Monday, August 2, 2021

Now Available Bulletin of the AAUP (Summer 2021)--COVID and the University (and all is not Well)


The AAUP's annual Bulletin collects in one place the reports, policy statements, and official AAUP business materials of an academic year—in this case, 2020–21. Most of these documents have already been published on the AAUP website or in Academe, and the parenthetical dates after their titles refer to date of original publication. The Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors is published annually as the summer issue of Academe (or as the July–August issue prior to 2019). This table of contents links to PDFs of that print version. These PDFs will stand as the historical record for 2020–21 and will not be changed. (AAUP Bulletin Announcement)

 It comes as no surprise that the AAUP focuses its reporting this year on the most important event of this generation--COVID19. Thsi issue of Academe does an excellent job of memorializing the perspectives ad analysis of that crisis on the academy.  It also suggests the great tragedy of the faculty voice in crisis.  That tragedy is centered on the irresistible urge to assume a reactionary posture--and the discourse of a "return"--in the face of transformed conditions that will make the possibility of any such return effectively impossible.  It will be left to others, perhaps, to forge forward.  But this reporting provides a glimpse of the way in which that forward might lead backwards in the context of a industry capable of such a return.  That this is not so and that other approaches may well have to be developed may be read between the lines.

COVID-19 has fast forwarded trends that have effectively sidelined traditional faculty governance and shared governance principles.  Shared governance has been reduced effectively to a technocratic exercise.  At its best it has reduced faculty governance structures to an odd form of focus group, or worse, has absorbed  the faculty into the administrative apparatus at a low administrative level. In the process faculties have refused to embrace or neglected any effort to transform themselves into stronger instruments of accountability.  Part of that, of course, is a function of the great transformation of this century--the effective elimination of tenure except as a vestigial condition.  Faculty dependent on the renewal of contracts are hardly in a position to effectively "lean in" without substantial risk. And the technological revolution will reshape teaching and student engagement--and here it is the administration rather than faculty that are driving change.  In the meantime faculty obsession with transforming their function from research to the exercise of a role as public intellectuals--a process abetted by an administration obsessed, in turn, with short term (and quite manipulative) impact measures, has altered the value of faculty as sources of the production of knowledge.  They have become a political instrument, or on the other side, the blue collar producers of "facts" that can be consumed by the policy caste. Still there is much to lear from the orthodox narrative of the effects of COVID-19 on faculty.  Links to the articles follow.

The Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors is published annually as the summer issue of Academe. This year's Bulletin features a special report on COVID-19 and academic governance and findings from the 2020–21 Faculty Compensation Survey and the 2021 AAUP Shared Governance Survey.

Follow the links in this email or download a PDF of the entire issue at using your member log-in information.


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