THE FACULTY ADVOCATE
NEWSLETTER OF THE UMKC CHAPTER OF THE
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS
April 2007 Editor: Patricia Brodsky Vol. 7, Nos. 2-3
During my first two years at UMKC, when the Law School was located at the corner of 52nd and Rockhill (now Cockefair Hall), I saw Bob Popper only occasionally, since our offices were at the opposite ends of the building. In the fall of 1972, however, I obtained an office near Bob's when another faculty member left to return to practice in Chicago. It was a lucky break for me, since it led to a friendship that lasted for almost 35 years, until his death from cancer on February 9, 2007.
During the early years of our friendship, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the women's liberation movement, and Watergate were the dominant social and political issues of the day, and those same issues dominated our daily discussions in Bob's office. It was during those heady days that I learned the depth of Bob's character.
His moral compass always led us to discuss the rights of the individual vis-a-vis the state. He was particularly concerned with excessive government intrusion into the private lives of individuals. The excesses of the Nixon administration appalled him, especially the abuses committed by the Attorney General and the FBI. For years afterward, a framed front page of the New York Times announcing Richard Nixon's resignation was prominently displayed on the wall behind Bob's desk. I never asked him why he had displayed it for so long, because I knew. It reminded him of the importance of the rule of law, especially the Constitution of the United States, in our daily lives. But it was not the main document containing the United States Constitution that defined this principled man; rather his all-consuming passion was the protections given the individual by the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment. Many of the courses that Bob taught during his career exemplified this passion, such as Constitutional Law, First Amendment Law, Post Conviction Remedies, Law and Psychiatry, and International Human Rights.
He was a fierce opponent of the death penalty, primarily because he felt this form of punishment was morally wrong. First and foremost his basic humanitarian instincts told him that it was unusually cruel. Second, he knew that the inexactitude of the criminal justice system too often led to the conviction of innocent individuals, and post-conviction justice for such individuals could not occur once capital punishment had been administered. Finally, Bob opined that the real rationale for its imposition was retribution, not deterrence. To Bob retribution was closely aligned with vengeance, an attribute of human nature that he despised. Retribution as the primary justification for the death penalty debased the human condition, and the state had no business adopting such a punishment policy. Most politicians who advocated in favor of the death penalty annoyed him, because he thought that their positions, more often than not, were merely an unprincipled pandering to the public's worst instincts in order to get elected. It was under the leadership of Bob Popper that the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center was established here at the law school in the 1980s. Sean O'Brien was appointed the first director of the center, and as he recently stated, "You can point to dozens of people who are alive today because of Dean Popper."
Bob was an excellent teacher and prolific writer. The graduating class of 1997 recognized him as the Outstanding Professor in the law school for that year. An author of numerous articles, he also published a book entitled: "Post Conviction Remedies in a Nutshell." Service to the legal community was also one of his major accomplishments. He was a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and served on the board of directors of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Missouri Institute for Justice, and the Midwest Innocence Project. In 1982, he was given the University of Kansas City Board of Trustees Faculty Fellowship Award in recognition of his outstanding teaching, scholarship and service to the university.
During his time as dean of the law school, the quality of both the faculty and student body improved. Under his deanship, the school's funding for the library and for scholarships was increased and an innovative legal writing program implemented. Even when he was the dean, Bob never shied away from taking on controversial issues, as evidenced by his leadership in establishing the Capital Punishment Resource Center and his frequent appearances on KCUR and other public forums advocating the abolishment of the death penalty, the protection of freedom of speech and the rights of the accused. Bob, one of Kansas City's greatest civil libertarians, served as Vice President of the Western Missouri Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and in 1991 was honored by the chapter as the Civil Libertarian of the Year.
Even upon retirement he found time to argue on behalf of clients whose first amendment rights had been violated. When the UMKC Information Technology Department adopted a policy which was unusually intrusive upon the privacy rights of university employees and students, Bob, at the request of the local chapter of the AAUP, came to the rescue. He made an impassioned plea before the UMKC Faculty Senate for the first amendment and privacy rights of university employees and students (for the text see Faculty Advocate, No. 16, Oct. 2004 ). Before long Bob was serving on the newly-formed UMKC Information Technology Privacy Committee. It was instrumental in the adoption of a revised policy, which provides substantial protection for the privacy and first amendment rights of university employees and students.
Bob was a man of unsurpassed fairness, honesty and integrity. When he chaired meetings it was important to him that everyone had an opportunity to be heard on a particular issue. In social settings, Bob would initiate conversation on topics of the day. He always inquired about the lives of others and rarely talked about himself, and when he did it was always in connection with members of his family or friends. Although he disapproved of the abusive and/or self-absorbed conduct of others, he did so with a sharp wit and without malice. Without a doubt this razor sharp wit is what set him apart in these social settings and was one of his most endearing attributes.
Bob was also a talented wordsmith and a charismatic orator. He will be remembered for the many lives he touched by his awe-inspiring speeches.
A native New Yorker, Bob loved UMKC and the lawyers who graduated during his tenure. A few weeks before his passing he remarked to me how much he enjoyed his career as a professor and dean of this law school. "It was a terrific career," he said. He expressed his love of the law school at the Bob Popper Appreciation Day event held in his honor on December 4, 2006, two months before his death. More than 200 people attended the event and more than $60,000 (now over $80,000) was raised to establish a scholarship at the school in his name.
Here in pertinent part are Bob's remarks on that day: "I'm sorry for being so emotional. Frank Court once said, 'The trouble is your bladder is too close to your eyes.' I'm so proud of this wonderful law school. Never underestimate the quality of the education offered here or its terrific dedicated faculty and staff. Just look at the way they honor an old Prof.--by benefiting students, creating a scholarship for students. That's typical UMKC caring."
"I loved it here from the very start when Pat Kelly dragooned me from New York in 1969 and seduced me into a new career. I looked forward to every class, every semester. I was glad, not glad my vacation was over, but looking forward to a new challenge. I never looked back. What a blessing it has been to be with students, colleagues, I always respected and admired. Thank you is hardly enough for this tribute. But thank you from a very fortunate person and I appreciate what you've done ... I'll remember this evening, you have touched my heart in a very special way."
Although Bob loved the UMKC law school, his true love was his family: his wife, Mary Ann, his two children, Julianne and Robert, their spouses and his three grandchildren. Bob was the quintessential family man who put his family above all other matters in his life. As Ellen Suni so aptly stated, "He and his wife, Mary Ann, held hands forever, it personifies the kind of person he was."
I wish to close my tribute to Bob's memory by stating that the law school has lost one of its greatest assets, but his exceptional qualities will not be forgotten. As my friend Ray Coveney so aptly stated last night: "Bob was one classy guy."
Ed Hood is Professor of Law at UMKC. This tribute will also appear in Res Ipsa, the magazine of the UMKC Law School. The UMKC AAUP Chapter was pleased to donate $100 to the Popper Scholarship in honor of this champion of free speech.
On December 13, 2006, System President Elson Floyd announced that he had accepted a position at Washington State University. With his departure, the University, UMKC, and the AAUP chapter will lose a staunch supporter and friend. The UM system's first African American president, Dr. Floyd took over the direction of the University just as UMKC was entering a time of crisis. After the faculty's resounding vote of no confidence in our then Chancellor, Dr. Floyd moved to Kansas City temporarily so he could personally learn about the situation and guide our transition. During the subsequent egregious attack on the University by the so-called Blue Ribbon Task Force, he stood up to heavy pressure in defense of public education.
He gave generously of his time, meeting several times with the Chapter and the Executive Committee, and repeatedly demonstrated his strong belief in faculty governance.
The Chapter wishes him all success in Washington, and thanks him once again for his courageous and principled actions.
A farewell reception was held at UMKC for Dr. and Mrs. Floyd on March 15.
1. Just when you thought you could relax ...
I pointed out in the last issue of the Faculty Advocate, "'eternal vigilance' isn't just a slogan. We can't afford to get lazy; instead we need to exercise the rights we've fought for."
Unfortunately I've been proved right over the last few months, as a disturbing campus trend has become evident. Faculty from eight departments, representing three different schools, have approached the AAUP for advice on perceived violations of academic freedom and/or faculty governance. Issues include inequities in treatment within departments (salary decisions, teaching loads, preferential treatment of one part of the faculty over another); changing rules and expectations in the middle of a faculty member's progress toward tenure; violations of faculty governance in decisions concerning curriculum, hiring, and the recruitment and retention of students; and the creation of hostile working conditions by administrators.
One of these cases has led to formal grievance procedures. In such cases, the AAUP can aid the faculty member by supplying advice about legal options, and agreeing to act as a neutral observer during the official proceedings. Another case involves a vote of no confidence. Here, too the AAUP can serve as a source of information on rules and regulations, and on preparing an effective bill of particulars. We are prepared to listen and advise whenever faculty need our help.
But it is a bad sign that these situations have progressed this far, and that the problems are so widespread. In some cases, the disputes are between faculty and administrators. In others, factions have developed within the faculty--and this is far more disturbing. After joining together to win major campus battles, faculty appear to have returned to old issues that have been festering at the unit level.
We need to remember the power of the united faculty, and not let jealousies, territorial claims, or administrative ploys divide us. Division makes us vulnerable to attacks from above or from outside, undermines our cohesiveness, and ultimately harms us all. The good of the faculty as a whole, and of our mission as educators and scholars, should take precedence. Where inequities do exist, they need to be addressed and solved in the spirit of fairness and solidarity, if necessary through mediation or formal grievance, but with an ultimate goal of a stronger, more cooperative and vigilant faculty.
2. Just when you thought you could relax, part 2
Chapter members and many others are by now aware of HB 213, the Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act. It was on the House calendar for a floor vote in late March after the Assembly returned from its spring recess. Part of a national stealth campaign, the act would replace the professional basis of higher education with political, ideological and religious criteria, mandate monitoring of course content and of many other campus activities, and require the university to report compliance to the Legislature each year.
The Chapter mounted a campaign to inform people about the dangers of the Act and to urge them to write letters to their representatives, as well as letters to the editor and op eds. The Education for Democracy Network distributed the same appeal to a national list. Judging by informal responses, many faculty, students, and community members have weighed in on this predatory legislation in sheep's clothing. If the House approves HB 213, the Chapter will be sending out a second appeal urging the Missouri Senate to defeat the bill.
3. Corporatization of University of Missouri: official policy?
Corporatization of the university is not only still on the agenda. It appears to have become the official policy of the new Board of Curators and the UMKC administration.
The minutes of the IFC meeting of Janury 19, 2007 summarize a discussion with Chair of the Board of Curators, Donald Walsworth, on the search for a new system president. Walsworth stated that the candidate "may or may not be an academic; he/she could come out of a different background, but must be able to manage the growth of a $2.5 billion company with $5 billion in investments." The main task of the President is "to facilitate research and use it to enhance the economic development of the state" (http://www.umsl.edu/committees/senate/pdf_reports-06-07/0107_ifc-report.pdf).
An article in the University News (Derek Simons, "UM presidential search gains focus," March 19, 2007), reports a similar job description. The head of the executive search firm hired by the Curators stated that the candidate "'must--and this is non-negotiable--understand what it means, effectively and thoroughly, to run a business'." He also said that the candidate "'should have an academic background'," but the "'board has been very wise in not making me look too narrowly as to what the academic credentials will be'."
The description of the UM system as a "business" or a "company" with a specified net worth and assets flouts the public non-profit status of the University, whose mandate is to educate students, support research, and serve the public at large, not merely the business sector (euphemism, "enhance the economic development of the state"). Reducing the university's main task to vocational training and enhancing the bottom line of private businesses impoverishes and discredits its core activities. And finessing candidates' academic credentials, while emphasizing that the main hiring criterion is running a business, insures that the UM system and its campuses will be governed according to a business model, not an academic one.
As pointed out many times before in these pages, the business model harms, undermines, and often eliminates academic freedom, tenure, due process, and faculty governance. As a consequence, harm is done to the professional standards maintained by faculty and the university's reputation as a professional institution, one that maintains academic standards in instruction, research, and service.
The job description for the head of the UM System includes no commitment (other than, perhaps, in the form of platitudes) to public education, faculty, students, the public at large, or the core activities of the university. Rather, the job is about subjecting public higher education to the demands of private business. This is one of the definitions of corporatization. And with corporatization, privatization and the termination of "unprofitable" programs and disciplines cannot be far behind.
UMKC faculty and students and the public at large are already overly familiar with this scenario, through their bitter experience with Gilliland's "Blueprint," Benno Schmidt's "Blue Ribbon Task Force," the report of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (abolish tenure and peer review, deprofessionalize the faculty, reduce instruction to vocational preparation, privatize and outsource services, crush resistance by professional organizations), and the three Curators who attacked faculty and staff benefits (retirement system and retiree health care; their terms on the Board end in 2011). For the Fed report and the Curator assaults see
Faculty Advocate No. 20 (October 2006) . For the Blue Ribbon Task Force see Faculty Advocate No. 19 (November 2005) .
UMKC's massive new building plans (see below) are cut from the same cloth. Real estate developer and UMKC Trustee Hugh Zimmer stated in the Kansas City Star that these construction projects are "'responsive to what was outlined for UMKC by the Blue Ribbon Task Force Report'."
Alfred Esser wrote in his review of the report ( Faculty Advocate No. 19 ) that "Task Force recommendations would ultimately transform UMKC beyond recognition." In my own review in the same issue, I quoted the report's language, which envisioned UMKC as an institution where "faculty and graduate students ... generate discoveries, patents, and business opportunities and are the foundation for a city's entrepreneurial energy" (p.24). In other words, as I noted, it clearly recommended "corporatizing UMKC, which is the meaning and purpose of a large entrepreneurial research institution." To implement corporatization, it called for local business interests to have "a strong voice in the university's governance" (p. 54). It also made very specific recommendations about business control of the budget and curriculum. For example, as Esser pointed out, "the fiduciary responsibility of the University System would be further curtailed by removing UMKC endowments from its portfolio." And the report also calls for "a massive intrusion into UMKC's curriculum supervision."
We may not have to wait long to find out what other Blue Ribbon recommendations are in the works.
The front page story in the Star of March 15 was titled "UMKC Plans Campus Facelift." This commonplace cosmetic surgery metaphor was inappropriately applied to a $350 million building campaign to construct eleven facilities over the next three years. As usual, very few people on campus had any information about these plans, and formal input from broad sections of faculty and students (other than regarding the student center) appeared to have been nil.
What stands out in the article is the relatively small amount of resources devoted to instruction and research. Budgets for these core activities have been slashed over the past five years, and as recently as November 2005 entire programs were still on the chopping block of "viability audits," according to Interim Chancellor Lehmkuhle. At a Faculty Senate meeting the week after UMKC construction plans were announced, Chancellor Bailey defended the building program by pointing out that the library expansion will add 25% more classroom space to the Volker campus, and the pharmacy and nursing buildings on Hospital Hill will expand instructional and research space there. The Library expansion is to be funded out of the UMKC Capital Campaign. The pharmacy and nursing buildings, however, are to financed by the sale of MOHELA assets, which many critics and legislators oppose because it could weaken the loan program (see below Report on AAUP Missouri Conference Meeting).
Another new dorm and a new student union would serve students, but only marginally support learning. Chancellor Bailey refers to "things that will enhance the quality of campus life" which in turn will allegedly enhance student success. But more direct, less expensive, and more efficient ways of enhancing student success would include hiring more tenure-line faculty, who could devote more time to students, upgrading old classrooms used by unprivileged disciplines, reducing prices for course books, reducing tuition and fees, etc.
The Star wrote that these projects "are designed to boost enrollment and entice more students to live on campus" and would "turn the mostly commuter campus into one with more students living on campus." But if we do the math, a projected 1500 residential students by 2010 leaves about 11,000 at current enrollment rates still commuting to school, that is, even with a higher residential component, UMKC will remain a "mostly commuter campus" (88%). Higher enrollments can bring in more tuition revenue. But so far there has been no indication that these additional funds will be allocated to instruction and research. The most obvious need occasioned by increased enrollments is to hire more tenure-line faculty to cover heavier class and research guidance loads.
The new chiller plant, I would surmise, will service the new buildings. But six of the eleven projects, totalling estimated costs of $187 million, or over half the price for all projects combined, have nothing remotely to do with instruction and research: two sets of student apartments, several retail developments, non-student apartments, a hotel and conference center complex, softball fields, and a 6,000 to 8,000 seat convocation and basketball facility. Chancellor Bailey explained that five projects will be leased to developers, and the rent they will pay will go to the university. The Star, however, explains that "lease payments from developers would help pay for ongoing construction." Again, there is no explicit mention that any amount of such income would be earmarked for core academic activities.
The projects themselves, rather than meeting campus needs, are redundant: sponsoring apartment and retail developments a few blocks south of the Plaza, an enormous shopping center; a hotel and conference center less than a mile from several large new hotels in the Plaza area; and a basketball arena a few miles from a new downtown arena which doesn't even have tenants lined up.
Is there no other way of developing the campus neighborhood than by duplicating existing facilities? Is this the best, most creative, and most efficient use of space and funds that professional architects, planners, and developers can come up with?
Projects planned for the next seven years include a Hospital Hill complex of a conference and wellness center, a health science building for research, and a clinical research and professional office building, to the tune of $130 million. There are also plans to build a new Conservatory and two parking structures near the Volker Campus, costing another $90 million or so.
A new Conservatory building might actually support teaching and performing music and dance. But as with near-term plans, there is scant evidence that these later Hospital Hill projects would primarily serve academics rather than private business. Likewise, UMKC commuters appreciate the prospect of relieving parking space shortages. But in the face of diminishing world oil supplies and fossil-fuel generated global warming, it would make more sense for the university to form partnerships with the city to provide efficient, reliable, and low cost public transportation serving UMKC rather than forcing the campus community to continue to rely on their cars. In addition, projects concentrating buildings and people in a few blocks increase traffic congestion. But providing or improving public transportation does not seem to be addressed in the plans.
The larger portion of the construction projects (the non-academic ones) amounts to a standard neighborhood gentrification program, of the kind that has been implemented near many institutions of higher education. Gentrification marginalizes services for the general university community in favor of attracting people with money, above all students with money, who can afford high apartment rents, high dorm fees, and high-priced products sold by upscale shops trying to pay their own high rents to developers. In this environment the majority of students, who are working class commuters, become second-class citizens.
In short, the interests of the business community appear to have been the primary criterion in planning the majority of these construction projects. What the university will get from these deals remains to be seen.
Who benefits? The plans for West Campus
Reporter Derek Simons wrote in a University News article (February 12, 2007) that the UMKC Trustees were in the final stages of negotiation to buy most of the so-called Colonial Shops on 51st Street between Oak and Brookside. He quotes Kathy Dunn, a representative of the University Office of Development, as saying that the Trustees "have no intention of changing the nature of the street."
This was belied by the front-page article in the Star on March 15 trumpeting over a dozen building projects. One of these is a "hotel and conference center on Oak Street," which, according to a schematic map, abuts on 51st Street. One wonders how this will be done without "changing the nature of the street."
The UMKC Trustees' real estate activities sometimes have worked out well, but others have not turned out the way they should have, or perhaps the way they were intended. There is the embarrassing example of campus expansion some years back that united the south campus neighborhood against the University and brought out a forest of "UMKC Kills our Homes" yard signs. Or the misguided purchase of Twin Oaks that landed the University a big pile of asbestos and, once again, hard feelings in the neighborhood. Not to mention the origin of UMKC as a public institution, when the state bailed out private University of Kansas City, which was about to go under due to debts incurred in a failed dormitory project.
What do the Trustees hope to gain from the purchase of this strip of land on the western edge of campus? If, as Dunn claims, they "see this as an opportunity to benefit the University and the neighborhood," what are their plans for the affected shops in the strip--Kin Lin, Muddy's, Russell Stover Candies, Subway, and Pride Cleaners. Pizza 51, which is owned outright, was not purchased, but the owner has expressed concern about UMKC's intentions. Most have been in business there for a number of years, and all of them already contribute to the "vibrant student life" cited by Dunn. These are useful small businesses that are strongly oriented toward the local community, and have been even more popular since the opening of the new Oak Street dorm. It is unclear how Trustee ownership will improve on that. Do the new owners have changes in mind that would entail buying out the current lease-holders and introducing different businesses to the site, in an attempt to create their own version of "vibrant student life?"
Given the considerable representation on the Board of Trustees of Kansas City big businesses, including real estate and construction, it behooves us to keep an eye on developments on 51st Street.
The University recently announced, with justifiable pride, its somewhat belated policy of integrating locally-owned small businesses into campus life, for example, the food court at the University Center. This policy should be extended to the 51st Street corridor. Universities in other cities have made the mistake of alienating their neighbors, then swallowing them up entirely. Let's hope that UMKC doesn't follow this pattern.
Faculty Advocate , November 2005 , published a cluster of three articles dissecting Horowitz's deceptive model legislation.
The following op-ed was published by the St. Charles County Business Record on March 15. A somewhat different version was published by the UMKC student paper, University News.
The "Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act," HB 213, is scheduled for a vote by the full Missouri House. The Act claims it is necessary in order to defend academic freedom and "viewpoint diversity" in public institutions of higher education in the state.
Emily Brooker was a student at Missouri State University in Springfield who sued the institution. She claimed to have been victimized by the faculty's alleged political bias against her (she opposed gay adoption based on her religious beliefs). The university settled within a week, disciplined the instructor, investigated the Social Work Program, and awarded the plaintiff a handsome sum.
All higher education institutions in Missouri have policies and procedures that deal effectively with alleged faculty misconduct. Although Emily Brooker evidently did not avail herself of MSU procedures, the university nevertheless acted rapidly in her favor.
In reality, there is no problem which needs to be "solved" by government regulation of higher education. In Missouri and throughout the US, prove cases of faculty political misconduct are rare or non-existent. HB 213 is redundant and superfluous.
But HB 213 is not a local response to a local problem. The Act is closely modelled on legislation written by the ultra-conservative American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). Almost identical bills have been introduced in Virginia, Georgia, Montana, and South Dakota.
Five years ago ACTA called for a boycott of over 100 faculty nationwide for criticizing federal policies. Academic freedom, of course, was developed to protect faculty speech, and its scope includes matters of public concern. ACTA's boycott, along with its continuing ideologically motivated activities, exposes its hypocrisy as a "protector" of academic freedom.
The Emily Brooker case is merely a pretext to promote ultra-conservative legislation that undermines the foundations of higher education.
In the US higher education rests on professionalism (academic standards) and institutional autonomy. Genuine academic freedom derives from the faculty's professional training, qualifications, and judgment. Because US higher education institutions are professionally based, they are delegated the responsibility to govern themselves and make their own policies.
HB 213 would replace professional standards with ideological criteria, since it defines "intellectual diversity" in terms of "political, ideological, religious, and other perspectives." The bill would impose these extraneous criteria on all aspects of higher education, such as (quotes are from the bill's text) "teaching and program development," "hiring, tenure, and promotion policies," "institution [e.g. mission] statements", "grievance procedures," campus speakers, the "distribution of student fee funds," and "student course evaluations." Conflicts between "classroom assignments" (pedagogical standards) and a student's "personal beliefs" would always be resolved in favor of the student.
Predictably, it would chill the free exchange of ideas on campus and eliminate academic standards in higher education.
The authors of HB 213 have claimed zero costs to implement the law. In fact, its moral and fiscal costs would be very high. It could fatally damage the reputation of Missouri institutions of higher education. Among likely consequences would be: 1) the best faculty and students abandoning Missouri for less repressive places; 2) potential faculty hires and students deciding to go elsewhere; 3) the loss of tuition revenue and large grants in the sciences; 4) higher institutional costs to investigate and discipline alleged violations; 5) lawsuits by those who were ideologically disciplined. Money diverted to "intellectual diversity" would shortchange areas of real need.
The Act insults the intelligence, integrity, and reputation of all Missouri faculty, students, alumni, staff, and administrators. The Springfield News-Leader on March 1 termed HB 213 a "witch hunt" and hoped that it would "die a quick death on the House floor." The Missouri Assembly should defeat this bad legislation.
The campaign to defeat HB 213 is generating increasing press coverage.
Nine pieces in the Missouri press express their opposition to the bill.
* Two articles in Columbia Missourian, Feb. 26 and 28
* Springfield News-Leader, March 1
* Northwest Missourian [Maryville], March 8
* St. Charles County Business Record, March 15
* The Current [UMSL student paper], March 16
* Columbia Tribune , March 18
* Kansas City Star, March 26
* University News [UMKC student paper], April 3
Pieces in the national media opposing the bill include:
* Free Exchange on Campus, January 15
* Utne Reader , March 1
* New York Times , March 24
Two written testimonies opposing HB 213, presented at the House Higher Education Committee hearing on February 28, are available online.
* Amy Lane, UM Columbia Doctoral Candidate and Instructor in Sociology
* E. Rick Puig, Undergraduate at UM Columbia.
Faculty Advocate No. 12, April 2003 ) suppressed major passages in two letters it printed from UMKC faculty objecting to the administration's assault on the School of Biological Sciences.
The Kansas City Star followed suit on March 26 with Pat Brodsky's very short and tightly written letter opposing HB 213. The Star may claim it edited for length, but the letter was within the maximum word count mentioned by an editor in a phone conversation before submission. Several people who had read the published letter contacted its author for clarification, necessitated, among other reason, by heavy-handed editing.
In a 198-word communication, the Star made no fewer than six editorial changes, two of them major. These major deletions appear in italics.
1) "Five years ago ACTA called for a boycott of over 100 faculty nationwide for criticizing federal policies ." This embarrassing fact was reported by many news sources. Deleting it suppresses crucial historical information supporting the argument in the following sentence that ACTA's pose as a protector of academic freedom is hypocritical.
2) "HB 213 would eliminate institutional autonomy and academic standards, replacing them with 'political, ideological, religious, and other perspectives'." The words in single quotes are taken from the text of HB 213, as posted online by the Missouri General Assembly. The Star deleted the actual words of the bill, perhaps as a public service to readers, who otherwise might have been enlightened as to the real intent of this legislation.
In her remarks, Days succinctly framed the problem regarding state appropriations for higher education. There is no constitutional obligation to fund higher education in Missouri. In order to understand her point, one must remember that while the Missouri state constitution calls for adequate maintenance of "the state University and such other educational institutions as it may deem necessary", this has not been translated in legislative practice into definition and maintenance of what John Harms, outgoing president of the Missouri Conference, has called "an investment formula for higher education tied to a reliable and adequate revenue source." When the state is in financial distress (as it was during the recession earlier in the decade), higher education is the easiest target for cuts in appropriations. Tuition has subsequently risen as annual appropriations following the last recession have not returned state funding to pre-recession levels. In regard to rises in tuition, Days referred our attention to the provision in Senate Bill 389 which would limit increases in tuition and student fees to the increase in the consumer price index during the preceding year.
Days spoke about pending bills (especially Senate Bill 389) with provisions concerning the transfer of funds from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) for financing capital projects in the state's colleges and universities. She is critical of current planning for a selection of capital projects, since the University of Missouri-Columbia is a primary beneficiary while relatively few of its students have MOHELA loans. Days also believes that there are alternatives (such as issuing bonds) for funding capital projects which would not require selling assets of the loan authority. In a statement published in the Columbia Missourian on February 20, Representative Jeff Harris highlighted what is at stake in this matter: "Based on the fact that MOHELA's own advisers [Liscarnan Solutions LLC, a third-party consulting firm retained to study the fiscal viability of planning for tapping MOHELA funds to finance capital projects] think this plan could jeopardize MOHELA's ability to continue to provide low-interest loans to students, I can no longer support the sale of MOHELA assets to fund this initiative."
Days further noted that planning for capital projects related to research in the life sciences has been affected by battles in the legislature over stem cell research. [Indeed, after running on a pro-stem cell platform, Governor Blunt recently "capitulated to critics of stem-cell research," gutting his biotech initiative and allowing funds to be diverted to "less controversial classroom space" (KC Star , March 9, 2007, p. 1).--Ed]. She criticized university officials who have lobbied for a share of the money without adequately thinking through how the money was to be used. The amount of money in question is substantial: recent newspaper articles in the Missourian cite $350 million as the amount which is currently planned to be drawn from MOHELA for capital projects.
In her address, Days made reference to House Bill 213, which has been entitled by its sponsors the "Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act". HB 213 was the subject of subsequent discussion at the meeting. An offshoot of David Horowitz's "Academic Bill of Rights", the bill would require "each public institution to report annually to the general assembly detailing the steps the institution is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas." Among steps which institutions are to take is the prohibition of "viewpoint discrimination." Given that those political factions supporting the so-called diversity act were also those who in 2002 supported a cut of $100,000 from the budget of the University of Missouri as punishment for UMKC Professor Harris Mirkin's 1999 article identifying definitions of pedophilia as social constructs open to critique and calling into question a number of laws pertaining to pedophilia, the prevalent view at the meeting was that references to such a prohibition in the bill are hypocritical, and that provisions such as the requirement to report annually to the general assembly constitute a threat of political interference in the exchange of ideas. The best guess put forward at the meeting by those who closely follow the legislature was that HB 213 would not be voted out of committee. It has, however, subsequently reached the House floor (see related articles above).
In his address, David Robinson discussed the threats to tenure and academic freedom posed by contingency and by a misuse of collegiality. Robinson differentiated between use of collegiality as a criterion for evaluation and collegiality as a core value in higher education faculty cultures. Collegiality in the latter sense can be traced back to the development of the professoriate as a self-governing guild during the Middle Ages. Collegiality in this sense is compatible with academic freedom and a necessary characteristic of healthy academic institutions. However, collegiality used as a category in tenure review can easily degenerate into a code word for conformity or complicity with the academic agendas of those who exercise power in the procedure.
In terms of contingency, Robinson drew a parallel between increased reliance by American higher education on contingent faculty and what occurred in German higher education during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the case of Germany, the higher education system expanded rapidly while the professoriate did not. In both cases, academic freedom declined due to an increasing percentage of teaching being done by vulnerable, non-tenured faculty. He referred to earlier critiques of this decline in academic freedom by Max Weber and others.
Robinson referred to the work of the late David Gruber, long-time Missouri AAUP activist and chair of the national subcommittee which drafted the 2003 AAUP policy statement on temporary and part-time faculty (see "Contingent Appointments and the Academic Profession" on the AAUP Web site). He noted that in documents such as this one, the AAUP called for both more tenure-line faculty and more due process protections for non-tenure-line faculty. Tying the discussion of contingency to his earlier discussion of collegiality, Robinson called for provisions for fuller involvement of contingent faculty in the academic lives of their institutions and for tenure-line faculty to treat contingent faculty with collegiality.
Subsequent discussion of Robinson's address centered on issues such as lack of representation of contingent faculty in faculty senates and the difficulty of getting reliable data on numbers of contingent faculty and percentages of teaching done by them (see below "AAUP Contingent Faculty Study").
Richard Schneirov's address elaborated on themes articulated in the first two addresses: fiscal crisis in higher education as well as the undermining of tenure and academic freedom. He stressed the broader social context: the same forces which have undermined compensation and job security for much of the American middle class have also led to development of a two-tiered workforce in higher education. Currently, "65% of all employed faculty in the US are off the tenure track." Too often, those of us on the top tier have been "bought off" in a "classic divide-and-conquer approach." The incentives for tenure-line faculty have been more time for research, ability to teach only upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses, etc. However, he argued that complicity of tenure-line faculty in increased use of sweated contingent labor is short-sighted. The cost of increasing reliance on contingent faculty has been the undermining of academic freedom and shared governance, downward pressure on salaries, and frequent absence of conditions necessary for good teaching.
Schneirov emphasized that continuation of this trend is not inevitable. He called for coalition-building on the parts of tenure-line and non-tenure-line faculty as a means to develop professional solidarity. Schneirov advocated efforts to establish or strengthen institutional standards in areas like compensation, working conditions, and due process rights, in order to enhance the quality of life and work for contingent faculty members, and also to raise the cost to institutions of employing contingent faculty. He called for state-wide strategies which include collective bargaining, formation of broad-based political coalitions to support progressive labor legislation in the field of higher education (including the right to bargain collectively), and a holding of institutions accountable for including AAUP standards in their handbooks and rules and for following those standards.
This ground-breaking AAUP study of contingent faculty employment consists primarily of a set of tables documenting the numbers and percentages of tenure-line and contingent faculty at over 2600 institutions of higher education in the US. Data come from the US Department of Education as of Fall 2005 and were supplied by the institutions themselves. The tables cover "virtually all degree-granting colleges and universities" that are regionally accredited, but medical faculty, primarily public service faculty, tribal colleges, and unclassified institutions were excluded. Thus the figures for contingent faculty may run on the low side.
The study opens with an essay by the authors entitled "Consequences: An Increasingly Contingent Faculty." Its sections deal with "The Growth in Contingent Faculty Appointments," "The Nature of Contingent Faculty Appointments," and "The Creation of a Contingent Faculty: Ramifications for Higher Education."
While in 1975 tenured and tenure-track faculty accounted for 56.8% of the academic workforce, by 2003 they were reduced to 35.1%. Meanwhile, full-time contingents increased from 13% to 18.7%, and part-time contingents from 30.2% to 46.3%, or nearly half the faculty.
The report emphasizes that "the central problem of contingent academics is not the people who fill these positions" but "the nature of contingent work, its lack of support structures and the constraints on academic freedom for faculty in these positions" (p. 6).
Full-time contingents generally receive fixed-term appointments, originally intended to be non-renewable and last one to three years. Today, they are often renewed indefinitely, without providing peer evaluation or the protection of tenure. Pay is often adequate, and they receive benefits, an office, and access to campus facilities and services. But they rarely enjoy support or have time for professional development, and the contingent nature of the position makes them vulnerable, damaging their academic freedom.
Part-time contingents are usually assigned individual course sections for one semester, often so late there is no time to prepare adequately. They usually have little control over the content of the courses they are assigned, and courses can be cancelled or assigned to someone else at the last minute. They usually receive far less than a living wage, no benefits, and no institutional support (office, phone, computer, library access, teaching equipment, etc.). Most have no time for student contact outside of class, or collegial interaction with other faculty. They are usually excluded from departmental or institutional governance activities. Like full-time contingents, they are denied peer review and support for professional development, but because they do piece work on short notice, they are subjected to the greatest uncertainty. Since their jobs are the most vulnerable, they have no academic freedom and no due process protections.
Graduate student employees, who used to do limited teaching as part of an apprenticeship, often are assigned additional instructional duties that interfere with their studies. As research assistants, their work time often goes beyond the apprenticeship level, and the work they do often is not directly related to their own research program. They are contingent workers without academic freedom because their jobs depend on the good will of tenure-line faculty who supervise them.
Postdoctoral fellows often spend more time on teaching, mentoring, and sometimes administrative duties than on their own research. A postdoc has become a standard position in the sciences after graduate work, and the number of postdocs in the humanities and social sciences is growing. Some of them, for example in composition programs, require very heavy teaching loads, or service learning and mentoring in addition to teaching. Their contingent status resembles the situation of full-time non-tenured positions.
The authors repeat that the fault lies with the system, not with the teachers. "Individual part-time and non-tenure-track faculty often make extraordinary efforts to provide quality instruction for their students. However, they generally lack sufficient institutional support for those efforts. And as the faculty collectively grows more contingent, the quality of higher education itself is threatened" (p. 11).
The impact of contingent employment on students is threefold. Institutional support is lacking to provide quality instruction. There are often insurmountable obstacles to advising and mentoring students. And "their lack of academic freedom constrains their ability to challenge students to excel" (p. 12).
Faculty career advancement is generally precluded for contingents, especially part-timers with many years at their job. There is a bias against considering and hiring contingents for tenure-track positions, since they often lack the credentials which they don't have the time and support to develop.
An academic workforce consisting of a majority of contingent faculty impacts institutions because "faculty are the core of a college or university" and "provide the fundamental reason for the existence of colleges and universities" (p. 14). Affected negatively are the curriculum, research, academic freedom, advising, mentoring, student admissions, faculty hiring, governance, and other academic functions. Majority contingency helps define a "corporate organizational model, in which faculty are increasingly marginalized ... and faculty work is increasngly 'unbundled' into isolated tasks" (p. 14).
The impact on the future of higher education is severe. "The central ramification of increasing contingent faculty appointments in higher education is the diminution of the faculty voice.... Faculty voice and power in higher education are being diminished by contingency and may be stifled entirely if these trends continue unabated" (p. 15). The job of teaching has been redefined as coerced expendable labor. "Institutions are asking teachers and researchers to commit to them, their mission, and their students without providing an institutional commitment to their faculty employees in return.... The nature of contingent employment is stark: an exchange of constrained teaching for minimal pay.... if fully 65 percent of the current academic workforce is employed in this way, the other 35 percent cannot be far behind" (p. 15).
A workforce laboring under contingent conditions undermines the quality and vitality of higher education in the US. "The informed teacher-scholar is central to the values of American higher education. Maintaining an academic workforce where faculty are valued for their contributions in and out of the classroom, and then rewarded for those contributions with the security and freedom of tenure, is fundamental to the system itself.... The beneficiaries are the students who learn from faculty who are provided with the tools to guide, challenge, and support them through their education. Without such faculty, higher education cannot remain the vital institution it has become in American society" (p. 15).
The statistical section of the AAUP study provides information of interest to the campus community at UMKC and to the UM system. Nationally, full-time and part-time contingent faculty, along with graduate student instructors, account for "65 percent of all faculty at degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States" (p. 5).
The tables are divided according to type of institution: Doctoral and Research Universities, Master's Degree Universities, Baccalaureate Colleges, and Associate Degree Colleges. Within each category institutions are grouped geographically by state and alphabetically within states. The average contingent percentage of all faculty at public doctoral institutions is 42.8%, and at private ones 54.6%.
At UMKC 42.5% of all full-time faculty are contingent, that is, off the tenure track (310 out of 729). In addition, there are 619 part-time contingent faculty and 451 graduate student employees. The combined total of all contingent faculty--full-time, part-time, and grad students--is 1380. In other words, contingent faculty amount to 76.7% of all faculty at the university. This number is 79% above the national average for public doctoral institutions (42.8%). Only 419 faculty at UMKC are tenured or tenure-line, that is, 23.3%.
The total percentages of contingent faculty at the other UM campuses are comparable: 77.4% at UM Columbia, 73.3% at UM Rolla. and 77.5% at UMSL. Private doctoral institutions in Missouri have only slightly lower percentages: 68.8% at St. Louis University and 71.2% at Washington University.
Total contingent percentages for doctoral institutions in contiguous states are about the same: 67.8% at University of Kansas, 66% at Kansas State, 72.2% at Wichita State; 78.3% at University of Iowa, 73.2% at Iowa State; University of Arkansas Main 70.5%, UA Little Rock 65.7%; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 78.4%, UI Chicago 78.2%, etc. Percentages at private institutions in Chicago tend to run in the low 60s.
The most prestigious national institutions show the same employment pattern: Harvard 76%, MIT 81%, Johns Hopkins 81.9%, Yale 72%, Stanford 75.9%, etc. Nevertheless, community colleges employ by far the greatest number and percentages of contingent faculty. The average is 79.6% at public institutions and 82.5% at private ones. But many community colleges report 100% of their faculty as contingent.
The question of why the percentage of contingent faculty is so high is not addressed in the study. There are several major reasons.
1) Contingent faculty are cheap. Part-timers, who are almost 50% of all faculty nationwide, are typically paid below the poverty line and only rarely receive benefits. Full-time contingents are paid better and receive benefits, but are still cheaper than tenure-line faculty.
2) The jobs of contingent faculty are "flexible." From the employer's point of view "flexibility" means part-timers can be hired or released at the last moment depending on immediate staffing needs. From the contingent's point of view "flexibility" means extreme insecurity and vulnerability. Part-timers can be hired and fired at will, and full-time contingents likewise lack job security. Thus they can easily be intimidated into docility and compliance with the employer's will. Contingent means easily controlled.
3) Contingent faculty have no academic freedom, the minimum requirement for them to be able to do their job properly. They are easily silenced about issues they care most deeply about.
What are some of the larger forces responsible for the high percentage of vulnerable contingent faculty in US institutions of higher education?
As the Faculty Advocate and many other publications have repeatedly explained, the most important factor is the neo-liberal model and its market ideology. Neo-liberal policy has been at war with labor for almost three decades, in the interest of maximizing corporate profits and power. Public sector institutions such as education have been potentially lucrative targets for a long time. In addition, because education, like the media, belongs to the doctrinal system, corporate control of opinion requires reducing higher education to subservience. Teachers are to become exploited and expendable servants of big business and mouthpieces for corporate ideology. Students are to be trained to fill slots in the corporate hierarchy.
Major consequences of neo-liberal ideology are the primacy of the interests of the wealthy, the destruction of the public domain, and the elimination of the very idea of society (e.g. Margaret Thatcher's dictum, "there is no such thing as society"). Neo-conservatives have added the dogmas of empire, unending war, domestic repression and the police state, and right-wing religious ideology. Representing the latter are junk science, creationism/intelligent design, patriarchal family, gender, and sexual models, and the second-rank status of minorities, including immigrants from the south and their exclusion from higher education (currently advocated by bills pending in the Missouri legislature).
The major difference between Missouri campuses and those in contiguous states is that contingent faculty outside Missouri are organizing to defend themselves, their students, and higher education from the fate which ruling ideologies have in store for them. Labor unions already represent graduate students at the Universities of Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois. And part-timers are also organizing successfully, particularly in California and in the greater Boston and Chicago areas. Organizing by the most vulnerable academic employees is taking place even in states where laws do not authorize collective bargaining for public employees (Missouri, for example, has no enabling legislation). Organized faculty can act like a union and defend their interests even without formal recognition. For more information, see the book reviewed below.
Reclaiming the Ivory Tower packs more information and ideas into its 150 pages than a short review can cover. Written in an accessible style by a long-time adjunct instructor, it distills two decades of organizing experience by the author and by other organizers he interviewed. Berry offers strategies, "guidance and encouragement" for contingent faculty organizing that intimidated tenured and tenure-line faculty might find just as useful. A measure of the depth of the author's commitment is the fact that he is giving away copies of his book gratis to adjunct organizers.
At the outset Berry explains that, instead of yet another analysis of the problem, he wrote a "manual for action." Its usefulness as a hands-on, practical, organizing guide analyzing the kinds of situations that adjunct organizers will typically face is its most original contribution. And its theoretical and practical proposals should advance a healthy debate about the direction and goals of the contingent faculty movement.
Contingents now constitute two-thirds of the higher education academic workforce. They are the overwhelming majority, and the consequences for academic freedom, tenure, due process, shared governance, peer review, and the professional basis of higher education are clear. All of these AAUP principles and practices are weakened, and made vulnerable to attack and elimination, if they apply only to one-third of the faculty. Thus contingent faculty organizing has the potential to defend the foundations of higher education in the US.
Berry identifies several major factors that have shaped higher education in the last three decades: "the transformation of college faculty into a casualized majority;" "the transformation of the college student body" into a group "that much more nearly reflects the working class majority of the United States;" and "thirty years and more of contingent faculty activism." The author is optimistic about the future of adjunct organizing. "If this book has a single message it is this: first, there is a movement out there to learn from and join, and secondly, when we fight we are winning."
Reclaiming the Ivory Tower proposes three main goals for the contingent faculty movement. The first concerns wages, working conditions, and a professional commitment to students: "to turn what has always been good work [teaching] into good jobs that give us a decent living and the conditions that allow us to do our best work" for our students. The second is to "rebuild the whole labor movement," which is faced with organizing a growing casualized contingent workforce. And the third is to democratize higher education and society itself.
Since contingents are the potential majority of the faculty union movement, Berry believes that contingent activism "could be the basis for the rise of ... a new social unionism among faculty." And the shared self-identification of faculty and students as exploited contingent workers "could help to transform higher education pedagogically, politically, and economically."
The national statistical information on contingent faculty supplied by the book is instructive. For example, contingent faculty teach in all types of academic institutions but are concentrated in community colleges, which represent 40% of all institutions nationally. Large numbers of adjuncts are also employed in vocational and adult education programs, private, for-profit career colleges, trade schools, extension or evening programs, distance education, satellite campuses of liberal arts colleges, and national for-profit enterprises like University of Phoenix and DeVry University.
Part-time contingent faculty average nearly seven years in their jobs, which would qualify most of them for tenure, if it were available. Since most turnover appears to be in the first three semesters, the contingent workforce appears to be rather stable. Union representation among part-timers is 29 percent, and of all contingent workers, faculty are the most unionized. The average annual personal income part-timers derive from teaching is $12,100. 31% of part-timers work in more than one academic institution and 73% have other jobs.
The main reason for the expansion of contingent labor, as a section heading explains, is "Corporatization: Higher Education in the Service of Capital." An "entire occupation has been converted from permanent career status to temporary, often part-time, status in the space of a single generation of workers." Traditional academic institutions have become "more profit than service oriented", and higher education is required to "directly serve the needs of private business, which is now considered the ultimate customer to whom students are provided as trained workers."
Chapter One outlines the conditions under which contingent faculty work and live. Berry confirms the bias (mentioned in the AAUP report reviewed above) against hiring contingent faculty for full-time tenure-track (which Berry abbreviates as FTTT) positions. Contingency is an employment trap, since contingents applying for tenure-track jobs typically are regarded as "damaged goods" that further deteriorate with increasing years in casualized work. Employers usually resist proposals that contingents receive preference for full-time tenure-track jobs. "When combined with pervasive age discrimination ..., contingent employment becomes dead-end day labor."
The "Introduction" opens with a dozen real-life snapshots of the walled ghetto that defines the working lives of adjunct instructors. The book's first page offers a particularly mordant anecdote. "At a conference of contingent faculty from all over North America ... the talk turns to retirement. No one in the discussion is under thirty and most are well over forty. One New Yorker drops his one-liner: 'My only retirement plan is a bullet in my dresser drawer'."
The majority of contingent faculty are expendable, casualized temps, and their ghetto more closely resembles the wasteland of Coketown in Dickens' novel, Hard Times, than the gentrified discontents of academic romances like David Lodge's Small World . The wasteland of Coketown generated its own educational system, represented by Mr. Gradgrind and his intellectually and ethically stunted products. The wasteland of neo-liberalism is generating an analogous and no less debased system. Trustees and administrators, writes Berry, "view higher education as a business.... [But] their 'business' of higher education works only because of our labor". Corporate education intends the majority contingent workforce to be the compliant instrument of its will. The larger purpose of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower is to transform that instrument into a force which turns aside corporate plans, by organizing democratic contingent faculty unions committed to democratizing higher education in all its ramifications.
Organizing requires a strategy, and a strategy must deal with objective and subjective factors. The former include "the material realities of the workplace and the power relations within it," the latter the psychology and behavior of the people being organized ("consciousness"), both before and during the stress of "active organizing conditions."
While the book does not dwell on psychology, it occupies a more prominent place than usual. Berry states that "organizing is all about getting people together to feel more hope than fear and fatalism about the prospect of change in their lives." The importance of paying attention to fear, fatalism, and hope among contingent faculty is stressed by Berry and the other organizers he interviews.
Adjunct organizing began in the Northeast and on the West Coast in the 1970s, while Chicago and other Illinois activity began in the mid-1980s. The contemporary contingent faculty movement, which started in 1995, is "part of a huge campus labor force that has created a vibrant labor movement." It is the vitality of this movement that gives the author hope for the future.
Contingent faculty activists come from varied backgrounds. "No disciplines," including business departments, "are uniformly hostile to organizing." Disciplines which lack non-academic alternatives to good jobs have produced the most activists: "English and ESL, other humanities, and some social scientists." Significantly, "vocational program faculty are often among the most serious activists, since many jobs they come from pay so much better than contingent teaching." Activists also tend to be faculty without doctorates and from less prestigious institutions. "Those most likely to get involved are those most committed to the job," for example, seasoned faculty and those who teach for a living, or those committed to education, even if it isn't their main source of income.
Much of the book is devoted to relations between contingent faculty and their potential allies: above all, with FTTT faculty, undergraduate students and graduate student assistants, and unionized campus workers.
While the unionized campus labor force sees itself as working class, and non-elite students increasingly adopt this perspective, FTTT faculty and many graduate students generally do not. Despite a broad range of common interests, current contingent relations with FTTT faculty are mixed, and in some cases strained. These strains express themselves in the indifference or hostility shown by some FTTT faculty and unions to contingent needs and demands, on the one hand, and in resentment by contingents at the superior pay, status, and working conditions enjoyed by FTTT faculty, on the other (for more on this subject, see below "Contingency, Tenure, Peer Review").
An unofficial pecking order has also developed between groups of adjuncts: those who teach multiple courses, as opposed to only one, and those who teach credit courses versus teachers in non-credit programs, even at the same institutions. The latter groups are often left out of adjunct bargaining units and get paid less per class.
Because their supervisors tend to be FTTT faculty (some supervisors are contingents themselves), most contingents speak very cautiously to their FTTT collegues about contingent issues. Both supervisory and non-supervisory FTTT faculty tend to be unaware of the range of problems contingents face, and some feel threatened by contingent organizing.
To counter the forces of fragmentation and mutual recrimination, Berry accurately identifies the problem as "those who own, control, and manage institutions of higher education in the United States." It is academic owners and managers who have established, promoted, and enforced policies of replacing tenure-line with contingent positions. They and their corporate sponsors are the main beneficiaries, who profit through the divide and rule strategy of two-tiered employment (FTTT and contingent). The result has been the deprofessionalization and proletarianization of the workforce. The downward class mobility already experienced by contingents now threatens the tenure-line faculty as well.
Berry's advice to contingent faculty organizations is self-reliance plus outreach, which he terms an "inside-outside strategy." Contingent organizations should retain maximum independence and decision-making power while developing good relations with potential allies. They should learn to do union-related business themselves, including organizing and contract negotiations. "Our main goal should be to build our movement in whatever way we can, largely independently if we must and in alliance with FTTT faculty if we can."
Contingent organizations, to be effective, should commit themselves to "democratic, participatory social movement unionism" which promotes "the highest degree of solidarity and development of class consciousness." Contingent faculty respond well when they regard "union involvement as a coming together of friends and colleagues collectively." If leaders come from outside, contingents will see the union more as a service organization than their own handiwork, and will not make the required commitment of time and energy, not to mention "non-suicidal" risk-taking. The culture of solidarity and mutual aid nourished by social movement unions is analogous to a family. Members may disagree (and they should work out disagreements), but "like a family we need to take care of each other to succeed."
"Once you have a cohesive group you effectively have a union and you need to think about it that way." Much can be accomplished before gaining formal recognition from the employer. "Those groups that self-organize and educate themselves together at the start have a collective strength that no outside organizer can give them."
Contingent organizers agreed that "virtually everything that was done was worth doing, or at least not harmful." What didn't work was mostly acts of omission, due to a lack of time and personnel. The more an activity involved the membership, the more effective it was.
At the same time, Berry notes that leadership is still essential to the movement. Leaders should be developed from the grass-roots, but if two or three key leaders are lost, it can set back the movement for a long time. Nevertheless, for the author "the primary question is always this: are practices being pursued that will build, rebuild, and continually reinvigorate the movement at the base, from which the power, militancy, collectivity, and ultimately political correctives for erroneous decisions flow?"
Contingent faculty are concerned with multiple issues. But Berry suggests the main message to communicate is the single word, "respect": "respect for the people who are doing the work and respect for the work that they are doing." Because they are "thoughtful and well-educated people" who take pride in and derive satisfaction from their work, "part-timers are insulted by their treatment.... Even people who do not need the money to survive are insulted by the pay." When administrators disseminate anti-union propaganda, they fail to understand "that it is perceived as insulting to the intelligence of the faculty and as condescending and degrading to their seriousness of purpose."
A passage near the end of the book expands on the meaning of respect. "Respect means equal pay and conditions with FTTT faculty. Respect is expressed in more stability of employment and adequate notice of work and assignment. Respect also comes in recognizing the past work we have successfully completed by giving us seniority rights to future work and preference for tenure track jobs when they open up. It is also expressed in equal access with tenure track faculty to the support resources of the institution, such as offices, computers, mail, phones, audio-visual support, and clerical help."
Since fear is pervasive among contingent faculty--well-justified by the extreme vulnerability of their jobs, another major theme running throughout the book is caution and confidentiality. For example, new contingent organizations are advised to protect the identities of their contacts, activists, and members until they are strong enough to go public.
Since contingent faculty are readers, organizers repeatedly confirmed that they responded well to the written word, including longer analytical pieces. One stated: "We are an organization that essentially established ourselves with credible literature. We have to assume that our constituency is intelligent and reads." By contrast, organizers mentioned that larger group meetings were not effective, either as a method of communication or in attracting new members. Semi-social gatherings, however, sometimes bore more fruit.
Other topics covered in chapters 2 and 3 include competitive unionism; contingents serving as union staff; the attributes of a democratic union; a guide for a national strategy; statistics on contingent faculty in Chicago; interviews with organizers; and lessons from the Chicago experience.
Chapter 4, A Chicago "Metro Organizing Strategy," revolves around a proposal for a Contingent Faculty Center. As Berry conceives it, the Center would be a think tank for organizing (strategies, position papers, historical accounts, legal information, press releases, newsletter). It could also be a library and archive, database of faculty, movement clearinghouse, local meeting place, job bank and hiring hall, provider of individual services (health and retirement benefits, CV preparation, unemployment appeals, child care, access to equipment), and a source of assistance in organizing, publicity, labor education, professional development, contract campaigns, and coalition building.
Chapter 5, "An Organizer's Toolbox," provides advice on getting started ("even two make a committee"), building a committee and developing issues, building relationships, acting like a union, dealing with divisions, communications, analyzing the opposition, strategic planning, and finding allies.
Reclaiming the Ivory Tower is a must read for contingent faculty who want to improve their own working lives. In the process they could shape a democratic future for higher education, a future which may be in their hands. FTTT academics also can learn a great deal from this book, both out of self-interest (to avert a future without tenure and academic freedom), and out of a commitment to basic social justice.
Berry himself views contingent problems and solutions generally from an AAUP as well as a traditional trade union perspective. His understanding of academic work as a special case requiring special protection, his treatment of tenure as job security protecting academic freedom, and of academic freedom as a public good are generally accurate. He acknowledges that the inaccessiblity of tenure, academic freedom, due process, and shared govenance to the majority of faculty is a great loss and a threat to higher education. Likewise, he agrees that the solution to the crisis--which would benefit contingent faculty as well as strengthen AAUP principles--is to increase the number of tenure-track positions and to give hiring preference to seasoned contingent faculty.
He also proposes the reasonable and just principle that, analogous to tenure and academic freedom, all workers should have the rights to job security and free speech in the workplace. Job security is something "all workers should be able to earn as a right" (p. 29) and "all workers need job security and free speech on the job and should have it after a reasonable probation" (p. 135).
However, some dissonant notes are sounded in other parts of the book. They indicate a conflicted attitude in the contingent faculty movement toward FTTT faculty and certain graduate students, on the one hand, and AAUP principles, on the other, and they sometimes directly contradict previous statements. Such dissonances may be due partially to an incomplete understanding of the professional basis underlying AAUP principles. Another factor may be resentment of FTTT faculty advantages, to which all graduate students, in addition, aspire. Grad students who keep their distance from contingent faculty deny that contingency will be the fate of the majority of their peers. The dissonant passages detract from Berry's consistent recommendation that contingent faculty seek alliances and maximize solidarity with FTTT faculty and grad students based on common interests.
At the start Berry notes that attacks on tenure "question the 'privilege' enjoyed by some academics." Nevertheless, his initial treatment of tenure explains that it rests not on privilege but on academic freedom and the public good. Later on, however, he attacks the tenure system, rather than its corruption, and ridicules it as unwarranted special class privilege which serves no public interest.
For example, he writes that "current tenure systems have many negative aspects, among the worst is when it is treated as a gift or special reward, subject to gross political and personal manipulation" (p. 29). The attack here is on "current tenure systems" rather than on corrupt practices that undermine them. Later he states, "as long as most college teachers were the rarefied 'professor,' seemingly breathing different air, filled with academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance [emphasis DB], the gap between them and most working-class Americans was hard to breach" (p. 135). Then he suggests: "what if all the faculty unions and associations ceased trying to defend tenure as a special privilege we deserve as the special people we are and the especially important role we play in the society for the greater good [emphases DB]?" (p. 135).
In these passages tenure and academic freedom are clearly mocked as markers of special class privilege, which serve not the public but the academic elite. In addition, the "special case" of academic work is viewed not as a model to be adapted to other kinds of labor, but an obstacle to non-elite workers winning job security and free speech in the workplace.
In arguing that contingents seek allies even in privileged disciplines, Berry introduces the principle of "upward equalization." "Our goal always has to be to equalize upward and not appeal to the envious selfish attitude that implies that taking something away from a better-off colleague will necessarily get anything more for us" (p. 124). But when suggesting that the "special case" of "privileged" FTTT faculty denies rights to the rest of the workforce, instead of "upward equalization"--where both academics and all other workers are protected by job security and free speech in the workplace--Berry appears to be advocating downward levelling, where FTTT faculty are stripped of alleged elite privilege, so that all workers will have what FTTT faculty now have. As if "taking something away from a better-off colleague will necessarily get anything more for us."
The AAUP, of course, does not argue for tenure, academic freedom, due process, and shared governance on the basis of special privilege, class-based or otherwise, but as necessities for faculty to do their jobs properly. It also recognizes that because contingent faculty are denied these protections, all faculty are harmed. Thus it recommends increasing the number of FTTT positions. In reality, all but a small minority of FTTT faculty "breathe the same air" as their students and exploited contingent colleagues, the polluted political atmosphere of concerted assaults on academic freedom. While all workers indeed deserve job security and freedom of speech in the workplace, academic labor really is objectively different from many other kinds of work. It is a special case, because controversy and critical dissent from mainstream opinion are not side issues but lie at the heart of the job. But there is no inherent contradiction between the special case of academia and the general case of the entire workforce. Nor is there any inherent obstacle preventing academics from making common cause with all other workers on these issues.
Berry's apparent misunderstanding of the professional basis of AAUP principles plays a significant role here. At the beginning of the book he explains that tenure is "similar in practice [emphasis DB] to the 'just cause discipline and discharge' language found in most union contracts" (p. 5). But later he writes that "tenure really is only [emphasis DB] the academic version of just-cause protection in case of discipline or discharge" (p. 135). The leap from analogy ("similar") to exclusivity ("only") imposes a narrow interpretation of tenure reducing it to due process.
Elsewhere he writes that tenure also gives the faculty the power to "set the terms of its own work." Since the power to control the terms of one's own work is a major criterion defining professionalism, this is another way of saying that tenure defines and protects faculty as professionals. However, Berry does not use the word "professional" in this context.
In a valuable discussion of the variety of seniority systems, he notes that tenure is a "seniority system of sorts" and argues that "the core principle of seniority in education should be the recognition that work adequately performed in the past yields experience that, in general, leads to greater skill. This greater all-around and long-term efficiency of familiar and committed employees redounds to the benefit of the employer as well as the student" (p. 29). Seniority should be a major criterion when contingent faculty are given hiring preference for new tenure-line positions. But what is missing here are the principle of professionalism and the practice of peer review which sustains it.
In urging contingent faculty to appeal to FTTT faculty as allies, he states: "If they [FTTT faculty] care about professional standards, and many do [emphasis DB], they should ally with us to fight for more tenure track jobs and to improve the conditions of contingents. Many will join us" (p. 138). This is a necessary appeal and an accurate prediction.
But the conditional "if", and the suggestion that professional standards are a subjective choice, ignore the fact that the professional basis of higher education in many cases is also a legal requirement. Irrespective of their personal feelings, all FTTT faculty, like it or not, are required to "care about professional standards." Faculty are evaluated and evaluate other faculty according to professional standards through the process of peer review. If they violate professional standards, they can be disciplined and even discharged for just cause. On a campus where AAUP guidelines are in force, the discipline process belongs to the faculty, not the administration, and takes place through faculty peer review. In a system of shared governance, faculty are delegated the responsibility of dealing with faculty affairs, including disciplinary proceedings.
Berry's treatment of tenure, academic freedom, and professionalism exhibits apparent misundertandings on four points.
The first point is the unlimited duration (up to lifelong) of traditional academic tenure, as opposed to the short lives of union contracts. Union contracts conceivably could bargain for tenure and academic freedom protections. But contracts typically last only a few years, and tenure and academic freedom could be eliminated in subsequent bargaining. If academic freedom and tenure become several among many bargaining points and need to be renegotiated every few years, they also become relegated to marginal status and lose their force as foundational principles of higher education in the US. Retaining the professional argument for tenure and its unlimited duration, by contrast, would defend their foundational and non-negotiable status.
The second point is that "'just cause discipline and discharge' language in most union contracts" is analogous not to tenure but to due process, another AAUP guideline. Tenure includes but is not limited to due process. Its other dimensions (some of which Berry acknowledges) encompass peer review, professional qualifications, a limited probationary period, and indefinite duration.
The third point concerns the absence of peer review, that is, professional evaluation of job performance. In recommending ways of achieving job security for contingents, the author writes: "Organizing, of course, could regularize these [contingent] positions and negotiate how they are handed out." The method of distributing new regularized (tenured or tenure-line) positions to seasoned contingent faculty, as the book proposes, would be through a job bank, which could develop into a hiring hall. These mechanisms presumably would distribute jobs based on seniority, rather than peer review, in which professional qualifications are the criterion for awarding tenure. But there is no obstacle to combining a hiring hall with peer review. If contingents were to undergo peer review, and the determining professional qualification for tenure were their success and longevity as teachers, professionalism would still be the operative principle of job security.
The fourth point is that professionalism is overlooked as the foundation of tenure and academic freedom. Because faculty are professionals who undergo peer review, tenure and academic freedom protect academic standards, and academic standards, like academic freedom, serve the public good. Berry emphasizes that contingent faculty are professional educators, and many have professional credentials, but they have been denied the opportunity to demonstrate and gain professional status. The special case of academic contingency, then, is a denial of support for pursuing professional credentials, thus of the professional status that justifies job security.
But eliminating professionalism as the basis of tenure and academic freedom also could devalue the tenure-line jobs for which current contingents would have eligibility and preference. Since contingents are the large majority, non-professionally-based tenure could either undermine traditional tenure or establish a two-tiered tenure system. Alongside strong, superior, professionally-based positions with job security of unlimited duration there would be weaker, inferior, seniority-based positions, with job security renegotiated every few years. Tenure awarded on the basis of seniority plus peer review, on the other hand, could become the full, strong, and long-lasting variety of job security, the same kind that their FTTT colleagues currently enjoy.
Divergent views of professionalism (seniority/probationary period based on adequate job performance, versus both these criteria plus peer review and formal credentials) must be acknowledged honestly and worked out in frank conversations between contingent and regular faculty, if there is to be any meaningful, effective, strong, and long-lasting solidarity between them. In addition, there must be supportive conversations about how to increase the number of tenure-track positions for which experienced contingents have preference, and how to maintain a strong unitary tenure system, which continues to justify tenure, academic freedom, due process, and shared governance. One possibility is the proposal to combine traditional seniority with professional peer review.
If, on the other hand, the argument of deep class divisions between contingent and FTTT faculty gains preeminence, then the divide and rule strategy of neo-liberal and right-wing forces calling for ending tenure as a privilege--since it now applies to a shrinking minority--will march ahead unimpeded and abolish it once and for all time. Sooner rather than later, 100% contingency will prevail in academia, and there will be no job security or academic freedom for anyone. In addition, once the academic precedent vanishes, so does the possibility of holding it up as a model when fighting for job security and free speech in non-academic workplaces.
Not only academia, but public education at all levels, and education not only in the US but globally, is undergoing some of the most coordinated pummeling and sabotage it has ever sustained, certainly since the era of the Enlightenment. Faculty of all types and on all levels of the academic pecking order must respond to this assault with the unified seriousness of purpose it requires. Either minority FTTT and majority contingent faculty unite to demand upward equalization for the majority (including tenure, academic freedom, due process, and shared governance), or they all go down together in the corporate and clerical dystopia. Berry's repeated call for outreach and solidarity, which overcomes fear and fatalism, is the only strategy that has a chance of succeeding.
A well-attended first meeting of the semester was held on February 23 at Ed Gogol's house. In addition to Ed's continued hospitality, Gary Ebersole and Kelly Pinkham have also generously offered their homes for future meetings.
The Chapter welcomed Roger Pick, Bloch School, to the Executive Committee. Roger has agreed to act as interim VP/treasurer after Alfred Esser stepped down preparatory to retiring. Other items of business included reconfirming Stu McAninch's right to vote in the name of the Chapter at the annual meeting of the Missouri Conference in St. Louis on February 24. Attendees were also reminded of an upcoming chapter event, the second AAUP Tenure Workshop on Friday March 16.
Pat Brodsky reported on the disturbing number of apparent violations of academic freedom and faculty governance currently surfacing on campus, and emphasized that the Chapter needs to continue to play a central role in protecting faculty rights. After a brief discussion, it was agreed that the Executive Committee should closely monitor these cases and others that may arise, and in the interests of quick reaction time, should make whatever statements of principle, support or protest it deemed appropriate.
A special guest speaker was Dr. Jon Scheinman, Professor of Pediatrics at Kansas University Medical Center and an activist in the KUMC AAUP chapter, who spoke about attacks on tenure, governance, and academic freedom at KU Med. Jon also conveyed an invitation from the Kansas State Conference to Missouri chapters, particularly UMKC, to collaborate on issues of common concern. As a first step, we are invited to participate in the Kansas Conference annual meeting, which will be held at KUMC on Saturday, April 14 from 11:00 till 2:30 in Beller Conference Room 1005-1007 (see announcement below). We'll send out reminders closer to that date.
For the first time, the UMKC Faculty Senate formally subsidized the work of the AAUP. In early February it voted to fund up to three participants in the joint meeting February 24 of the AAUP Missouri Conference and the St. Louis Association for Contingent Faculty. Executive Committee members Stu McAninch and Fred Lee attended under these auspices (see above Stuart McAninch's report). The chapter wishes to thank the Senate for recognizing so tangibly the importance of our work, of issues concerning contingent faculty, and of cooperation with other campuses and organizations.
A number of members have announced their pending retirement. Alfred Esser and Ana Iriarte (SBS), Ed Hood (School of Law) and Pat Brodsky (Foreign Languages) are all retiring from UMKC at the end of this academic year. Ed will continue teaching part time, and Pat plans to get back to her research while continuing her active involvement in the AAUP.
Professor Emeritus Rafael Espejo-Saavedra (Foreign Languages) is leaving Kansas City after 35 years. He and Sandra will split their year between Baltimore and Spain. Ray Riva (Foreign Languages)--a chapter stalwart in the "thin years" of the 70's and 80's--and Roxanne have moved to the West Coast.
Summer 2006 saw Lynda Payne (History) and Bill Everett (Conservatory) playing a major role as resident faculty in UMKC's very successful summer program in Sweden. Linda was also the recipient of UMRB grant in the FS 2006 competition. Pat and David Brodsky were the only American attendees at a conference in Brussels, sponsored by the European Parliament, on World War 2 Resistance. And a new grandfather clock in the E. E. Thompson Courtroom at the School of Law, hand crafted by Law Professor Robert Downs, honors Ed Hood, "a Good Irishman and a good democrat" (Perspectives, UMKC Magazine, Spring 2007, p. 16).
As always we welcome news of the members: publications, grants, travels, personal milestones. Please contact Pat Brodsky or Karen Bame to share them with the chapter.
Put it on your calendar! UMKC chapter members are invited to the Kansas State Conference annual meeting on Saturday, April 14 from 11:00 till 2:30 at KU Medical Center, 39th and Rainbow. The meeting is in Beller Conference Room 1005-1007. Parking lot is on north side of 39th Street.
Special guest is Dr. George E. Holmes, AAUP activist, President of AAUP Chapter at Howard University, and Treasurer of the Semmelweis Society, a group that focuses on peer review in medical schools.
Before the end of Winter Semester the Chapter will hold elections for the Executive Committee.
Offices on the ballot will be President, Vice-President/ Treasurer, Secretary, Membership Chair, and At-large Representative. The term of office is two years. There will be room for write-ins on the ballot.
Members are invited to run for any of the positions and to nominate candidates, including self-nomination.
Candidates are particularly needed for the position of Membership Chair, for which no one has been nominated as of press time. The Membership Chair is in charge of recruiting new members.
The At-large Representative is a designated contact person for the membership.
Please check with your colleagues before nominating them for anything!
Nominations and self-nominations should be sent by April 13 to Secretary Karen Bame, firstname.lastname@example.org
To be eligible either to run or to vote, you must be a member in good standing of both the chapter and the national AAUP.
You are eligible if you have paid both national dues and chapter dues after April 30, 2006. Please check your records.
If you're not paid up, the deadline for dues payments is April 13, 2007.
Chapter dues of $10, made out to UMKC-AAUP, should be sent to Roger Pick, Bloch School 237.
National dues information can be found at http://www.aaup.org/aaup/involved/join/
Since the national AAUP is behind in its record-keeping, ALL AAUP MEMBERS should e-mail Secretary Karen Bame, email@example.com, by April 13, 2007 confirming that you have paid your national dues since April 30, 2006. This will help us make up the eligible candidate and voter list.
Ballots will be sent out April 16 and must be returned by April 25.
The AAUP is a grass-roots organization, of and for the faculty. Your involvement can start with your participation in elections. Let that be just the beginning!
The AAUP and the Modern Language Association have jointly published a new book, Academic Collective Bargaining , edited by Ernst Benjamin and Michael Mauer. 410 pages. It aims to educate readers about the historical and practical contexts of collective bargaining.
It can be ordered from: Modern Language Association. Customer Services, 26 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10004-1789. Phone orders: 646-576-5161. Web orders: http://www.mla.org/store/CID22/PID249 .
The entire contents of each issue of The Faculty Advocate (except for public domain material) is copyrighted. The Faculty Advocate , April 2007, Copyright 2007 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Roger Pick, Bloch School 237, 816-235-2336, or email@example.com
Please make checks payable to "UMKC-AAUP Chapter."
Discounts on national dues for following categories50% 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
75% offPart Time: Faculty paid on a per course or percentage basis
$10/yrGraduate: Person enrolled as graduate student at an accredited institution; five-year limitPlease note that national dues also cover Missouri State Conference dues (but not local UMKC dues)
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