Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Transformation of University Governance and the Triumph of a Peculiar Ideology of Fiscalization in the American University



The American Association of University Professor (AAUP) has just announced publication of a set of quite interesting article in the Spring issue of its Academe Magazine..

The spring issue, which will be published in full in May, focuses on the campaign for a New Deal for Higher Education and builds on the work of Scholars for a New Deal for Higher Education, a group founded last year by Jennifer Mittelstadt. Follow the links below or visit to read more about the Scholars for a New Deal and the work of the faculty activists who are mapping out a new vision for the future of higher education.

Of particular interest is the "better late than never" observations of Michael Bérubé and Michael DeCesare in their Column: State of the Profession: Twin Crises. They offer a "blunt assessment as cochairs of the AAUP committee that investigated departures from AAUP-recommended standards of governance at eight institutions." From this they weave a set of observations of trends they deplore that combine the trajectories of fiscal stewardship and protection of health into a potent cocktail spiced by the principles (so current in contemporary administrative ideology) of nimble leadership and of the migration of stewardship and responsibility from a decentralized model built around engagement by university professionals and overseen by its administrators, to one in which the professionalization of administration has itself served as the basis for drawing all authority into the now separable administrative class governing the university. Far too late (the professorate is itself trapped by the logic of its own pretensions as firmly as administrators are trapped in the logic of their own caste)  they have come to realize the extent to which ideologies of governance to which they have been indifferent now serve as a powerful baseline for authenticating and legitimating decisions that effectively reduce faculty to factors in the production of goods (graduates and outside income) who are both fungible and whose employment is a function of institutional profitability as such things are measured by university administrators and driven by their boards. A de-professionalized faculty is one that is vulnerable to attack on its professional prerogatives. And yet over the course of a generation, faculty has done little to resist the incremental gnawing away of both its status and its prerogatives

Still, this lamentation is worth a careful read, if only for a glimpse at the state of affairs in university governance. But the time for lamentation has passed.  And that is the great pity and the great failing of this effort. University stakeholders are not in need of keening; they are in need of the organization of response, or a consensus that response is now impossible if the goal is to preserve the imaginary of an academic life world that is quickly receding into historical fantasy. It is in that context that the issue theme assumes its ironic character.


Imagining a New Deal for Higher Education
A vision for a more equitable and sustainable future.
By Lisa Levenstein and Jennifer Mittelstadt

Restoring the People’s Universities
CUNY, the CSU, and the promise of socially transformative education. 
By Alejandra Marchevsky and Jeanne Theoharis

Reclaiming Paul Robeson in the Time of COVID-19 
Solidarity and the Coalition of Rutgers Unions.
By Donna Murch and Todd Wolfson

A New Deal for College Teachers and Teaching 
Faculty equity = student success.
By Mia McIver and Trevor Griffey

The Miseducation of the Indebted Student 
An educational argument for full student debt abolition.
By Jason Thomas Wozniak


State of the Profession: Twin Crises
By Michael Bérubé and Michael DeCesare


Understanding Chinese Students on US Campuses
Siqi Tu reviews Ambitious and Anxious: How Chinese College Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education by Yingyi Ma.

Hope, Resistance, and Transforming Higher Education
Charles H. F. Davis III reviews Campus Uprisings: How Student Activists and Collegiate Leaders Resist Racism and Create Hope, ed. Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, Kmt G. Shockley, and Ivory Toldson.


Academic Freedom and Indentured Students
Escalating student debt is a kind of bondage.
By Jeffrey J. Williams

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