Friday, May 28, 2010

Confessions of a Tenured Professor


Confessions of a Tenured Professor

May 11, 2010

I must confess right off that I did not become a contingent labor activist until I turned 60, a mere six years ago. Until then, I was a fairly typical senior professor, passionately involved in teaching my students and interacting with my tenured colleagues on a variety of faculty governance committees. I have also pursued a fairly active research agenda. In addition to publishing my own scholarly articles, I have edited over a hundred books dealing with modern German literature, Jewish history and women’s studies. This year saw the publication of the third book I have written on Oskar Panizza, the 19th-century German author.

When I began teaching at Columbia and Barnard in the 1960s, almost all the positions in their German departments were tenure-track. I came to SUNY New Paltz in the 70s, when there were only a couple of virtually silent and invisible part-time adjuncts among the 35 teachers in the entire Foreign Language Division. It was not until a few years after the dawn of the new millennium that I, like Rip Van Winkle, "awoke" after decades to a brand new reality: the number of tenure-track faculty in my department had shrunk to a mere 10, while some two dozen adjuncts were now teaching the bulk of our foreign language courses. Yikes!

As everyone in academe now knows, the professoriate has experienced a radical transformation over the past few decades. These enormous changes have occurred so gradually, however, that they are only now beginning to receive attention. The general public has remained largely unaware of the staffing crisis in higher education. As contingent colleagues around the country came to outnumber the tenured faculty and as they were assigned an ever larger share of the curriculum, they became an inescapable fact of academic departmental life.

Nationally, adjuncts and contingent faculty — we call them ad-cons — include part-time/adjunct faculty; full-time, nontenure-track faculty; and graduate employees. Together these employees now make up an amazing 73 percent of the nearly 1.6 million-employee instructional workforce in higher education and teach over half of all undergraduate classes at public institutions of higher education. Their number has now swollen to more than a million teachers and growing.

I must confess that belonging to the de facto elite minority makes me very uneasy. Most tenured faculty view themselves as superior teachers with superior minds. In this view, the arduous six-year tenure process clearly proves that all of us are superior to "them" and have deservedly earned our superior jobs by our superior gifts and our superior efforts. I must also confess that we tenured faculty really do appreciate the fact that ad-cons have unburdened us from having to teach too many elementary foreign language courses, English composition and the many other tedious introductory, repetitive and highly labor-intensive classes, to which we tenured souls have such a strong aversion that it must be genetic.

[the rest of the article HERE]

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Liberal Education, Faculty Responsibility, and Public Comportment

DISCLAIMER: THE HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION DEPICTED IN THIS BLOG ENTRY IS TOTALLY FICTIONAL. ANY SEMBLANCE TO EVENTS OR PERSONS, REAL OR IMAGINED, IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.


Liberal Education is based on the ideal of rational study without prejudice—that is, the dispassionate evaluation of a topic with an open mind without prejudgment. Though I myself continually fall short of achieving this ideal, Liberal Education has provided the framework for my entire academic career, both as professor and as director of the ethics center.


In open public forums on controversial—hence, in my view, interesting—topics, Faculty have the responsibility to serve as exemplars of the ideal of Liberal Education.


One way Faculty can discharge this responsibility in open pubic discussion is to demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of a speaker’s argument, and then point to potential problems with that argument. In fact, this is what we expect of good students. The worst example a Faculty can set is to treat a topic with prejudice devoid of any demonstration of understanding the issues at hand; and, to make this scenario even worse, to mock the speaker; and, to make this worst-worst-case scenario even worse, to publicly decry “who brought in this idiot? I am so sick and tired of this [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE DETESTATION HERE] drivel.” This type of behavior violates on several levels the core principles of Liberal Education.


Consider an example. Suppose a colleague in Earth Science brings to campus one of the most esteemed climatologists to speak on the topic of global climate destabilization. After a detailed presentation based on logic and empirical data, you (let’s say a faculty member from some other discipline) stand up in front of several hundred persons—faculty, students, and other members of the campus community—and ask “does this mean Hell is going to get hotter”?


In one daft move, you have (1) demonstrated your inability—or unwillingness—to understand and assess an argument without prejudice, (2) devalued the work—possibly life work—of the visiting scholar, (3) made a mockery of the topic itself, (4) embarrassed your institution as host, and (5)—perhaps unwittingly—made a public fool of yourself. Yet most egregiously, (6) you have violated your responsibility as an exemplar of the ideal of Liberal Eduction.


As members of the professoriate, let us all be keenly aware of the responsibility that we bear in upholding the ideal upon which the entire edifice of higher eduction in the Western Intellectual Tradition is based.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Failure of Corporatized Higher Education

Different social organizations require different organizational structures. Corporations, militaries, and religions benefit from a hierarchical command-and-control organizational structure, where the leader is believed to have special skills and the greatest expertise of any other person in the organization to make difficult decisions and exhibit vision.


This sort of hierarchical command-and-control organizational structure is not appropriate for other social organizations, such as democratic bodies. In democratic bodies, there is no one person whose judgment is considered absolute and definitive.


Institutions of higher education are the latter type of social organization. Inappropriately and unfortunately, at UVU and across the nation, administrations have adopted the former model. This is a grave error, because leadership on campus based on corporate style command-and-control snubs the expertise of the faculty. Professors are professionals whose judgment ought to be trusted, and interference and meddling by the administration in faculty affairs destroys the spirit of the faculty and students who are engaged in the academic enterprise.


The serious failure I perceive in the hierarchical model of governance at institutions of higher education is, interestingly, echoed in a recent article in The New York Times by Tamar Lewin, titled “Study Finds Increasing Public Discontent With the College System” (February 17, 2010). The article starts out by stating that


Most Americans believe that colleges today operate like businesses, concerned more with their bottom line than with the educational experience of students, according to a new study.


The article continues:


And the proportion of people who hold that view has increased to 60 percent, from 52 percent in 2007.


At the same time, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said that colleges should use federal stimulus money to hold down tuition, even if it means less money for operations and programs.


The study, a joint project of Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, also found that most Americans believe that colleges could admit a lot more students without lowering quality or raising prices, and that colleges could spend less and maintain a high quality of education.


‘One of the really disturbing things about this, for those of us who work in higher education,’ said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, ‘is the vote of no confidence we're getting from the public. They think college is important, but they're really losing trust in the management and leadership.’


According to the study, ‘Squeeze Play 2010: Continued Public Anxiety on Cost, Harsher Judgments on How Colleges are Run,’ a growing share of Americans believes that college is essential to success—55 percent, compared with 31 percent in 2000. But at the same time, a dwindling share—28 percent, compared with 45 percent a decade earlier—thinks college is available to the vast majority of qualified, motivated students. ‘People are increasingly seeing themselves caught between these two trends,’ said John Immerwahr, a senior research fellow at Public Agenda and an author of the report. ‘It’s a new kind of misery index. This is really important, and it’s really inaccessible.’


The report is based on a December telephone survey of more than 1,000 Americans. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.05 percentage points.


The report found some areas of optimism. Nine in 10 Americans say it is somewhat or very likely that their own high-school-age child will attend college, and the majority believe that almost anyone who needs financial help to go to college can get loans or financial aid.


But 83 percent said that students had to borrow too much money to pay for college.


In ‘Iron Triangle,’ a 2008 study of 25 college presidents, Public Agenda and the center found that most saw an unbreakable link between the cost of running their operations, the number of students they can educate and maintaining educational quality.


To serve more students or offer higher quality education, the college presidents said, would require more money—and conversely, cuts in their budgets would inevitably translate into either a smaller number of students or diminished educational quality.


According to the new report, the public disagrees.


‘It’s nice to think that we can have guns and butter, but it's not that easy,’ said Terry Hartle, the senior vice president of government and public affairs for the American Council on Education. ‘The public is not always right.’ While it is true that colleges and universities could provide higher education for less money, Mr. Hartle said, it would require cuts in areas that most people see as fundamental to quality.


‘We probably wouldn’t have libraries open as much, we wouldn’t update I.T. regularly, we wouldn't have small classes,’ he said. ‘Running a first-class college or university costs money. It’s a very labor-intensive enterprise, in which it’s common to spend 70 to 76 percent of the budget on faculty and staff.’


As the article states, the public is not always right. But by my experience at UVU over the last several years, it is clear that on the issue of corporatized higher education, the public is dead right.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Don’t ACHE/WCHE/ICHE Me! The Workload Policy as Procrustean Bed

When AAUP President Cary Nelson visited Utah last fall, my wife Anina and I had the pleasure of taking him out to Antelope Island (“I thought the salt lake was in the middle of the city”). On the drive there, I told Cary about the workload policy (ACHE, WCHE, ICHE) that had been implemented at our institution as the result of a task force chaired by deans Henrie and Rushforth. I remarked on the absurdity of foisting a mechanistic metric on the faculty workday and the antithetical nature of such a corporatized practice in the Academy. Cary agreed, noting that the type of person who gravitates towards academe and away from corporate America typically likes the flexibility and freedom of self-directed employment, rather than punching a time clock and sitting in a cubicle 9-5 under the eye of a watchful boss.

And therein lies the difference in worldview between our academic affairs administration and the faculty: we look upon ourselves as members of a wider academic community who participate in a variety of different activities, such as teaching, mentoring, scholarship, conference organization and participation, committee work, etc., while the UVU administration views the faculty as primarily a proletarian workforce whose sole value is bringing in as many tuition dollars as possible. The problem with the corporatized command-and-control style of the academic leadership is that it ignores, if not repudiates, the importance of our other essential academic responsibilities. In other words, the ACHE/WCHE/ICHE workload policy is gauged at producing income (a corporate model) that is directly contradictory to the realities of being a contributing member of the academic community.

To this end it is worthwhile to reread the very prescient analysis of former faculty member Doug Downs (who fled UVU for Montana State University—see http://www1.english.montana.edu/faculty/downs-doug). Doug was a Faculty Senator who drafted a resolution against the workload policy:

Administrative Values in the UVU Workload Debate

Doug Downs

As a scholar and teacher of rhetorical theory and persuasive communication, I have occasion in almost every class I teach to help students understand that in everyday human relations and argument, our most foundational assumptions—our worldview—shapes our positions far more powerfully than any logic or evidence. That is because these underlying values are the lens through which we interpret the claims and data we encounter, and evidence in conflict with our first principles will nearly always be discounted or explained away.

We could look to no better example than the past two years’ debate at UVU about Faculty Workload Policy. The policy was brought to Faculty Senate in Spring 2006 as an accounting measure, a way of fairly accounting for “all” the work UVU faculty accomplish, not just portions of their teaching. On this basis, the majority of faculty encouraged their Senators to vote for the policy. What we faculty did not account for was how administrators’ values would influence implementation of the policy.

Choices, Choices, Choices

During implementation, it became clear that the policy had been shaped less by the external exigence of Regents mandateCthough that continued to be the primary administrative justification for the new policyCthan by administrative worldviews about the nature of UVU, higher education, and the roles of UVU faculty. Choices that might have led to an accounting measure which could give faculty credit for all their work instead of part of it, in actuality led to an instrument of oversight, control, and limitation.

Administrative choices regarding workload accounting included these:

(1) An overall workload number would be invented, chosen to be (defined as being) equal to the maximum teaching load in the USHE system (30 hours, SLCC). Alone among USHE institutions and beyond requirements of any Regents policy, UVU chose to invent an overall workload number and then to equate it with a maximum teaching load.

(2) Then, in the opposite direction, UVU’s maximum teaching load would be understood as equal to the overall workload number. Per the proposed overload policy, faculty would not be paid for overload until they taught more than 15 hours per semester, because only at that point would their teaching be greater than the overall workload number. Yet an equally obvious choice would have been to accept any teaching over the Regents mandated institutional average of 12 hours as overload.

(3) The institutional teaching average (for UVU, 24 hours/year) established by Regents policy would be read literally and to the letter, and Workload reports would then be used to determine with equal literalness whether UVU was following the policy or not. In contrast, other USHE schools choose to read the spirit of the Regents policy, rather than its exact wording, as setting targets or even maximums, not required averages.

(4) The concept of reassigned time—where academic or governance obligations overwrite equivalent teaching obligations—would disappear for all but the heaviest governance (chairing depts. or programs, administrative posts). Time spent on research, mentoring, and low-level service (committees, Faculty Senate, special projects) would no longer overwrite teaching but instead shift the teaching obligation to other faculty.

(5) Reduced teaching loads would be understood as cheating the system rather than as a mark of professional accomplishment or balanced workload. Champions of the workload policy—both administrators and faculty—have long valorized a transparency that has essentially meant surveillance. Faculty were blatantly promised that workload reports would provide leverage for leveling labor across departmentsCif by labor we understood only teaching. Never was it an option to bring departments with unreasonably high teaching loads down to the level of departments with lower loads.

(6) Regents policy would not be questioned, challenged, or resisted. Despite the fact that by national norms and peer standards, USHE institutions carry high teaching loads (which are then contractually ignored by institutions such as the U of U), UVU administrators chose to accept rather than gently resist or even question these policies. Only after tremendous faculty outcry months into the implementation process did administrators choose to pursue informal discussions with individual sympathetic regents about Regents policy itself.

(7) Reports on workload from other USHE institutions would be taken at face valueCas uninterpretable, inerrant indicators of reality, to the exclusion of any contrasting or undermining evidence. For example, the U of U’s workload report showing the institution meeting its 18-hour average teaching load was taken at face value, while our administrators shut their eyes to the reality that U of U faculty habitually teach a maximum of six hours per semester, and TAs (who do most of the teaching) are limited to the same load. (Not to mention habitual sabbaticals, fellowships, and other releases that mean few faculty actually teach 6 hours/semester for more than two years in a row.) UVU would choose to ignore this other evidence of workload realities.

(8) The most restrictive possible definitions and interpretations would be chosen regarding what counts as teaching and what elements of work count as academic and governance credit-hour equivalents. Regents policy leaves considerable room for interpretation; other schools choose to use that room to generate favorable workload reports. UVU administrators chose not to.

The Values Behind the Choices

While the Workload policy was consistently presented to faculty as the only available path given the overarching and unbending Regents policies involved, the analysis above suggests that a variety of other paths were in fact available. Choices are usually an excellent indicator of worldview and foundational assumptions; these visible choices on workload reveal some values and worldviews of higher education that seem to shape administration’s reasoning. So what values are suggested by the paths that UVU has taken? Further, to what extent are those values in the best interest of UVU faculty as professional scholars in academic fieldsCas members of the higher-education enterprise more broadly?

Affordability. When existing faculty do less teaching, but the total teaching needing to be done does not decline, more faculty must be hired. Faculty are expensive. The more teaching they do, the more cost effective they are. Thus, administration has a tremendous disincentive to account for all the work faculty do; as long as faculty appear to do less work, higher teaching loads must be embraced. Thus, workload definitions have been developed and carefully calibrated to account only for as much work as administration feels it can afford, rather than all the work faculty might deserve to have counted as work.

Vocational Teaching. What can we conclude about the values of an administration that actively avoids opportunities to balance classroom teaching with other professional pursuits (particularly mentoring and research)? Whether intended or not, the effect is quite simply to atrophy faculty’s connections to their profession, stunting their careers and reducing their mobility. The administration clearly values the notion that faculty’s primary role is to get in the classroom and teach, regardless of the fact that this is the narrowest, most limited, least professional understanding of teaching possible.

I serve, for example, on the editorial board of a national journal of undergraduate research on writing (Young Scholars in Writing). Along with steering the journal, in the last year I reviewed seven submissions, of which three were accepted for publication, leading to an editorial and mentoring relationship with their writers during several months of additional drafting and revision. (And I write detailed reviews of rejected manuscripts, recommending potential revisions.) I also mentored three of my own students in turning course papers into submissions, all of which were accepted. My hours devoted to this journal last year topped 100—over two solid weeks worth of work, stretched across 6 months. It is among the most professional teaching I have ever done. Yet my administration has chosen a workload accounting system in which this teaching effort goes unremarked and uncounted. How can I not believe it is most interested in a more restricted and narrower, vocational sense of teaching based only in the lecture-classroom?

Trust and Obey. In my church we sing this hymn “Trust and Obey.” Religious venues are the place for faith and trust in one’s divine leaders, for a spirit of meek submission to divine authority and will. Such values, though, should not characterize the relationship between an institution and its governing body. The evidence of what we care about is in our willingness to defend it, to enter conflict over it (no matter how distasteful or even hopeless conflict might be), to struggle on behalf of what we say we care about. When our administration will not even attempt to reason with our Regents over workloadCmuch less resist policies that are detrimental to a professional faculty—it says something about what our administrators believe is worth fighting for. Based on faculty’s own struggles with administration on workload, what our administration seems to believe is worth fighting for is an affordable, vocational, and obedient faculty whose classroom time is counted and valued and whose other work is, largely, not.

Where Things Stand

As co-author of a Faculty Senate resolution against workload implementation last spring—based on many of the concerns the analysis above must raise—I was unsure what effect we would have. (Senate votes are not binding on the administration.) But the resolution voiced concerns that were being discounted as the mutterings of a few extreme malcontents. It demonstrated the breadth of faculty concern, leading the President to establish a faculty/administration committee to review workload implementation.

The committee hosted an open meeting in the Fall to hear faculty concerns, which were eloquently expressed by several leading faculty on campus. While workload reporting continues unabated, administration has agreed to work with the Regents on interpreting policy on teaching load. And the Workload Implementation Taskforce seems interested in broadening definitions and adding to the lists of “what counts” in teaching, academic, and governance labor.

We have not, though, seen any indication of changed values, and values shape both policies and the questions asked of those policies. Until we see changes in those underlying values, faculty would do well to save a trust-and-obey approach for more divine venues than the UVU campus.

It is my strong opinion that the workload policy has had the opposite result than that intended by our administrative leaders: rather than getting “more work” out of the faculty, the faculty, demoralized at not being appreciated and their work valued, have pulled back and devote less time to campus activities. The workload policy has had a demeaning effect on morale; it sends the message from the administration to the faculty that, like miscreants, we cannot be trusted to put in a full days work, and need an ACHE/WCHE/ICHE mechanistic to make sure we are living up to our responsibilities. What the human resource managers in the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Deans Council have not realized is that the Faculty will perform at much higher levels if we are respected, appreciated, and trusted.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Excerpts from Our Recent Letter to Our Administrators

I add to David's fine essay the thought that members of the university administration who act unilaterally and without regard to due process may be a fourth major threat to academic freedom. In that regard, let me include the following in this discussion.

After stating the particulars of a case in which a faculty member on tenure track was fired without the due process required by policy, we ended our recent letter to UVU administrators with the following more general statement:

Issues like this make a difference in our ability to act responsibly as faculty and administrators of the university. We hope to continue to work with you on matters of academic freedom and due process, and trust that this case can be dealt with in a speedy and fair manner.

Finally, this case follows a disturbing pattern we have noted previously. Professor Hyunme Lee, for instance, also from the Art Department and also under the deanship of Kathie Debenham, was not given due process in her tenure deliberations, a fact that was recognized by your administration after we made the case and which was duly remedied (although by that time Hyunme had decided she no longer was willing to work for the university or in that department). Further, when Professor Lyn Bennett was accused of bias, in successive years, by a candidate for a job in the History Department, she was twice removed from the search committee by Pat Forbes, with no chance to face the accuser or defend her actions. Dean Yells wrote a letter after the fact to Professor Bennett defending her right to be on the committee, but your administration has still not issued an apology or admission of mishandling the case. Your response was that a policy should be written on faculty grievance procedures. Although the Senate is currently considering such a policy, the actions taken against Professor Bennett were still violations of her academic freedom and haven’t been addressed.

In light of these three cases in the past two years, only one of which was resolved, we recommend more careful attention to faculty rights under policy.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Three Threats to Academic Freedom at Utah Valley University

Freedom of inquiry, unfettered by political pressure, is the √©lan vital of the academic enterprise. Professors are professionals, and part of the essence of being a “professional” is possessing public trust. The trust granted to us, the professoriate, is academic freedom. Claims to academic freedom are legitimate if the inquiry furthers understanding of the condition of humanity and/or the processes of nature.

Defense of academic freedom is a central focus of our campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors (UVU-AAUP).

As an issue which transcends the partisan politics of town hall, academic freedom is neither “liberal” nor “conservative.” Inaccurately identified with the left by the right, the brute reality is that no professor is immune from interference, meddling, subversion, and suppression of academic work for non-academic pretexts. Violation of the academic freedom of “conservative” professors is as much as a possibility as violation of the academic freedom of “liberal” professors; that Condoleezza Rice has not been glowingly welcomed to return to Stanford on account of some of her neoconservative positions in the Bush Administration should catch the attention of the former group. The professoriate, regardless of political orientation, must join together in defending the integrity of the academic enterprise by defending the fundamental right to freedom of inquiry. To this end, the UVU-AAUP is categorically apolitical.

What are some current threats to academic freedom confronting the faculty on our campus? Three immediately come to mind.

(1) The “balance” criterion. Prima facie, calls for “balance” appear to be reasonable. It seems sensible that the academic programming of any institution of higher education should be “balanced”—that is, juxtaposing alternate viewpoints for the sake political neutrality—until one realizes that the notion of balance is itself overtly political.

“Balance” is political because “balance” is relative—relative to some political norm. Calls for “balance” at UVU would seem to be a call for rough equality of traditionalist and progressivist viewpoints in the academic program. But this is certainly not what calls for “balance” really mean: locally the term implies something like 80% traditionalist/20% progressivist, or 90/10, or—best—100/0. Therefore, what might pass for “balance” in Orem might make UVU look like the leaning tower of Pisa by national standards, in immediate danger of toppling over. Therefore, since normative equipoise is subjective and culturally relative, calls for “balance” are not constructive.

(2) The “community values” criterion. Since the campus circus springing up around Michael Moore and Sean Hannity in a curious effort at striking “balance” from the spectacle of two extremists, there has been a noticeable, growing sense of entitlement by some local taxpayers and politicians (vide The College Times, November 21, 2005, A3) to intrude in campus matters in open disrespect for professional educators.

Their argument has been, generally, that campus operations, including curriculum development and even the hiring of faculty (vide The Salt Lake Tribune, December 9, 2004, and The Deseret News, December 11, 2004), should reflect the common morality of the “community”—that is, “community values.” References to “THE values of THIS community” slide easily off the tongue and sound sweet to many ears. But if one is interested in the semantic precision most professors prize, the concept is flawed beyond any hope of repair.

Whether a “community” is defined in terms of geography, religion, language, vocation, or race, the definition is always subject to exception and stipulation. Even cohesive religious communities do not enjoy consensus on primary values. The criterion of identifying a community based on simple similarity is not self-sufficient: a community can only be identified by contrasting it to something else which it is not. Since the sum of individuals living together in a particular location at a particular time will never universally share the same “values,” the notion of a community based on “shared values” is an artifice based on exclusion. The “community” is not a self-sufficient entity, but a precipitate from a plane of multiplicity. Utah County, perhaps disturbingly to some, is no exception.

“Community values” exist nowhere except in the eyes of their political beholders. Around here, the pariahs of “community values” are simply those who by the definition of those doing the defining do not happen to conform to the hegemonic agenda du jour. Worse, to privilege one set of “values” at the exclusion of others directly contradicts the ideal of American pluralism.

Thus, like the abuse of “balance,” the use of “community values” as some kind of normative benchmark for determining the soundness of academic content must be dismissed out-of-hand. The tangible outcome of using “community values” as a standard for curriculum development—such as inserting supernaturalism into the natural science curricula or purging Marx from political science courses—would be the certain loss of accreditation. That would do Utah Valley no good.

I have heard numerous faculty express worry that the rhetoric of “regional university” and “communities of engaged learners” is really a ruse to foist the “community values” criterion onto Academic Affairs and bring syllabi in line with the political and religious agendas of powerful community leaders. Thankfully, no evidence exists—yet—to substantiate these worries. Were evidence to appear, however, such external political interference into the internal operations of Academic Affairs could not be tolerated.

(3) Increasing Ratios of Part-Time Faculty to Full-Time Faculty. Campuses across the nation have seen sharp increases in the numbers of part-time (adjunct) instructors hired instead of full-time tenure-track faculty (vide Alan Finder, “Decline of the Tenure Track Raises Concerns at Colleges,” The New York Times, November 20, 2007, A1 passim). Administrators justify the trend by citing tight budgets: part-time faculty often carry full-time teaching loads but are paid only a fraction of what full-time professors earn and are not eligible for benefits.

Aside from the problem of such obvious exploitation, another deleterious consequence lurks: part-time faculty who run afoul of the politics of administrators and powerful community members can be fired easily, the termination explained in terms of financial exigency. The result is that part-time instructors understandably tend to be reticent in expressing themselves on controversial topics or engage in the governance of the institution for fears of retribution.

Willingness to express one’s scholarly findings is a function of shared respect within the institutional setting. When a large portion of teachers on a campus do not feel comfortable about expressing their opinions, the vitality of the institution is weakened. The number of part-time faculty at UVU threatens the cultivation of a vibrant academic atmosphere.

These three threats to academic freedom will manifest themselves in different ways in different combinations as we collectively learn what it means to have a public university in the neighborhood. I intuit that this learning process will cause growing pains, like an adolescent entering adulthood, but that we will all be better off for it in the long run.

As your colleague, I defend your right—including those of you with whom I respectfully but adamantly disagree—to discuss the findings of your scholarship and research publicly inside and outside of the classroom. I even vow to listen. As Director of the Center for the Study of Ethics, I defend Phil Gordon's artistic freedom to alienate audience members during his reading at the recent Conference by the Faculty (two thirds of the audience walked out), and I reserve the right to question the wisdom of doing so.

The UVU-AAUP has been formed to protect the essential right of academic freedom. Hopefully the chapter will end up being no more than a peer network providing mutual support and organizing an occasional symposium on the necessity of academic freedom for higher education and civil society. But one thing is for sure: without academic freedom, the Academy is gutted and rendered useless. External political pressures continuously eat away at this freedom. These incursions must be repulsed and autonomy of inquiry vigilantly protected.

We must actively defend the integrity of our chosen profession.