arranged for CEO Schmidt to receive a $1.6 million loan from Edison in 1992 and another substantial loan in 1996, both at below market interest rates.  Both Whittle and Schmidt received salaries of close to $300,000 in 1999.  Yet as of that year, Edison had revenues of only $215 million and operating costs of close to $326 million, and was soliciting money from philanthropies at the same time it was trying to sell stock on Wall Street (Byron).

        Things got worse.  Edison used "'aggressive bookkeeping' ... to inflate stock prices while hiding huge losses ...  Edison officers have enjoyed windfalls in the tens of millions of dollars" (Bracey).  By 2002 Edison shares had dropped 98%, and Edison had been accused by the SEC of misleading investors (Evans).  As another commentator pointed out, "Edison's collapse would have been a major embarrassment for boosters of educational privatization" (Moberg).  But in a move that pleased Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who, like his brother, is "an ardent promoter of privatization and school vouchers," Edison was sold in July 2003 to Liberty Partners, the firm that manages investments for the Florida Retirement System (FRS).  "FRS became virtually the sole owner of Edison."  Thus the pension fund for public employees was put at risk in order to bail out a failing company whose goal had been to put them out of work.  The deal with Edison was consummated one year after that same pension fund had lost $325 million on Enron stock.  The only rational explanation for investing in an extremely risky company is not economic but ideological (Moberg).

        Schmidt's next privatization campaign targeted the City University of New York, the largest public urban university in the US.  He first was appointed to head Mayor Giuliani's Advisory Task Force on CUNY.  The hotly contested study he produced, entitled "The City University of New York: An Institution Adrift," resulted in the adoption of a new master plan by the CUNY board of Trustees and the New York State Board of Regents.  After being named head of the board of Trustees at CUNY by Governor Pataki, Schmidt's job was to put this master plan into effect, privatizing parts of the CUNY system and drastically altering the school's ability to fulfill its traditional mission of accessible education for all New Yorkers.  A press release from Governor Pataki's office quotes the Chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company as stating approvingly, "Chairman Schmidt has brought business and industry leaders back into the University" (Pataki).

        As an article in The Nation put it in 1999, the recommendations of Schmidt's task force "would dismantle CUNY's historic commitment, mandated by state law, to serve New Yorkers by maintaining academic excellence and providing 'equal access and opportunity for students'."  It proposed to eliminate remediation, a cornerstone of CUNY's open access policy.  The task force report ignored "the need to apply university expertise to help solve city problems" and "overlooked the increasingly lifelong nature of higher education."  The Nation article concludes, "external politics is driving policy at [CUNY] ... threatening its ability to fulfill its critical mission: to integrate the city's poor and its immigrant population into the economic and social fabric of New York."  In other words, Schmidt's policy at CUNY is to undermine the university's service mission to the community, i.e. the majority of New York's population.

        According to a report in the Clarion , the newsletter of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the faculty union at CUNY, Schmidt's task force also recommended "issuing vouchers for remedial classes" to be taken outside CUNY, and called for "greater reliance on standardized tests" and "more centralized management of CUNY."  These are all characteristics of the "accountability movement," the move toward a corporate model.  Comments Schmidt made during the debate over remediation indicate that he favors a business model for education.  In that context, he said he thought privatization "'can add to people's choices'.  He suggested that the school could subcontract the remedial progam to a private educational source, such as Sylvan, Kaplan or Berlitz.  This could encourage competition among Catholic schools, CUNY, and public high schools" (Mauldin).

        Schmidt's principle of competition applies only to institutions at the bottom of the food chain.  But companies at the top like Edison need not turn a profit, are bailed out by philanthropies and the Florida retirement system, and receive lucrative monopoly franchises from public agencies in Pennsylvania to privatize the large Philadelphia public school system.  Schmidt indulges in standard neo-liberal cynicism when he uses the word "choice" to refer to forcing the poor to pay for remediation that they can't afford and that was formerly free.

        In 2000 Schmidt led a group of investors in the purchase of Ross University, a medical school in the Carribean.  Only three years later the group announced it was selling the school at a $180 million profit ("University Buyout").  Privatization typically entails no long-term commitment to the institution.  Education is merely another commodity, and the only commitment is to investor profit.

        Now Schmidt has come to Kansas City.  He left Yale under faculty pressure, and the CUNY Professional Staff Congress has described him as "implacably antiunion" (PSC).  At Yale he persisted for six years in refusing to meet with representatives of the Graduate Employees and Students Union, and as recently as last week he refused to talk with representatives of the PSC at CUNY, who have been denied raises for 4 years (PSC).  He has also said publicly that most schools of education "have been a massive failure," and that, given the chance, he would "abolish all undergraduate majors in 'education'" (Philanthropy).

The rest of Schmidt's Task Force

        Schmidt apparently selected the other members of the task force.  These are: Richard Atkinson, former president of the University of California state system; James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus of University of Michigan; Susan Lindquist, Molecular Biologist at MIT and member of the Science Advisory Board of Stowers Institute; Sara Martinez Tucker, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Scholarship Fund; Kurt Schmoke, dean of Howard Law School and former Mayor of Baltimore; and Farris Womack, former CFO of the University of North Carolina and University of Michigan. 

        They all share similar educational "values."  Most of them are linked by a network of close professional, personal and ideological ties, as well as ties with UMKC or with former Chancellor Gilliland.  Most of them represent the conservative, corporate, neo-con wing in higher education today.  Schmidt and Sara Martinez-Tucker were both on the board of the Council for Aid to Education, a subsidiary of the Rand Corporation.  In 2004 Rand was under contract to Edison to evaluate its performance (Moberg).  Kurt Schmoke is committed to urban education, but believes vouchers are the way to go.  Like Schmidt, Richard Atkinson has a record of being anti-union.

        More disturbing are James Duderstadt , who resigned as President of the University of Michigan after a bitter struggle with the Regents (Zarko), and Farris Womack, former CFO at the same institution.  Records from political strategy meetings during the Duderstadt administration note that his policy was to "keep the Regents 'dumb, distracted, divided'."  In the book they coauthored after leaving U. of M., The Future of the Public University in America: Beyond the Crossroads (2003), Duderstadt and Womack leave no doubt about their attitudes towards faculty and the democratic process.  They call for "strong, decisive, visionary presidents" and decry shared governance as "cumbersome and awkward at best and ineffective and indecisive at worst ... shared anarchy ... inhibit[ing] change."  Academic officers "should have the same degree of authority to take actions ... that their counterparts in business and government possess."  As a review of their book in the AAUP bulletin Academe notes, they express a "desire to emulate the corporate world" and are "focused on presidential autonomy in privatizing the university" (Rhoades).

        The Blue Ribbon Task Force, then, is not made up of a disinterested body of experts.  Its goal is not to provide guidance for well-meaning community members in relating to UMKC, or for traditionally philanthropic (no strings attached) support of university programs.  It does not represent a grassroots effort to improve communication and cooperation between Kansas City and UMKC, nor does it grow out of a genuine concern for the well-being of either.  It regards the traditional and successful culture of US universities, distinguished by academic freedom, tenure, shared governance, and due process, as merely an obstacle to a corporate takeover serving for-profit privatization ventures. 

        In addition, it is not out of the question that one or more members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force may be candidates for the Chancellor's job at UMKC, a fact the public cannot verify because the search process has been closed to the public.  While Schmidt's move from CUNY to UMKC is unlikely, other "distinguished" members currently out of an administrative job might consider the position.  Recent precedent at UMKC recalls retired university president Frank Horton and his role as enforcer of Gilliland's diktat in SBS.

Strategies and Responses

        We can't know in advance the specific recommendations the Task Force will make in its report.  But, knowing its members' past performance, we can be fairly sure of the direction it will take.  Their proposed study is wrapped in the packaging of reason, neutrality, and constructive engagement.  Larry Jacob, Senior Vice President of Community Investment for the Foundation, stated, "We intend for this study to help guide business, philanthropic, civic and government leaders as they help to strengthen UMKC."  The fox likewise presents himself as the benefactor of the henhouse.

        Privatization could range from partial to full.  If partial, past experience at UMKC and elsewhere provides a number of likely scenarios (see below "What is Privatization?").  If full, the Task Force could conceivably recommend removing UMKC from the UM system, or even dismantling the UM system altogether.  In that case, UMKC could revert to the private institution known as UKC, its designation before joining the University of Missouri in 1964.

        UMKC has every intention of working with our diverse community to achieve our common goals.  Suggestions from the community are welcome and necessary, so long as they are founded on respect for the integrity of the institution.  But ultimately, it is up to the faculty and administration to determine what kind of urban university UMKC can and should be.

        Given the displeasure of well-known elements in the business community at our newfound sense of independence, the unsolicited "guidance" the Task Force proposes to offer could well be a form of blackmail: get back to business as usual, or face unpleasant consequences.  In a time of punitively slashed state funding, some might be sufficiently worried to find this pressure compelling.

        The Blue Ribbon Task Force represents a serious threat to the principles of public higher education and faculty governance, indeed, to the university as we know it.  Faculty, students, staff, administrators, parents, and the public at large need to come to its defense.  Even during finals and after the semester ends, faculty and students should go out of their way to attend any public meeting at which members of the Task Force or the Foundation appear.  They should ask hard questions and insist on straight answers.  They should write to President Floyd, assuring him of their support in rejecting outside interference in the running of the University.  They should write to the UM Curators, express their outrage, and urge them to involve themselves in defense of the public university.  They should write letters and op eds to the Star , exposing this likely attempt to seize control of a public institution.  And above all, they should join with their colleagues in telling everyone they meet (starting, for example, at graduation ceremonies) that UMKC is alive and well, a public university eager to serve the community, and determined to preserve its integrity.

Sources cited

"Benno Schmidt."  Informational leaflet.  Professional Staff Congress (PSC).  City University of New York

Bracey, Gerald W.  "Edison Schools Inc: Education's Enron."

Braude, Michael.  "UMKC needs a unifier as chancellor; it needs WyCo's Carol Marinovich."  Kansas City Business
(April 29, 2005).

Braude, Michael.  "University of Missouri could find organization of Kansas system instructive."  Kansas City Business
(March 18, 2005).

Byron, Christopher. "A Lesson in Corporate Values for Edison Schools." (Aug. 18, 1999).

Council for Aid to Education.  "CAE Board of Directors."

"CUNY's Board of Trustees: The Powers that Be."  Clarion [nd]

"CUNY Faculty and Staff Demand a Fair Contract."  Informational leaflet.  Professional Staff Congress (PSC).  City University
    of New York

DePalma, Anthony.  "Yale Panel Proposes Deep Cuts in Faculty and in Departments."  New York Times (Jan. 17, 1992):
    A1, B4.

Erdman, Warren.  Letter to the Editor.  Chronicle of Higher Education (December 13, 2002).

Evans, David. "Ex-Edison Schools Director Says Board Kept in Dark." (Aug. 16, 2002).

Franey, Lynn.  "With a recent graduation behind it, Westport Charter faces uncertain future."  Kansas City Star (June 1,

Glion Colloquium IV, 2003: Reinventing the Research University.  Conference program.

"Governor Pataki names Benno C. Schmidt new CUNY Trustee Chair."  Press release from Governor's office (April 1, 2003).

Kaplan, Esther.  "Lights Out for Edison."  PSCcuny NEWS BULLETIN , (April 2001).

Lane, Frederick S.  "CUNY under Attack."  The Nation (July 5, 1999).

Lubbes, Sara.  "Medicaid Protests hit Capitol."  Kansas City Star (April 28, 2005).

Mauldin, William S.  "Ex-Yale President Schmidt draws fire in new position."  Yale Herald (Oct. 2, 1998).

Missouri Government Review Commission.

Moberg, David.  "How Edison Survived."  The Nation (March 15, 2004).

Program for Seminars on Academic Computing/Directors Seminar Sessions, 1997.  Conference Program.

"Private Giving Fuels Innovation: an Interview with Benno Schmidt."  The Philanthropy Roundtable (Nov-Dec 2004). 

Rhoades, Gary.  Review.  Beyond the Crossroads: The Future of the Public University in America.  By James J.
    Duderstadt and Farris W. Womack.  Academe (Nov-Dec. 2003): 84-86

Schlesinger, Robert.  "Stocks and Bond." (October 11,

UMKC Board of Trustees.  "Proposed Resolution."  April 11, 2005

UMKC School of Medicine News (Aug. 19, 2004)

"University Buyout."  Yale Insider: News and Analysis for the Yale Community.   March 21, 2003.

Zarko, Chetly.  "U-Michigan Duderstadt Administration Sought to Keep Regents 'Dumb, Distracted, and Divided'. 
    Administrative Arrogance and Disrespect for Democracy Shine Through in Documents from U-M Archives."  The Czar's
(Nov. 20, 2000).

Who is Warren K. Erdman?

by Alfred Esser

        Short answer to this question: Warren K. Erdman is the Republican co-chair of the "Missouri Government Review Commission" created by Governor Matt Blunt to analyze the structure of state government and recommend changes to improve efficiency.  More interesting questions are: how this 46 year-old native of Higginsville, MO could reach such a pinnacle of political power that in significant ways could potentially influence the lives of many Missourians; and what credentials does he bring to the job.

        Members of the UMKC community know him as the UMKC (formerly UKC) trustee who staunchly defended ex-Chancellor Martha Gilliland in a letter to the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education .  The journal had painted a not very flattering picture of Gilliland's attempt to change UMKC from "a 'Cartesian' organization--one that is deterministic and hierarchical--into a 'quantum' one, that is, one that is unpredictable by its nature and stresses relationships among people."  In his response Erdman claimed that the author's description of UMKC "is uninformed and wrong," that Gilliland's "efforts have created heartburn for some of the faculty, especially those who are comfortable in the ways of the past," and that she "should be applauded, not condemned." He predicted that the campus would become a place where "town and gown commingle, coalesce, and create."

        In the "town" he is known as Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Kansas City Southern Industries (KCSI, a holding company comprised of four railroads in the US, Mexico and Panama), and as the current Chairman of the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Kansas City.  He is also on the boards of the Greater Downtown Development Authority of Kansas City, the Downtown Council, the Downtown Community Improvement District, and the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, and was founding chairman of the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance.  Outside the region he serves on the board of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and in 2004 was appointed to the advisory board of FannieMae, the agency which handles mortgage loans.  Indeed many organizations in town use his services and connections, such as the Stowers Institute, for whom he lobbied Missouri lawmakers.

        Aside from successfully completing "Missouri Boys State" training sessions in 1976, he doesn't appear to have garnered any other major scholastic or athletic awards while in high school or at Westminster College in Fulton, MO, where he graduated in 1981.  He did, however, land a job in state government, serving as an Assistant for Public Affairs when Kit Bond was Governor, and he was involved in the strategic planning of the Missouri Republican Party's voter identification and turnout data base program during the Bond and Ashcroft administrations.  During the Reagan, Bush and Dole presidential campaigns, Erdman served as a strategist for the fundraising and grassroots efforts of the Missouri Victory Committees.  After Bond moved to Washington, DC he made Erdman chief of staff overseeing the senator's Washington office and five offices in Missouri until 1997, when Erdman moved back to Missouri to become KCSI's vice president and chief lobbyist.  In 2000, Erdman assisted the Bush-Cheney campaign in Michigan, and during the 2004 election cycle he was the Bush-Cheney '04 regional campaign chairman for the Central region that includes Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.

        As Robert Schlesinger wrote in October 2004 in an on-line article in, one of Erdman's first acts as a KCSI employee was to lobby his former boss to win Senate approval for KCSI's attempt to turn the defunct Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base into a major rail hub.  Bond obliged quickly by inserting into a Senate bill a $500,000 grant for the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to study the proposal.  The same article quotes Celia Wexler, Common Cause's vice president for advocacy: "What bothers me is not so much that he [Bond] has bought stock in the company--although that is somewhat troubling --but ... that his former chief of staff is now lobbying,...  Investments are a concern, but what is more of a concern is the relationships, personal relationships."  [The hundreds of jobs Erdman promised would be available at former Richards-Gebaur never materialized.--Ed.]

        The "winner gets the spoils" maxim and personal relationships appear to have played a big role in Mr. Erdman's ascendance to co-chair of the Reform Commission.  The Associated Press reported that the commission consists mostly of people who donated to Blunt's campaign.  The article cited Missouri Ethics Commission records that showed the appointees' households donated 25 times as much money to Republicans as they did to Democrats.  Considering Missouri's current financial problems, it is not surprising that Mr. Erdman--as reported in the Kansas City Star --"did not want the committee to hire consultants. 'I think we lead by example'."  Of course, with so many friends and allies in Kansas City, it was easy for him to have someone else provide the $50,000 (and counting) to pay for consultants, such as Mr. Benno Schmidt, who will appear before the commission to present the "community's"--or more accurately, his employer's--view on higher education in Kansas City.  Is that what Erdman had in mind when he proclaimed that the commission wants to "hear from the people?"  Pardon the sarcasm, but couldn't he dispense with the charade, and just ask Mr. Schmidt to go the extra mile by writing the "Missouri Government Review Commission"'s final report as well?

What is privatization?

by David Brodsky

(This is a slightly expanded presentation of the print version of The Faculty Advocate --Ed.)

        In a recent meeting with faculty, Benno Schmidt, chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force to "evaluate" UMKC, challenged a faculty member's question with another question: "What do you mean by privatization?"

        For the past two decades Schmidt has specialized in the privatization of public education, both pre-college and higher.  In response to Schmidt's challenge, this article provides a short course, a sort of Privatization 101 or Privatization for Beginners.  While readers may be tempted to dismiss some assertions in this essay as exaggerated, they are all supported by documentation, which can be found in the longer studies listed below under "Resources."

Introductory Remarks

        At the start it must be said that legally regulated business philanthropy--e.g. 501(c)3 organizations--supports educational needs identified by the institution.  By contrast, corporatized "partnerships" set terms and conditions incompatible with the institution's educational mission.

        It's equally important to note at the beginning that the consequences of privatization are not trivial, much less benevolent.  Understanding its operation is not a question of abstract intellectual amusement but a condition for effective deterrence.

        For example, measured by the corporate criteria of commercial utility and "efficiency", the jobs of faculty in unprivileged disciplines--humanities, arts, education, public service oriented social sciences, "outdated" natural sciences, etc.--would be eliminated, or degraded to an extent that faculty might not find bearable.  Accordingly, the students and the campus intellectual and cultural environment would suffer.  Even in the less likely scenario where AAUP guidelines would be retained, tenure would probably not protect you in the face of institutional reorganization.

        Likely consequences of privatization for faculty retirement plans are fairly easy to predict, and they should hit close to home, particularly for senior faculty within a decade of retirement.

        If UMKC is severed from the UM system, then it would probably also be severed from the UM retirement system, in which the faculty's retirement funds are now vested.  Retirement benefits would decrease, perhaps dramatically, among other reasons because the funding pool would be much smaller.

        Since the prime motive to sever UMKC from the UM system would be privatization of the university, the retirement plan would also most likely be privatized.  Faculty would then be forced to invest part or all of their retirement savings in securities they did not choose and would receive diminished benefits. 

        An obvious precedent and possible model is the Florida Retirement System's forced ownership of the Edison Corporation, without the consent of state employees.  Another model is Bush administration privatization plans for Social Security, which similarly contemplate channelling retirement funds into a very narrow range of private investment "choices," very likely high risk instruments funding right-wing policies and entities. 

        Privatized retirement funds will pay lower benefits, because they will be reduced by high handling fees charged by private investment firms.  The main motive for privatization is the opportunity to collect such fees.  The UMKC portion of the UM retirement system (or perhaps the entire UM retirement system itself) may be another prize that Schmidt and other private investors are eyeing.

        There is also the likelihood of retirement funds being wiped out in insecure investments.  The Florida retirement system has already lost $325 million in Enron stock, and Edison, which the system now owns, has been called the Enron of education.  Enron employees lost all their retirement funds when their company went bankrupt.  Upper management sold off its own stock and left employees holding a bag full of worthless paper.

        Finally, given the ultimate goals of neo-liberal ideology (see below), UMKC retirement might simply be eliminated altogether.  This has already happened to hundreds of thousands of employees of private companies, which have reneged on their retirement promises.

        Those who expect immediate personal benefits from privatization should think twice.  Privatization exacts a high price: in loss of faculty autonomy in instruction, research, and institutional governance; and in the sudden abandonment of commitment and funding when a business decides its investment is no longer profitable.  Privatization strategy is to expropriate what can make quick money for investors (not for the university) and to consign the rest to the trash heap.  Because it weakens or eliminates public education for large numbers of people, privatization diminishes not only the targeted fields mentioned above but also the total number of full-time faculty positions.

Basics of privatization

        Most generally privatization signifies the private expropriation of public property.  It transforms public property into a private commodity that can be bought and sold, like cars and computers.  Since investor profit is the main motive in privatization, public property is typically sold to private interests at well below market prices.

        The mass media (especially the privatized airwaves, which legally belong to the public) are already controlled by a few mega-corporations, health care is in the grip of private insurance companies, and public utilities and social security are under siege.

        In neo-liberal parlance, education is classified as a service (as opposed to a manufactured product), and the activities of teaching and learning are caricatured as "trade in services."  Corporate-speak mocks the life of the mind with terms like "customers, stakeholders, and markets."  The underlying issue is the reduction of US intellectual life and culture, including education, to lucre.

        Lucre determines the concentrated ownership of book and journal publishing, of the mass media, and of megabookstore chains (Schiffrin), and the demolition of library budgets and collections of books and journals.  Overpriced and fetishized computer technology steals resources from print media, which are additionally saddled with inflated prices set by their multi-national publishers, particularly for scientific journals.  The crisis in scholarly publishing is another consequence of the profit motive, which has become the chief or sole criterion for viability, including at academic presses, thereby eliminating from consideration most scholarly books, which have a small readership.  Academic freedom shrinks when the supply of and access to knowledge (course books, specialized studies, news, and culture) is narrowed.

        A constant of privatization in services is that it raises costs while lowering quality and reducing access, a consequence of the profit imperative.  Profit is the surplus remaining after costs have been deducted from total income.  Privatized services often erect a formidable layer of bureaucracy to control their employees and limit "customers'"  access (burgeoning bureaucracy in the privatized "managed care" model of US health care is notorious), thus skimming off a large portion of income for this function.  And CEOs of privatized services typically demand inflated executive compensation (salary, privileges, stock options, etc.), which further drains the pool of available funding.  Most important, privatized services can be traded on global commodity markets, generating many times more profit than can be obtained through direct provision of the services themselves.  Provision of degraded services then becomes an afterthought.

Basics of corporatization

        Privatization is only one component in the neo-liberal ideology of corporatization and cannot be separated from it.  Neo-liberal ideology is codified in international trade agreements.  The agreement governing education is GATS, the General Agreement on Trade in Services.  Corporatization involves multiple kinds of assaults on the public domain--to which public universities belong.  Our experience with the Gilliland administration has familiarized us with many of these practices. 

        The public domain is where the public makes its home and is at home, and the eviction of the public from the public domain drives it into homelessness.  Human rights, such as the right to an education, typically are realized inside the public domain, which provides public and publicly funded services to most of the people in the world.  Thus the war on public education belongs to a wider war on the very idea of human rights.  The elites are trying to reduce or do away with public services, the public domain, and human rights because they stand in the way of their further accumulation of wealth and power.

        The goals of neo-liberal corporate policy are, first, to maximize short-term profits accruing to top managers or administrators and the business and investor interests that support them.  The "education market," a lucrative source of corporate profit, was valued at 2.2 trillion dollars in 1999.  However, because the bulk of the education sector cannot be made profitable, education will be terminated for the majority of the world's people.  The second goal is to maximize political control exercised by these managers, through replacing democratic institutions, such as faculty and shared governance, with top-down, adversarial, command-style administration.  The third goal is to seize ideological control of the doctrinal system (the media and education), in order to promote the corporate agenda and reproduce authoritarian structures.  Control of the media and education allows corporate elites to use them as tools of indoctrination to shape public discourse, public thinking, and public policy.  An example of corporate control uniting the media and education is Channel One, which invades classrooms with corporate advertising and news programs.

        Nevertheless, the ultimate neo-liberal goal is the elimination of the public domain, including public education.  Public social institutions that provide for people's health, education, employment benefits, unemployment support, retirement, transportation, communication, housing, utilities, food, even water, are to be terminated, and the costs borne solely by individuals.  Those who can't afford privatized services will have to go without them.

Examples of privatized education

        The ground for corporatization and privatization is prepared by neo-liberal government policy.  Public financing of higher education is slashed in order to starve universities into compliance with neo-liberal (and now also neo-con) dictates.  Reduced funding reduces public access and democratic oversight .  Academic programs are squeezed or downsized, new and replacement hiring is placed on hold, physical plant deteriorates, etc.  Tuition and fees are raised dramatically to compensate for manufactured shortfalls, and to shift the burden of funding from public sources onto private individuals.  As a result working class students increasingly are excluded from higher education.  The ending of affirmative action re-erects race and gender barriers as well.  Micro-management, stagnant salaries, increasing workloads, and biased treatment succeed in demoralizing the faculty, and thus the students as well.  Reduced public funding forces educational institutions to take the bait of corporate "partnerships" with strings attached.  Once hooked, schools and universities become tasty snacks at power lunches.

        Mindful of such possibilities, a New York Times editorial (July 15, 2001) concluded: "With public universities leaning more on private sources, both educators and legislators will need to be vigilant to preserve academic integrity.  But it will be a shame if the states allow this trend toward private fund-raising to progress too far.  The states must not abdicate their responsibility for supporting a sound public university system as an alternative to the private schools."

        As Beth Huber, a former UMKC part-time instructor, wrote, corporate culture stresses competition, amorality, the pecking order, absentee decision-making, exclusion of altruistic goals, dehumanization through commodification, preference for quantity over quality, and a blindered definition of knowledge (Huber).  It also trumpets as a virtue private gain at the expense of others.

        Propaganda issued by corporatized university administrations, produced by public relations specialists, and supported unflaggingly by the business press (this includes the mainstream media, both print and broadcast), is essential to the success of corporatization.

        Privatization can be full or partial.  Full privatization means completely removing a publicly owned good or service from the public domain by selling it to private investors.  Partial privatization sells off individual components.  When a public institution is fully remade as a private business, the entire institution becomes a commodity.  Capitalization and income typically come from public as well as private sources.  Edison Corporation, for example, could not survive without access to public funds (e.g. the Florida retirement system, public agencies of the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia, etc.).

        Examples of private for-profit educational institutions are University of Phoenix, an online company, and DeVry University, a bricks and mortar business.  Private for-profit institutions should not be confused with traditional private universities (e.g. University of Chicago) that are legally non-profit entities.

        Because private for-profit universities are commodities, investor commitment to them is short-term.  The sale of Ross University after only three years, by the investor group which Benno Schmidt led, is a prime example.  Novartis likewise pulled out of the UC Berkeley Department of Plant and Microbial Biology after a few years, leaving it with a deficit and an assistant professor denied tenure for having objected to the takeover. 

        Total privatization effectively terminates the professional status of faculty, as well as academic freedom, tenure, faculty governance, and due process.  From the employee's point of view, private corporations are dictatorships or oligarchies.  The majority of corporate employees are excluded in practice from the right to vote on institutional policy.  They also lack free speech on the job, the rights to organize and bargain collectively, a free press voicing their interests and dissenting from dictated policy, free assembly, due process, and fair grievance procedures.

        In a corporatized workplace only unionization is capable of establishing a counterforce to arbitrary rule and treatment.  Often the same is true of public universities with corporatized governance.  CUNY, where Benno Schmidt presides over the Board of Trustees, is a prime example.  Hence the necessary existence and activism of the CUNY Professional Staff Congress.

        A less complete version of privatization is exemplified by the Edison corporation.  Its biggest catch is the Philadelphia public school system, fifth largest in the US.  Edison does not own the schools, which remain nominally public.  But it runs the school system, and its policy encourages the award of lucrative contracts to outside businesses, ranging from construction to the provision of services.  Edison undoubtedly profits by these arrangements.

        Other examples of partial privatization are standardized tests.  They control the curriculum, since instructors are forced to teach to the externally designed exams, and they make big profits for private testing companies.  Standardized tests expropriate the faculty's responsibility to design the curriculum and to evaluate students according to its own professional standards.  By contrast, standardized online courses used in so-called distance education actually expropriate the faculty's intellectual property, whose ownership and control are transferred to the institution.  Labor costs in "virtual ed" are dramatically reduced by the use of untrained "course managers," and construction and maintenance costs vanish with the elimination of the campus and its entire physical plant.

        Both systems of standardization establish a regimented industrial model of education, where teaching is assembly-line production and students are "product", killing the joy of discovery and smothering the fires of creativity.  Undergraduate students enrolled in virtual courses study in isolation, suffer from depression, and have a high drop-out rate.  But in order to fool students into believing they are empowered subjects rather than commodified objects, corporate propaganda calls them "consumers" commanding an ever expanding range of choices.

        Privatization, even when partial, impacts the areas of labor relations, the quality and standards of instruction and research, and university governance.  Corporate governance seeks to minimize or eliminate the faculty's role, often through weakening or abolishing tenure, and restricts its access to information needed to make policy.  Even when tenure remains in force, faculty are treated as expendable ciphers, their salaries fall below the inflation rate and sometimes decline in absolute terms, administrative interference in hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions increases, and instruction and research are adversely affected, especially when outside forces play a role. 

        A participant in an AAUP sponsored conference on shared governance concluded: "'Applying corporate models to universities undermines quality by substituting quantifiable, business-driven measures for the judgments of faculty who have the expertise to make sound decisions for higher education.'" ("Governance Conference").

Privatization at UMKC and elsewhere

        The scientific and technical fields--life and health sciences in particular at UMKC--are potentially lucrative targets for outside investment.  In the US over several decades, corporations wielding intellectual property rights law have been imposing unacceptable conditions on grants that fund scientific research.  They reward researchers who provide results favorable to their products, particularly pharmaceuticals, and defund those who don't.  They also suppress the normal public exchange of scientific findings by declaring them to be secret proprietary information (Soley).

        Starting in the mid-1980s privatization was applied at UMKC in small but destructive ways.  Certain support services for faculty and students were turned into stand alone units required to make a profit.  To bring in revenue they started charging each department a fee for each service they provided.  Predictably, costs rose and quality plummeted.  The bookstore and physical plant are examples.  To bring in revenue, the bookstore used to mark up textbooks 25% above retail, forcing students to look elsewhere for course materials.

        Privatization also attempted to invade the UM system.  In early 2003 the system sought to redefine itself as a private institution, in order to avoid releasing its internal audits to the Kansas City Star.  The Star sued and won, on grounds that the university is a public entity.

        Outsourcing, that is, awarding contracts, and often monopoly franchises, to businesses outside the institution is another tactic of privatization.  A good example at UMKC is food services.  While UMKC cafeteria food has been mediocre at best, management by Sodexho has made it worse, and its poor quality has been generating student complaints since the start of the franchise.  In Spring 2001 the Faculty Advocate published a student expose of Sodexho (Turner), and one of the demands of this spring's Tent State University students was to terminate the university contract with this corporation. 

        Because it has a monopoly franchise, Sodexho can financially exploit food workers and students alike, by means of low wages, high prices, and non-refundable meal contracts.  Sodexho's profits from the prison industry, where it likewise has monopoly franchises, illustrate the predatory nature of privatization.  Similarly, Coca-Cola's monopoly franchise at KU has come under scrutiny (Pierotti), and poet Martin Espada--who spoke last year at the MPA conference co-sponsored by the AAUP--sent his KU honorarium to a labor union trying to organize Coke plants in Colombia.  "The New York City Council sent a fact-finding delegation to the country that says it found 179 human rights violations and nine murders at Coke plants" (International Labor).

        Monopoly franchises often involve the imposition of corporate logos and branding on schools.  Students who poke fun at branding (e.g. by wearing a Pepsi T-shirt at a Coke school) have been disciplined for "ingratitude to their benefactors."

        A major tactic of privatization/corporatization is the overuse and super-exploitation of casualized contingent part-time labor.  The status of full-time non-tenured instructors and graduate student assistants is only marginally better.  UMKC part-timer pay, for example, ranks at the bottom for research universities in the US.  As cheap workers they generate millions in revenue for their institutions.  At the same time, funds that should support instruction by full-time tenure-track faculty are instead shifted to other areas.  At high-powered research institutions they support lucrative research projects, or, as in the case of Gilliland's consultants, pure pork barrel.  The starving of instructional budgets is an expropriation from a core educational activity and, of course, weakens tenure by reducing the number of tenure-track faculty.

        Exploiting labor by minimizing labor costs (low pay) is the first measure taken to raise profit margins.  Raising prices is the second.  And cheapening the product (or service) is a close third.  Ignoring environmental consequences (usually by denying their existence) likewise raises profits by suppressing costs.  Cheapening of the educational "service" under the pretext of "efficiency," and corporatizing governance under the pretext of "accountability", cheats faculty, students, and the public (parents) alike.

        In short, the corporate educational agenda in the US pursues short-term profit, proprietary hoarding of knowledge, narrow vocational training, restricted intellectual choices in teaching, learning, and research, command-style administration, and suppression of dissent.  It replaces the public domain values of liberal education, critical thinking, and free and open inquiry; public sharing of knowledge and civic engagement; a broad familiarity with and appreciation for diverse cultures, and democratic governance.

Unequal education for the rich and the rest

        On the road to complete abolition of the public domain and public education is the transitional stage, which establishes a two-tiered educational system, one for the rich and the other for the rest.  A major long term goal of the war on human rights, the public domain, and education is to restore a regressive model of society, restratified according to rigid class boundaries defined by wealth. 

        The privileged class expects to attend one of the relatively few elite educational institutions with the highest quality (or highest profile) faculty, facilities, and programs.  Elite students will receive at least a semblance of a decent education, preparing them to occupy positions of power and influence, and elite faculty will generally continue to be treated like valued professionals.  On the other side of the class divide, to the degree they are corporatized, the large majority of institutions, like UMKC, which will serve that portion of non-elite students who can still afford a higher education, will become degraded institutions.  They will offer narrow and substandard vocational training for routinized dead end jobs, with restricted choices and scant opportunities for improvement or advancement, trapping students and faculty alike.  To the degree education is commodified, the student's right to quality education and the faculty's right to pursue a profession will be diminished, and standard educational goals like critical thinking, preparation for citizenship, and personal development will vanish.

        An observer from the third world writes: "The poor quality of general education and training in the United States, the product of a deep-rooted prejudice in favor of the private to the detriment of the public sector, is one of the main reasons for the profound crisis that U.S. society is currently going through" (Amin, 20-21).

Conclusion and strategies for deterrence

        Thus we can see that "privatization" is a euphemistic term for expropriation of public property at bargain basement prices, and the provision of inferior services at high prices using primarily exploited labor, in order to enrich top managers and investors.  Marketed under the slogans of "partnership" and "community involvement", privatization can fairly be called a hostile corporate takeover and plunder of the public domain.  It is the "partnership" of the shark with the shrimp, the final solution to the public education question.

        Nevertheless, in the final reckoning, education is not a commodity to be traded but a social process rooted in a cultural context.  As Stuart McAninch wrote four years ago, the faculty need to develop a positive ethical, social, and pedagogical agenda to demonstrate why the public has a stake in the faculty's fight for university governance, autonomy in the classroom, and professional status (McAninch).

        The confidence of the public in education can be preserved only when professional standards are maintained and supervised by professionally trained faculty dedicated to serving their students, the public good, and their professions.

        Privatization and corporatization can be forestalled by effective activism.  An outstanding example is provided by the California Faculty Association (CFA).  In 1999 the CFA held a series of public hearings across the state to develop a public higher education agenda with a non-corporate future.  This was the inspiration for our Education for Democracy Conference held at UMKC in 2001.  Even more dramatically, in 1997 CFA, along with other faculty, student, and community organizations, organized successfully with a six-week deadline to prevent the takeover of the entire 23 campus California State University system by four corporate giants: Microsoft, Fujitsu, GTE, and Hughes Electronics.

        Concerted action by the UMKC faculty convinced the Gilliland administration to resign.  Now, as in California eight years ago, the faculty, students, and community face the corporate backers of that administration directly.  Concerted action and the creation of broad alliances provide the opportunity to convince those forces to abandon their takeover plans.


        Faculty, students, and members of the community who wish to learn more about privatization and corporatization, both theory and practice, in global and local dimensions, can consult the following resources, accessible from the AAUP website.  Its old and new addresses are: ; and

        1) The Faculty Advocate , issues 1-18.  Each issue contains material on privatization and corporatization.  See especially: Janet Behrend, "Corporatization of Remedial Reading Programs" (#4) , Franklin W. Neff, "Potential Consequences of International Trade Agreements for Higher Education" (#4) , Patricia P. Brodsky, "Shrunken Heads: The Humanities under the Corporate Model" (#6) , Richard Moser, "Corporatization, Its Discontents and the Renewal of Academic Citizenship" (#8) , Gary Zabel. "The 'Corporatization"'of Higher Education" (#10) , Ray Pierotti, "The  Corporatization of Academic Science" (#11) , David Brodsky, "The War on Public Education in Europe" (#14) .

        2) 17 articles from the conference "Education for Democracy: Fighting the Corporate Takeover", published in the online journal Workplace:

        3) David Brodsky's comprehensive report "The Broad Perspective of Academic Freedom,"

Sources cited

Amin, Samir.  "Confronting the Empire."  Monthly Review (July-August 2003): 15-22.

"Governance Conference Brings Together Faculty and Administrators."  ASC Statelines 7.4. (Winter 2000).

Huber, Beth.  "Homogenizing the Curriculum: Manufacturing the Standardized Student."

International Labor Communications Association, March 30, 2005;

McAninch, Stuart A.  "The Struggle for Faculty Governance: its Ethical, Social, and Pedagogical Significance."

Pierotti, Raymond.  "The Morale of Faculty, Students, and Staff under a Corporate Model: The Case of the University of

Schiffrin, Andre.  "The Business of Books."  Interview by David Barsamian.  Z Magazine 16.9 (September 2003): 36-42.

Soley, Lawrence C.  Leasing the Ivory Tower: The Corporate Takeover of Academia.  Boston: South End P, 1995.

Turner, Chris.  "UMKC Student Group Plans Boycott of Sodexho-Marriott."  Faculty Advocate 1.3 (Feb. 2001).

System President's Meeting with AAUP Chapter Unprecedented

        On March 18 UM System President Elson Floyd met with members of the UMKC AAUP chapter for an informal question and answer session that is surely unprecedented at UMKC, and probably extremely rare anywhere.  The relaxed but lively meeting, which lasted an hour and a half, ranged over a broad spectrum of faculty concerns, and as President Floyd laughingly remarked, we didn't make it easy for him.

Chancellor search focus of discussion

        Faculty had many questions about the search for a chancellor, which had just begun.  The questions ranged from concerns about the final makeup of the search committee to the ultimate responsibility for a decision.  There was concern that several units were not represented on the committee, particularly SBS, which could fairly be said to have suffered most under the previous administration.  Floyd said that he had not chosen the members by unit, but had been at pains to include a wide variety of faculty ranks as well as members of other constituencies such as students and the community.  He reminded us that the final committee had a majority of faculty members: 11 out of 21.

        When asked about the role and limitations of the search firm chosen to aid the committee, Jan Greewood and Associates, whom the President had also used in the chancellor search at UM-Rolla, Floyd's answer was plain: the search firm is a conduit, not a screener.  The committee must make the decision on finalists.  It will then send an unranked short list of three candidates (though he admitted this number is not set in stone, and could also be four or five) to the President.  Floyd also said that he does not intend to micromanage.  Except for a couple of meetings to help get the process started, he will not be meeting with the committee, nor does he intend to submit names or make recommendations himself.  Faculty emphasized that the candidates' first priorty must be academics and research, and insisted that focus and vision must come from the faculty, not be imposed from above.  Floyd replied that a candidate who is not interested in research and graduate education would not be acceptable to him.


        There were many questions concerning continuity in the campus administration--for example, whether a new chancellor could appoint his or her own staff.  Floyd replied that several posts will be vacated soon in any case--Bill French is retiring before September 1, and the Provost's position will be open in a year.  The chancellor could review this position as well as all dean positions; he or she should meet early on with the faculty of each unit.  Floyd indicated that he will probably eliminate some positions, but that this process will not be completed before the new chancellor arrives.  A lengthy discussion followed about administrative structure and lines of responsibility.  There was broad agreement that the current administration is too large and absorbs too much money.  Titles had proliferated and been inflated, and so had salaries.  There was also dissatisfaction that little had changed in the administration, except that the chancellor had gone.

Diversity and the Community

        Stuart McAninch mentioned that there is strong faculty support for the Urban Institute, but worried about the composition of the Steering Committee.  The "community" members were all business people, with no non-elite members, teachers, or community activists.  McAninch pointed out that UMKC serves primarily the working class, not the elites whose children do not attend UMKC.  Another faculty member proposed that the teaching of diversity, including the concepts of race, ethnicity, gender, and class, be made a graduation requirement. President Floyd agreed that we need to look carefully at our definition of "community," including looking east of Troost.  He also agreed with our assessment that the faculty was very one-sided in terms of gender and race, but pointed out that hiring was a faculty prerogative, and that we must take the initiative and work on this problem ourselves.  He noted that the UM system in general has a bad record for diversity.  (Several weeks after this meeting, President Floyd sent a memo to the University Community strongly supporting the hiring of minorities and pledging support for diversity.)

Other issues

        Other issues raised included post-tenure review, the loss of tenure lines, and the status of SBS.  One unit changed its tenure requirements in the middle of a candidate's probationary period, ultimately leading to that person going off the tenure track, while a tenured colleague in the same unit was forced out because of a similar change of requirements.  Faculty expressed the opinion that post-tenure review should be abolished, and it was pointed out that since the policy had been imposed by a previous president, it could be rescinded by a president.  There was some troublesome discussion of SBS, with the implication that its identity, functions and existence were still matters of debate.  Faculty urged President Floyd to communicate with the members of that school.

        There was universal agreement that the meeting with President Floyd had been productive, and that we would like to host similar meetings in the future.

Chancellor Search Underway: Closed Search Raises Concerns

by Patricia Brodsky

        Amidst the euphoria engendered by the votes of no confidence and Chancellor Gilliland's resignation in December, we all knew that the hard part was yet to come.  We would need to keep the pressure on to move the culture of this campus toward transparency and faculty empowerment, and we would need to choose a new administration.

        The initial process was promising.  Individual faculty were invited to submit to the Faculty Senate nominations both for membership on a search committee and for chairmanship of that committee.  The Senate received sixty-seven names; ultimately a slate of twenty-one, including alternates, was sent to President Floyd.  Of these he chose nine, while substituting two faculty names for two recommended by the Senate.  The other members include students, administrators and the community.  The AAUP is represented on the committee by chair David Atkinson and Chapter members Bruce Bubacz and Loyce Caruthers.  All the members deserve our thanks for their willingness to engage in this enormously important and time-consuming project.  The membership list is printed below.

        The presence of so many faculty members is a reassuring change from past search committees.  Likewise the spread of representation within the University is far greater than in previous years; the committee that brought us Chancellor Gilliland, for example, had no members from the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest unit on campus.  However the fact that four units are not represented is cause for serious concern.  Biological Sciences, Libraries, and Engineering have no members, and Nursing is not represented by a fulltime faculty member.

        The committee is being aided by the search firm Jan Greenwood and Associates.  Its function is to coordinate the search, do a coarse preliminary filtering, and handle the masses of paperwork involved in a national search.  President Floyd stated during his meeting with the AAUP on March 18 that the search firm is a conduit, not a screener.  The decision will rest with the committee.  Ads have gone out to the Chronicle of Higher Education and other standard venues, and the committee foresees the close of applications by May 1 and a target date for a hire of September 1.  Public forums were set for April 20, at which faculty and others were invited to express their selection criteria for a chancellor.

        In conversations with President Floyd faculty have made it clear that it is of the utmost importance that this search be carried out with as much transparency and faculty involvement as possible, particularly given our recent history.  The reestablishment of trust in the governance process is one of our main goals, and the University cannot afford even a hint that it is returning to the "bad old days" of secrecy and top-down decision making.  Floyd indicated he understood.
        But serious problems have arisen.  At a recent meeting the search committee voted to conduct a closed search, that is, there will be no open campus interviews, and no opportunity for faculty and others to meet, confront, question and evaluate the candidates.  The rationale given by the search firm and apparently supported by President Floyd is that in order to attract the best candidates, which they define as sitting presidents and provosts, confidentiality must be maintained throughout the process.  According to Chairman Atkinson, the committee will be doing a thorough job of contacting colleagues of the candidates, so there will be "no surprises."  Well, no, not for the committee.  But if the faculty at large has no chance to judge, everything is going to be a surprise to the rest of us.

        Chairman Atkinson has said that the search might be opened up at the end, if the final candidates have no objections.  This is not good enough.  Our votes of no confidence, our insistence on the AAUP principle of faculty governance, become meaningless if the openness of the process and the participation of the faculty as a whole depend on the whim of a candidate.  This is a terrible precedent, and it sends the signal that we can be ignored, as previously.  In an effort to urge the committee to reverse itself on this decision, I have spoken before the Senate and the Arts and Sciences faculty.  My argument is printed below.

Chancellor Search Committee Members

David Atkinson, Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor, College of Arts and Sciences (Chair)

David Achtenberg, Associate Professor, School of Law

Lee Bolman, Marion Bloch Professor of Leadership, Business and Public Administration, Bloch School of Business & Public

Bruce Bubacz, Distinguished Teaching Professor in Philosophy, College of Arts & Sciences

Loyce Caruthers, Assistant Professor of Education, School of Education

Woody Cozad, UMKC Trustee, former Curator and Attorney for Morrison & Hecker, L.L.P.

Burton Dunbar, Professor of Art & Art History and Chair of the Art Department, College of Arts & Sciences

David Eick, Curators' Professor and Department Chair in Oral Biology, School of Dentistry

Marjorie Fonza, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Geoff Gerling, President, Student Government Association

Carol Grimaldi, Executive Director, Brush Creek Community Partners

Kathleen Kilway, Associate Professor of Chemistry, College of Arts & Sciences

Kelly Limpic, President, UMKC Staff Council and Senior Human Resource Specialist, Human Resources Department

Trish Marken, Professor of Pharmacy and Division Chair, School of Pharmacy

Freda Mendez Smith, Vice President for Diversity and Minority Alumni, UMKC Alumni Association Board

Leo Morton, UMKC Trustee and Senior Vice President & CAO, Aquila, Inc.

Christopher Papasian, Associate Professor and Chair of the Basic Medical Science Department, School of Medicine

Randy Pembrook, Dean, UMKC Conservatory of Music

Sarah Peters, President, Conservatory Student Association

Mel Tyler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Alan Weber, President, UMKC Alumni Association and President, Marketing Analytics Group

Statement on the Chancellor's Search Process Presented to the Faculty Senate, April 5, 2005

by Patricia Brodsky

        I want to address several issues.  First is the specious argument that the identity of candidates must be kept secret to protect them.  When faculty apply for jobs, we don't get these privileges; everything is public.  And so should it be for administrators, especially at a public university.  Administrative candidates should have to abide by the same rules.

        Second is the equally specious argument that the quality of the candidates depends on secrecy.  The most qualified and best candidates are ones who are capable of undergoing public scrutiny, questioning and debate to evaluate their qualifications.  Those who cannot or will not do this are by definition not the kind of candidates we want.

        Thus the entire process should be transparent, and open to the faculty as a whole.  At the very least , however, there must be open campus interviews for the finalists. 

        Given the recent history of interference with faculty governance on this campus, the circumstances that led to seven votes of no confidence, and the clear intention of the faculty as a whole to take an active role in any future decisions on administrative hirings, a totally closed search--that is, one in which the university community as a whole had no opportunity to meet and question at least a short list of candidates--would be regarded as a betrayal.

        It is generally acknowledged that a major goal is to reestablish both trust and faculty governance on this campus.  To now close the search for a chancellor and prevent direct faculty participation would put us back where we were before the votes of no confidence.  It does not make sense to alienate the faculty as a whole by ignoring their good will, insight, expertise and energy in making this important choice.  Finally, a closed search would be an inauspicious beginning for any candidate hired in this fashion, without the participation of the whole faculty.

        A totally closed search is unacceptable.  The opinion of the faculty as a whole must be decisive.  The AAUP therefore calls on the committee to reverse its decision and to commit itself to a search that directly involves the faculty as a whole, preferably throughout the process, but at the very least at the short-list stage.

MO AAUP Conference Annual Meeting Discusses State Defunding of Higher Education

        On March 5 three chapter members, Stuart McAninch, Pat Brodsky, and David Brodsky, attended the annual meeting of the Missouri Conference of the AAUP in Columbia.  Five other institutions around the state were represented: MU, Truman State, Lincoln University, Westminster College, and SMSU.

        A main focus of discussion was funding for education in Missouri, including the ins and outs of Governor Blunt's budget.  In his annual report, Missouri Conference President John Harms expressed the fear that without appropriate state support, non-affluent students will simply be priced out of higher education (see his article "The Structural Basis of Missouri's Higher Education Crisis," Faculty Advocate, Feb. 2005 ).  Harms also emphasized the need for making common cause with students and the public: "If we don't speak up, we're walking bullseyes."

        At present, funding for K-12 is built into the state constitution, so that when there are cuts, higher education takes the biggest hit.  Thus we find ourselves in the grotesque position of competing for scarce dollars with elementary and high school education.  (Note: in April State Representative Beth Low of the 39th District, which includes UMKC, told us about HB 742.  Passed out of committee but not scheduled to reach the floor this year, this legislation would change the funding basis of higher education to a voucher system, which would result in even less state support.)

        The first guest speaker was Otto Fajen, legislative director of the Missouri NEA.  Fajen's decade-long familiarity with the Missouri legislature has given him keen insights into its inner workings.   His talk covered a wide range of topics of importance to Missouri educators.  Much threatening legislation has been proposed or discussed in this session, including bills on the teaching of creationism, the abolition of tenure (HB 432, which has been formally withdrawn), and punitive funding bills relating to higher education.  For example, SB 231, a not too subtle attack on higher education, would have made its funding merely a line-item in the budget, preventing the transfer of funds to needed areas and establishing a purposely cumbersome process for raising tuition.  Whether or not these bills pass--and we hope none of them do--our vigilance is required in the climate of intensified hostility towards higher education.

        Fajen also pointed out the irrationality of some aspects of the Blunt budget.  The Governor has called for a $632 million cut in Medicaid spending.  But if Medicaid is cut, Missouri loses federal funds attached to that program.  In the past the state    budget had been patched together with tobacco settlement money and other one-time funds.  But because they are no longer availble, Blunt and the legislature must find other sources--including education and healthcare.

        Resistance to cuts is occuring on a number of fronts.  The state of Missouri is currently being sued for unfair distribution of funds per student in poorer districts.  Suggestions have been made to modernize the tax codes; Missourians for Tax Justice are working to establish a progressive income tax.  The suggestion has been made to consolidate K-12 and higher education under a single state board of education, or to house both in a single department of education with two components.  Success in either scenario would depend on increased cooperation between K-12 and higher education in serving the cause of all education in the state.  At present, according to Fajen, the two constituencies simply don't talk to one another.  Like Harms, Fajen urged progressive educators to speak to the public at the level of values: we can't let the right-wing claim a monopoly on ethical discussion.  He also urged that more cooperation is necessary between the NEA and the AAUP, since we share many goals.

        The second guest speaker of the day was Tom Guild, Chair of the Assembly of State Conferences of the national AAUP.  Guild spoke about threats and trends in the academy around the nation.  He sounded a warning against TABOR--the Taxpayer Bill of Rights--which has succeeded in destroying the public sector in Colorado, where higher education has suffered the most.  Some of the national trends he mentioned include the "president as CEO" syndrome and the drastic rise in the percentage of total costs covered by tuition.

        Guild also emphasized the necessity for faculty to insist on a dominant role in campus governance.  Search committees, he said, must be created through direct faculty election, not e.g. via a Senate list.  Faculty participation on a grievance board is crucial in strengthening due process.  Post-tenure review is also a troublesome issue.  Where post-tenure review exists, Guild said, it must be transformed into a faculty support system and used to promote faculty development.  It should not become a punitive tool or a strategy to weaken tenure, and faculty should have the right to defend their record before a faculty committee.  Unfortunately, many administrations use PTR as a device to control and intimidate faculty; as a means to eviscerate tenure; as a tool of political retaliation; and as a way to restrict speech on and off campus.  Guild ended his talk by saluting the work of local chapters in protecting faculty rights.

        During the business meeting the members unanimously supported the creation of a leadership award in honor of former Conference President David Gruber, who is in the final stages of cancer.  Stuart McAninch was subsequently reelected to the post of At-Large Member of the state Executive Committee.  And the Conference also approved unanimously a resolution drafted by David Brodsky in support of the academic freedom and tenure of Professor Ward Churchill, currently under siege at the University of Colorado (see below for full text).

The Political Show Trial of Ward Churchill

by David Brodsky

        The Ward Churchill case is significant in two ways.  It signals an intensified nationwide assault on academic freedom and tenure.  And it announces a renewed right-wing campaign to remove and exclude from academia the already quite marginal presence of left of center faculty and programs, including ethnic, women's, queer, and cultural studies. 

        Silencing the left voice in US society as a whole was the explicit goal of the McCarthy period purges, which successfully enforced tacit censorship for several decades.  The purges also succeeded in intimidating liberal and centrist opinion into self-censorship, marked by contorted accommodations to the ruling ideology.  Our current neo-McCarthyist demagogy aims to enforce a similar ideological hegemony.

        In early March, in a speech at the University of Hawaii, Churchill gave "a rousing endorsement of academic freedom.  'I never set out to be a poster boy of academic freedom.  They selected me.  And I'm going to stand on the principle.  I'm going to stand on the issue because to give a inch is to give away something that we cannot afford to lose, and when I say "we" I mean all of us in the academy.  Whatever your interest is in the academy, if you let this one go down you've lost it all'" (Chronicle of Higher Education , March 4, 2005, p. A48)

        The current firestorm surrounding Churchill began when he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in New York state.  In December 2004 a right-wing professor at Hamilton circulated on the internet an essay Churchill had published in early 2002 about the 9/11 attacks.  As Churchill clarified in a January 31, 2005 statement, his essay, answering the question "why they hate us", argued that "if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned.  I have never said that people 'should' engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy" (Ward Churchill Answers the Hate-Mongers & Critics! )

        Churchill's essay was picked up by Bill O'Reilly, who ideologically mauled the professor on his syndicated talk show and told his audience to write Hamilton to protest Churchill's appearance.  O'Reilly's denunciation predictably ignited threats of violence against Churchill, who eventually received over one hundred death threats.  This is the same treatment O'Reilly applied to Professor Sami al-Arian shortly after 9/11.  The rest of the mass media obediently joined the hunt.

        Caving in to rightwing pressure, Hamilton College changed the format of Churchill's talk from lecture to roundtable discussion.  Then, using the pretext of the risk to Churchill's safety--a risk carefully augmented by the kangaroo court of the mass media--Hamilton eventually retracted the invitation altogether.  Several years earlier, compromised personal safety manufactured by the right-wing served as the pretext to illegally ban Professor Sami al-Arian from his own campus for nearly two years.

        In researching the role of right-wing political networks, Churchill's colleague, Emma Perez, Chair of Ethnic Studies at University of Colorado, made some interesting discoveries.  "CU-Boulder has likely been made their 'test case,' their break-the-mould moment in a national strategy.  Their local resources and troops (thinktanks, legislative, rank-and-file followers) are already fully mobilized and their national resources are mobilizing in our direction (if not already mobilized), and the infrastructure they already have here is formidable." ("Ward Churchill is Neocon Test Case for Academic Purges," 2/15/05; )

        Perez continues: "The Colorado governor, Bill Owens, is no ordinary Republican governor.  He is an activist leader in their battle for higher education through his role in ACTA (American Council of Trustees and Alumni)....  Governor Owens is especially active in ACTA's 'Governors Project'." (Ibid).

        ACTA was co-founded by Lynne Cheney, Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities under Reagan and the wife of Dick Cheney.  Soon after 9/11 ACTA attempted to establish a blacklist of over one hundred left of center academics.  Its McCarthyist "loyalty test" held up 9/11 as a sacred icon of martyrdom, insufficient obeisiance to which generated accusations of "treason."  The blacklist failed when scores of other academics, many of whom questioned the official story of how 9/11 happened and objected to the reactionary agendas to which it was harnessed, asked to be added to the tally of "traitors."

        Colorado Governor Owens, writes Perez, "has already hosted an ACTA-led conference in CO for state trustees, probably for training them (wouldn't be surprised if some of our regents aren't in this same loop)....  Also leading in this 'Governors Project' is Pataki in NY--no doubt connected with the Hamilton College incident that started all of this."

        Following Churchill's "trial by media" ("Open Letter", see below), reprisals within academe came swiftly and began to ramify, fulfilling right-wing expectations.  Churchill was forced to step down as Chair of the CU Ethnic Studies Program (he tendered his resignation on January 31, 2005), and numerous speaking engagements were cancelled, including at his own campus.  The first victim of right-wing "collateral damage" was Professor Nancy Sorbkin Rabinowitz, director of Hamilton College's Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society, and Culture, which had originally invited Churchill to speak there.  Rabinowitz was dismissed as Kirkland's director (John J. Simon, "Notes from the Editors, Monthly Review, 56.11 [April 2005]: 64).  After Elizabeth Hoffman, President of the University of Colorado, publicly stated on March 3 "that she feared a 'new McCarthyism' was responsible for the uproar over Ward Churchill's essay" (Newsday, March 5, 2005;,0,899315.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork), she was forced into resigning five days later (New York Times , March 8, 2005, National Report A14).

        The organized right is pursuing a two-phase strategy against Churchill.  The first phase, a neo-con frontal attack on his academic freedom and tenure based on objections to his politics, is intended to severely narrow the range of critical discourse in academia and US society.  An AP story published in Newsday (op cit) explained that Churchill was being disciplined for "exceeding the boundaries of academic freedom."  Or, in the words of the CU Chancellor, whose office conducted a "preliminary review" by hunting for heresy in Churchill's writings and public utterances, "did certain statements by Professor Churchill exceed the boundaries of protected speech?" ("Statement By Chancellor Phil DiStefano," March 24, 2005;

        Largely due to strong support for Churchill's academic freedom by many of his colleagues in Colorado and faculty elsewhere, the campaign of public vilification (akin to saturation bombing) failed to remove him from his position.  Thus the Chancellor's committee was forced to conclude that Churchill's political views were protected speech and illegitimate grounds for terminating him.  But the noise of bombardment, by the media, elected officials, regents, administrators, and others firmly established the perception of Churchill as an "enemy" to be eradicated.  Support statements for Churchill were largely excluded from the mass media, which have generally enforced an embargo of left opinion for several decades.  Media noise aimed to firmly implant the image of Churchill as "unamerican," among the broader public, university authorities, and his own colleagues.

        The second phase of the inquisition, an investigation of "allegations of research misconduct..., including plagiarism, fabrication, and misuse of others' work," has been left to a faculty body, the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct.  Since the Chancellor had repeatedly expressed his strong personal antipathy to Churchill, not surprisingly the Chancellor's committee ruled that "allegations of research misconduct" are not "frivolous" ("Statement," op cit).  The scholarly credentials of the Chancellor's committee (which included, besides the chancellor, two deans) to make even this preliminary judgment, however, have not been established.  Likewise, the faculty Standing Committee, conveniently, contains not a single member from the Humanities or the Social Sciences, those scholars who are best equipped to recognize political bias ("frivolity") in the allegations against Churchill ("Standing Committee on Research Misconduct: Membership" (

        Most damaging, the Chancellor's committee report has asked the faculty Standing Committee "to inquire into whether Professor Churchill committed research misconduct by misrepresenting himself as an American Indian to gain credibility and authority for his work" (DiStefano, op cit).  This charge, based on "blood quantum" and "enrolled membership in a tribe," is bogus, despite its legal standing, because it excludes countless numbers of Native Americans from public recognition of their identity.  Famous "non-enrolled" historical figures include Crazy Horse, Geronimo, and Chief Joseph (H. Mathew Barkhausen III, "In Defense of Ward Churchill: A Legacy of Scapegoat-Ism";  A petition in defense of Churchill addressed to the Governor, Legislature, and Board of Regents refers to the "blood quantum" as a standard imposed by "modern day eugenicists" (

        The spurious and grossly biased nature of these inquisitorial proceedings, which violate Churchill's academic freedom, is also revealed by their time-tested reliance on the principle of guilt by association, the tactical foundation of McCarthy era purges.  In Churchill's case, not association with "suspect individuals or groups" but the close association of allegations of "research misconduct" with his "suspect politics" is the unchallenged basis for pursuing the inquisition.

        The long "Report on Conclusion of Preliminary Review in the Matter of Professor Ward Churchill" establishes guilt by association--controversial content and lack of professional integrity--as a matter of principle.  It states: "the matters reviewed here arose as a result of statements by Professor Churchill protected by the First Amendment ...   The fact that the controversial subject matter of speech may be constitutionally protected does not insulate it from conforming to minimum standards of professional integrity, including standards for academic research" (Op cit).

        These standards are not specified.  Three of the examples cited alleging lack of integrity concern politically loaded issues (two concern Native American identity) and could be politically motivated.  Claims of wilfull misrepresentation are useful in discrediting an opponent, particularly one whose identity as a Native American is likewise under challenge.

        The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure notes that judgments of unfitness are limited to the criteria of "incompetence" and "moral turpitude" (AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, 9th ed., p. 4).  The 1970 commentary on the 1940 statement adds that "extramural utterances rarely bear upon the faculty member's fitness for the position" (p. 6).  And it defines "moral turpitude" as "behavior that would evoke condemnation by the academic community generally" (p. 7).  In a 1964 statement, the phrase "weighty evidence of unfitness" clarifies the 1940 statement about dismissal on account on extramural utterances (p. 32).

        The guilt by association principle enunciated in the Colorado Chancellor's Report also implies that academic freedom (at University of Colorado) is narrower than constitutionally protected speech, an intepretation which the Supreme Court rejected in 1967.  It wrote that "[academic] freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom" (AAUP Policy Documents and Reports , 9th ed., p. 5).

        The report quotes (and condemns) four utterances by Churchill before concluding that all of his words are protected speech (  There is no pretense of presenting the facts in a disinterested and analytical manner.  While Churchill's words are immaterial, because they represent protected speech, their presence in the report reinforces the connection between his politics and alleged research misconduct.  The singling out and cataloguing of controversial passages in itself constitutes a crude political assault on his academic freedom.

        Thus the assertion that the process has now been "depoliticized" because a faculty committee is in charge of the investigation is a gigantic falsehood.  The allegations of research misconduct are purely instrumental to achieving right-wing political goals.  The faculty, as in the McCarthy period, is being carefully prepared and channelled into playing the executioner of its own colleagues.

        If the faculty committee, nevertheless, were to find in Churchill's favor, it would deserve congratulations for standing up to the purge.  But the most legitimate decision it could make would be to declare the entire inquisition to be utterly without merit.  That would be a ringing defense and vindication of academic freedom.  And of the rights and duties of left of center academics, and, indeed, of all public intellectuals, to continue using their critical faculties to make informed and sharp judgments about their own society.

AAUP Missouri Conference resolution on Ward Churchill, March 5, 2005

        "Whereas the most serious attacks on Professor Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado, by government officials and the mass media in Colorado and throughout the nation, constitute assaults on his academic freedom and his tenured position, as well as on his discipline, his colleagues, and his university, and on academic freedom, the institution of tenure, and the academic profession as a whole:

        Resolved, that the 2005 annual meeting of the Missouri Conference of the AAUP urge the national organization of AAUP, the Association of State Conferences, and all local chapters and individual state conferences, to actively and publicly show their uncompromising and unequivocal support for Professor Ward Churchill's academic freedom and the tenure which protects it; for example, through public statements in the local and national media, messages to the Governor and legislature of Colorado and the administration of the University of Colorado, and through publicizing resolutions of support; and, further, to disseminate this resolution as widely and rapidly as possible to the AAUP membership, for example, through an e-mail alert, which includes contact information for recipients of AAUP messages."

        A sample message to the Governor, Regents, and President of the University, read as follows: "I fully and unequivocally support Ward Churchill's academic freedom and the tenure which protects it.  I oppose the campaign of vilification against him and urge: 1) that he be retained in his present position at his current rank; 2) that the state of Colorado restore a high level of public funding to public education, including higher education; and 3) that the Governor of Colorado, the Colorado General Assembly, the Regents of the University of Colorado, and the administration and faculty of the University of Colorado make public statements strongly affirming academic freedom and the institution of tenure which supports it, both in general and with specific reference to Professor Churchill."

Open Letter From Concerned Academics, March 2, 2005

Defend Dissent and Critical Thinking on Campus

        (This "Open Letter" was circuated widely on the internet, and is available on a number of websites).

        We call on all those who teach and research at colleges and universities to raise their voices in opposition to this inquisition.  Sign and act on this open letter.  Circulate it widely.  Inform the media.

        As an immediate step, we call on our colleagues to pass emergency resolutions in faculty and professional associations and send them to the University of Colorado Board of Regents.  We offer the following as a template for such resolutions:

        Resolved, that the attempt, escalated by government authority, to fire Ward Churchill and the trial by media which he is undergoing amount to a serious assault on dissent, critical inquiry, and academic freedom, and a heightening of the repressive atmosphere in American society overall.  This attack is intolerable and must stop now.  The precedents already set in this case "that a professor can be publicly pilloried and threatened with dismissal for what he writes" must not be allowed to stand.  The University of Colorado Board of Regents must drop any effort to fire Churchill, cease its spurious investigation into his body of work and repudiate its actions up to now; and all colleges and universities must reaffirm, in word and deed, their commitment to defend critical thinking.

        The past month has witnessed a chilling turn in American political and intellectual life.  Ward Churchill, a tenured professor and former chair of the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Colorado, has been made the object of an unprecedented nationwide attack for an essay he wrote three years ago.  Two governors, including the governor of Colorado, have called for his firing.  The national and local media have not only misrepresented his work and views, but have increasingly vilified and slandered Ward Churchill himself.  Some of Churchill's speaking engagements have been cancelled.  Death threats have been made against him.  In response, the University of Colorado Board of Regents not only "apologized" for Churchill's remarks "itself an utterly gratuitous and inappropriate action" but initiated an investigation into his entire body of work to search for mistakes and supposed evidence of "fraud."  During the week of March 7, the Board of Regents will conclude its 30-day review of all of Churchill's writings and statements.

        One must go back to the "scoundrel time" of the McCarthy years to find anything even close to this.  And now, as an unmistakable sign of what this portends, just a week ago the University of Colorado at Boulder announced an investigation into campus records to make sure that every faculty member has actually signed his or her state-required loyalty oath!

        All this is intolerable and must be reversed--immediately.

        To be clear: the issues here have nothing to do with the quality of Ward Churchill's scholarship or his professional credentials.  However one views his choice of words or specific arguments, he is being put in the dock solely for his radical critique of U.S. history and present-day policy in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001.  Apparently, 9/11 is now the third rail of American intellectual life: to critically probe into its causes and to interrogate the international role of the United States is treated as heresy; those inquiring can be denied forums, careers, and even personal safety.  And now Churchill's persecutors have gone further, repeatedly ridiculing his scholarly argumentation that the United States committed genocide against the indigenous people of this continent, and that the FBI systematically attempted to disrupt and destroy the movements and leaders of the 1960s.  Rather than debate or disprove such theses, Churchill's attackers attempt to render them beyond the pale of respectable discourse.  Through all this, new ground rules are being established: any criticism or even questioning of the institutional foundations of the United States, or of the motives and interests behind its policies, will be treated as essentially treasonous.  Left unopposed, this trajectory will lead to a situation of uncontested indoctrination enforced by the state.

        The Churchill case is not an isolated incident but a concentrated example of a well-orchestrated campaign launched in the name of  "academic freedom" and "balance" which in fact aims to purge the universities of more radical thinkers and oppositional thought generally, and to create a climate of intimidation.  While the right-wing claim that the universities are "left-wing dictatorships" is specious beyond belief, it is unfortunately true that the campus remains one of the few surviving refuges of critical thinking and dissent in this country.  This is something to defend and strengthen.

        It would be hard to overstate the serious nature of what has already happened, let alone what it would mean should the Regents fire Churchill.  If this assault on academe succeeds, the consequences for American society as a whole will be nothing short of disastrous.

        The response from the academic world has thus far fallen short of what is required.  Voices have been raised in opposition, but many have been intimidated.  What is needed is an outpouring of faculty resolutions condemning this witch-hunt. Teach-ins.  Protests.

        We propose that emergency faculty resolutions be passed and sent to the University of Colorado Board of Regents (secretary: , cc: and major media outlets.  We further propose that if the Colorado authorities continue their persecution of Churchill, we mount major nationally coordinated protests on campuses all over America--and internationally-- as soon as possible, and that we begin to join efforts to reverse this dangerous direction in American political and intellectual life.

        The hour is very late; this case is nothing less than a watershed. We must act, and act now.

Not just Process but "Substantive Issues":
Amy McAninch Protests her Alma Mater's Sabotage of Academic Freedom

        Amy McAninch, an alumna of Hamilton College, a faculty member at Rockhurst University, and an AAUP activist, responded to a letter addressed to Hamilton alumni on the college's handling of the Churchill case.  She raised the questions not only of academic freedom but also of Churchill's message, which was being distorted and suppressed.

        The following letter, dated March 23, 2005, was sent to Hamilton alumni by Robert L. Simon, Professor of Philosophy at the College.

        "The last few months have seen Hamilton go through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.  Many alumni, parents and friends of the College have contacted Hamilton to express their concerns about the controversies surrounding Susan Rosenberg and Ward Churchill.  Their viewpoints are varied and merit serious consideration, and they reflect perspectives shared by many on campus.  While it is important for the College to sponsor controversial speakers, all parties seem to agree that speakers invited to our campus should promote reasoned academic discourse.

        I write to assure you that the College is re-assessing the process that resulted in these invitations, and that the practice of providing undergraduates with an education of the highest quality is alive and well at Hamilton.  For example, there has been wide ranging debate, both formal and informal, among students, in classes, at special panels and in The Spectator, on the role and limits of academic freedom and the nature of academic responsibility.  The debate has been intense and of real intellectual quality.  I am optimistic that good things will come of it.

        Most important, the faculty continues to engage in those activities that we hope all of you found valuable during your days here as students.  Good teachers continue to work with fine students in class and in independent research.  Students continue to engage in the arts, theatre, athletics and countless other activities of worth.  Important ideas are discussed and examined in and out of class.  Students continue to win national awards and fellowships.  Faculty members are sought out for their scholarship by prestigious institutions and segments of the media to share their expertise.  These activities will help Hamilton reclaim the national spotlight in a positive way.

        Your support is vital if Hamilton is to continue to succeed at the high levels we have all come to expect and appreciate.  Withholding support from the College affects everyone on the Hill, including students who could not be here without scholarship support and faculty and staff who are deeply committed to this institution.  While many, both on and off campus, are frustrated with recent events, I assure you that the principal values for which a Hamilton education has always stood remain in place.  I urge you to help make the College better through your continued engagement and financial support."

        Amy McAninch responded as follows:

        "Dear Bob:  As a Kirkland grad (K '78), I received a copy of your March 23 letter to alumni regarding recent events on campus.  I have followed the Ward Churchill incident closely because I am currently a college professor (in the field of Educational Theory) and an active member of the AAUP.  I was deeply disturbed by your letter and the other correspondence I have received (from the Student Government group, from President Stewart) which have generally assumed an apologetic and defensive tone: 'don't worry....  we haven't lost our minds....  we are still the same place.'  I have gone back and read Ward Churchill's original statement and you all are right to find it inflammatory and flippant.  But nowhere in all the correspondence from the college has there been any indication that the substance of his argument is worthy of examination.  Indeed, other social critics have made similar arguments, from Noam Chomsky to Franz Fanon.  It is healthy for the college to debate freedom of speech, but there also seems to be a resistance to even considering the possibility that Churchill may be raising questions worthy of discussion.  The focus of the debate on campus has been about anything but the substantive issue he poses: are elements of U.S. foreign policy and the practices of U.S. corporations responsible for policies that promote genocide in the third world?

        My suspicion is that a college that functions as a preparatory school for Wall Streeters can't afford to have its students seriously examine this question.  Hamilton, in its very protective way, has a function to keep such job aspirants guilt-free and dissociated from the ethical issues such involvement poses.

        I am disappointed in the administration at Hamilton and the decisions that it and the faculty have made in all this.  I would have liked Hamilton to tell the pundits of Fox News Channel that they are shameless, and that Hamilton will not be intimidated by the likes of Sean Hannity et al or used to advance their right-wing agenda.  I would have liked the President to affirm that Ward Churchill not only has the right to express his views, but that Hamilton students may actually learn something from him.  I think it was a huge mistake to change the format of Churchill's original talk on campus to a panel discussion, where his views could be 'confronted.'  I look forward to future campus speakers (Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Tom Delay, Donald Rumsfeld???) also having their views challenged and confronted on a panel in a similar manner.  Who decides the parameters of 'reasoned discourse'?  How will it be decided who is allowed to be unconfronted?  The college's decisions will have a chilling effect on Hamilton's campus and others--and erode faculty rights.  Where is Hamilton's backbone?"

Amy McAninch 'K78
Fairway, KS


        Other defenses of Churchill, such as the "Open Letter From Concerned Academics" quoted above, likewise maintained a double focus on academic freedom and substantive issues.

        Award-winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political prisoner incarcerated on death row for a quarter century, wrote: "It is not enough for us to merely, dumbly, intone that Churchill has the right to write what he does.  No--we must do more.  We must insist that Churchill is right" ("In Defense of Ward Churchill-Historian" (Feb. 10, 2005), Turning the Tide, March-April 2005, p. 1; also available on many websites, e.g.

        Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, entitled his essay: "Ward Churchill has rights, and he's right" (Feb. 14, 2005; 

        John J. Simon wrote in Monthly Review: "in the main, Churchill's argument was as analytically nuanced as it was powerful....  The attack of the right-wing media opinion-mongers on his essay is part of a larger effort to squelch critical thinking, to inhibit opposition to ruling class goals, and to enfeeble the academy as a marginally safe arena for such views....  The United States has yet to recover from the societal and intellectual 'dumbing down' it suffered in the wake of the 'red scare' of the 1940s and '50s; without broad opposition it can and will happen again, this time with perhaps even more devastating results" (April 2005, inside back cover, p. 64). 

Chapter Supports Successful Student Project "Tent State University"

by Patricia Brodsky

        From April 11-15 the campus was the site of UMKC's first "Tent State University," an "alternative university" project for informing the community about urgent issues and engaging them in a dialogue about change.  Launched in 2003 at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and named in honor of the four students gunned down by the Ohio National Guard during a 1970 protest at Kent State University, the original TSU protested drastic budget cuts to education.  Since then, students around the country have held Tent State Universities each year, focusing on cuts in education funding, rises in tuition, and other issues touching on the daily lives of students and professors. 

        UMKC's event was organized by a coalition of students groups, spearheaded by the Campus Greens.  The organizers took great care to establish good relationships with the administration, the faculty, and buildings and grounds staff.  Dean of Arts and Sciences Bryan LeBeau offically opened TSU at a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 11, during which he expressed his strong support for the students' right to speak out.  The AAUP chapter was a co-sponsor, and underwrote several of the outside speakers.

        TSU's logo is a primitive tent surrounded by the "Latin" logo "alumnus brokus maximus," alluding to the financial state of many students, thanks to out-of-control tuition and the rollback of governmental support for education.  According to their statement of purpose, the "Ultimatum for Higher Education," TSU "embodies the homelessness of education in an increasingly violent and fearful society."  To dramatize this "homelessness," several dozen students camped out in colorful tents on the quad for four nights.  Camping tested the depth of their commitment, as the week began with pouring rain and nighttime temperatures sometimes dropped into the thirties.

        Issues foregrounded in the official TSU statement included an end to tuition hikes, increased state funding for higher education, support for academic freedom and civil liberties, a living wage for all UMKC employees, a sweatshop-free U-Store, and opposition to the Iraq war, which drains money from social services like education.  Other demands included terminating the contract with Sodexho food services on account of the company's poor labor policies and its profiting from the prison industry, and a UMKC holiday on election day to encourage students to vote. 

        Tables on campus offered petitions, sign-up sheets for various organizations, and information about the TSU concerns, as well as free food.  Activities included "alternative classes" on a wide variety of topics, ranging from "Students, Sweatshops, and Justice" to "Homelessness and Politics in Germany," to "Social Security and Privatization."  Fifteen UMKC faculty, including eight AAUP members, made presentations in this part of the program.  Many thanks to Stuart McAninch and Scott Baker for staffing the AAUP table for four days and for distributing AAUP materials and fact sheets on educational funding in Missouri.

        Among the outside speakers who brought new perspectives to the discussion was Vernon Bellecourt, a founder of the American Indian Movement, who discussed "500 Years of U.S. Wars of Conquest."  Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb spoke about corporations and the US constitution and called on listeners to "take back democracy."  On Friday Beth Low, representative of the 39th Missouri House District, which includes UMKC, and member of the Appropriations committee, whose responsibilities include higher education, gave the Tent State University "commencement address" and received an honorary degree.  After discussing the situation in the Missouri legislature, she praised the students for their courage and initiative.

        Despite the organizers' care in planning and arranging TSU, some harassment did occur.

        On Wednesday night eight campus policemen suddenly ordered the students to shut down their live concert, despite a permit from the administration and the fact that the sound system was well within the agreed upon decibel limits and times.  This incident occurred after some thirty TSU students had attended a UMKC Student Senate meeting and tried unsuccessfully to take part in a discussion about control over student fees.  At an emergency meeting the next day TSU leaders discussed their concerns with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Pat Long, and her staff, who did their best to defuse the situation and gave assurances that the police overreaction would not be repeated.

        On Thursday afternoon about twenty-five TSU students engaged in UMKC's first-ever civil disobedience, a "walk-in" on Rockhill Road.  Protesters strolled in a continuous circle on the pedestrian crossing between the library and the pharmacy building, holding signs and chanting "books, not bombs" and "education, not war."  Traffic quickly backed up in both directions along Rockhill, attracting a number of UMKC and KCMO police cars as well as a "crime scene" van.  Police blocked off Rockhill, diverting traffic onto side streets, while about a hundred observers and supporters lined the stone wall at the edge of campus.

        The goal of the civil disobedience action was to persuade the administration to negotiate with the students on their demands, which had been submitted in writing the previous week.  Commendably, the administration agreed to talk, and, to the satisfaction of most observers, a two-hour conversation between students and administrators brought the students major concessions on a number of issues.  Likewise commendable was police restraint in handling the situation on Rockhill Road.

        This upsurge of activism at UMKC did not happen in a vacuum.  At about the same time as Tent State, protests, sit-ins, and hunger strikes occurred at UC Santa Cruz, Georgetown, Washington University, and others.  UMKC is primarily a commuter school.  Our students work and study hard, and tend to have little time or inclination for political engagement.  The AAUP is extremely proud of the thought and effort which UMKC students put into this week-long event.  Our students are beginning to realize the power that resides in informed protest and principled resistance, values basic to the AAUP as well.

Consider attending AAUP Summer Institute

        AAUP Summer Institutes are a rich source of ideas and strategies for faculty organizers, as well as a way of networking with activist faculty from around the country.  Session topics include the making of a faculty handbook, political action, gender equity, institutional budgets, and developing shared governance.  There will also be seminars on labor history, privacy issues and sexual harrassment, diversity, and grad student organizing, among others.

        The 2005 AAUP Summer Institute will be held at the University of New Hampshire in Durham from July 21-24.  Fees include registration, workshop materials, dorm accommodations for three nights, and meals (dinner on Thursday, breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, and brunch on Sunday).

        Fees are as follows: first-time attendees $300; all others $360; early arrival (July 20) $65 fee; late departure (July 25) $65 fee; registration after June 17 $75 extra.

        For more details and to sign up, go to and click on "events."  Small travel stipends may be available.  Contact Pat Brodsky for information,

News of the Chapter

        The Happy Hour held at Ed Gogol's after the meeting with President Floyd on March 18th provided great food--for body, soul, and thought.  In addition to membership on the Chancellor Search Committee and participation in Tent State Unversity, chapter members have been in the news since the last Faculty Advocate appeared. 

        Congratulations to Ed Underwood , who has been named Executive Director of the new Institute for Urban Education (IUE).  We wish him great success in taking on this major responsibility.  Congratulations are also due Charles Wurrey , who has been selected as UMKC's nominee for "US Professor of the Year," an award sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  Linda Voigts was inducted as a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, an honor accorded fewer than 3% of the overall membership.  The chapter also congratulates Drew Bergerson, Doug Cowan, Alex Holsinger, and Hali Fieldman for achieving tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.
     Drew attracted a large crowd to a book signing at Barnes and Noble on April 7.  He read from his recently published book, Ordinary Germans in Extraordinary Times: the Nazi Revolution in Hildesheim.  A number of members presented papers in March and April: Alfred Esser at a conference in New Zealand, Pat Brodsky at the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference in Lexington, Joan Dean at the University of British Columbia, and Fred Lee at several sites in Ireland.

        In March Stuart McAninch resigned from the IFC in order to devote more time to responsibilities in the School of Education.   Bruce Bubacz, who had received the next highest number of votes in the previous election, agreed to serve out Stuart's term.  Candidates for Gary Ebersole's seat were AAUP members Phil Olson and Gary himself, who chose to run for reelection.  We're happy to know the faculty will be well represented on the IFC, regardless of the outcome of the election, which will be announced in early May.

        On March 22 a number of chapter members attended the first session of a new regional forum, the Holocaust Education Academic Roundtable, sponsored by the Midwest Holocaust Education Center.  The purpose of the roundtable, which will meet twice a semester and focus on a variety of related issues, is to exchange ideas on teaching about the Holocaust in higher education.  To start things off Drew Bergerson spoke about the problems of writing Holocaust history as a German historian.  Several other UMKC faculty participated, including chapter member Cynthia Jones.  Attendees at the first meeting represented (besides UMKC) KU, Maple Woods, Missouri Southern, CMSU, and Avila.

Corrections of print version of Faculty Advocate

1. In "Public Higher Education Again Under Fire: Privatization of UMKC may be in the Works," by Patricia Brodsky

    a. "Schmidt was also Chairman of the Board for the Edison Schools corporation."

        Schmidt still is Chairman of Edison as of this writing.

    b. "The deal with Edison was consummated one year after that same pension fund had lost $325 on Enron stock."

        The fund lost $325 million (Moberg)

2. In "Who is Warren K. Erdman?", by Alfred Esser

        Fannie Mae was incorrectly identified as "the federal student loan agency."  The phrase "the federal student loan agency" was an editorial addition.

        Fannie Mae handles mortgage loans.  The federal student loan agency is Sallie Mae.  The Editor regrets the error and publicly apologizes to Professor Esser.

The entire contents of each issue of The Faculty Advocate (except for public domain material) is copyrighted.  The Faculty Advocate , May 2005, Copyright 2005 by the UMKC Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.  All rights returned to authors upon publication.  AAUP chapters, state conferences, and the national organization have permission to reproduce and distribute.  Permission for other non-profit publishers is a formality, but UMKC AAUP asks them for the courtesy of requesting it.  Contact the Editor, Patricia Brodsky: 816-235-2826, e-mail:

AAUP Dues Information

Open to all faculty
Full-time tenured and tenure-track
Full-time non-tenure track
Graduate teaching assistants

Membership requires payment of both local and national dues

Local UMKC chapter dues

$10 per academic year.
Send payment to Treasurer, Alfred Esser, BSB 417, 816-235-5316, or
Please make checks payable to "UMKC-AAUP Chapter."
Also please send Alfred your preferred mailing address(es), phone(s), and e-mail address(es).

National dues

Varies by job classification and state--click this link for up-to-date information

Discounts on national dues for following categories

50% off
a) Entrant: Nontenured full-time faculty, new to the AAUP, for first four years of membership
b) Joint: Full-time faculty member whose spouse or partner is a full-time member
c) Retired
75% off
Part Time: Faculty paid on a per course or percentage basis


Graduate: Person enrolled as graduate student at an accredited institution; five-year limit
Please note that national dues also cover Missouri State Conference dues (but not local UMKC dues)

Back Issues

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 1 (September 2000)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 2000)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 3 (February 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 4 (April 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1 (October 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 2 (December 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 3 (February 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 4 (April 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 5 (June 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 3, No. 1 (September 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 3, No. 2 (December 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 3, Nos. 3-4 (April 2003)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 4, Nos. 1-2 (December 2003)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 4, Nos. 3-4 (April 2004)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 5, No.1 (August 2004)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 5, no. 2 (October 2004)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 5, no. 3 (February 2005)

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