The Minnesota ACADEME Fall, 2002

The Minnesota A C A D E M E


Fall, 2002

 

The Minnesota Conference of the AAUP

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In this issue:

State Conference Forms Committee A P. 1

Report on the National Meeting, by Michael Mikolajczak P. 1

Results of the State Executive Committee Elections P. 3

How to Contact the AAUP P. 4

AAUP Leadership Workshop in Minneapolis P. 5

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Minnesota forms Committee A on Academic Freedom

The Minnesota State Conference has organized its own Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Longtime AAUP activist Wayne Wolsey (Macalester College) has volunteered to head up the committee. All inquiries regarding academic freedom and tenure cases should be directed to Wayne at 651-696-6352 or wolsey@macalester.edu. He can also be reached at: Dr. Wayne Wolsey, Chemistry Department, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105-1899. Also on the committee with Wayne is George Chu (Hamline University).

Committee A deals with cases of tenure and academic freedom. If faculty have concerns about academic freedom or tenure decisions on their campus we urge them to explore all mechanisms available to them at their home institution.

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The Various "Distances" from the Core Values of The Academy

Part I

Michael Allen Mikolajczak

Professor of English

University of St. Thomas

The theme of the eighty-eighth annual meeting of the AAUP, held June 6-9 in Washington, D.C., was "distancing education"-an examination of "the effects of technology, commercialization, and hiring trends on the quality and viability of higher education."

In her presidential address, Jane Buck (University of Delaware) reflected on three kinds of distancing at work in the academy: the psychological/physical distance between faculty and students, the distance within the academy itself as it should be and as it is, and money, that distance which keeps deserving students out of the academy. She emphasized that "there is no adequate substitute for face to face interaction" between faculty and students, that certain topics or subjects are inappropriate for the electronic medium, and that distance education ventures are not "the cash cows" they are often touted as. Buck cautioned against a "thoughtless plunge into cyberspace." She also criticized the growing tendency to turn the academy into a profit center and a production line for corporate workers. Finally, she noted the ways in which rising tuitions and falling grants were keeping students of poor or modest means from higher education.

David L. Kirp, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California-Berkeley, delivered a chilling luncheon address, "Money Changers in the House of Intellect"–two case studies of the "corporatization of the academy" and the implications for academic freedom, faculty governance, and academic standards. He deplored the "rise of the market as a fact and ethic" in the academy. His first case study was deeply ironic, involving Mr. Jefferson's campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, the Darden School of Business has become so corporatized that it is moving to self-sufficiency (already it sets its own tuition and faculty-salary scale), and within five years it will be receiving no public money. It sees itself as a "franchise" of the University of Virginia, and although it contributes 10% of its annual income to the University of Virginia (to use the Virginia name), it does not support the university library. Mr. Jefferson's original, elegant campus has grown increasingly shabby as state funding has fallen, while a mile away the Darden campus is sparkling, up-to-date, and well-groomed, and sports signs in some areas reading, "For Darden students and faculty only."

But there is more. The Darden School, in and of itself, is a threat to its academic freedom. Its Executive Education Program is the "cash cow" of the place, and it has begun to determine the outlook, course, and curriculum of the whole school. Moreover, companies that are sending employees to the program are demanding that it use "proprietary material"; in other words, they want the program to teach only the company's data to its students.

According to Kirp, the cost of the Darden arrangement with the University of Virginia (fast becoming a holding company) is monumental for core academic programs and for research. The upside is that, according to Business Weekly, Darden now is one of the top ten business schools in the nation.

Kirp's second case study was of Dickinson College, which he called "a tragedy of the common story" because every college and university is doing likewise-aggressively marketing its "programmatic brand." In 1999, Dickinson hired the president of Sylvan Learning Centers as its president, who set out to shape the vision of the school and to fix its niche in the market. The goals of the college are even printed on laminated cards, and financial aid is being meted out strategically. The more interest a prospective student reveals in Dickinson–e.g., through the nature of the first contact with Admissions, a request for early admission, a visit to campus–the smaller the financial-aid package. At issue here, among other things, is an ethical question involving secrecy v. transparency in the admissions process.

However, the quality of students has risen at Dickinson, and faculty voted to give up a salary increase in order to increase scholarship funding. In arguing for Dickinson's "programmatic brand" (strong in foreign languages and international programs), the president opined, "No one dies of English."

Darden and Dickinson provide several important "lessons" according to Kirp:

David Kirp’s book Higher Education Goes to Market will be published next year by Harvard University Press.

 

The morning session of 8 June had two interesting reports. The first, from Dr. Joseph A. Losco (Political Science, Ball State University), was about the controversial production of Terence McNally's Corpus Christi at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. The play allegorizes Christ as a gay man and was condemned as "blasphemous," "offensive," and the misuse of "tax money against religion." The show went on. And, the number of performances had to be increased from two to five.

Second, Barbara Clark Smith (Curator, Division of Social History) and Paul Forman (Curator, Division of Science, Medicine and Society) of the National Museum of American History reported on a continuing controversy at the Smithsonian. The issue is "good" v. "bad" history; "market-appeal" v. history; "entertainment" v. history; Smithsonian values v. Disney ones. Smith and Forman reported a "growing isolation from scholarship" at the Smithsonian in response to a "corporate culture" relying overmuch on marketing. And, "a fear of debate" has seated itself at one of our country's most venerable institutions. The question here is this. With respect to its cultural and educational institutions, are citizens of the United States "the public" or "the market"? Are they people of Thomas Jefferson or Walt Disney? Obviously, they are both. But whose values should prevail at the Smithsonian in the presentation of history? Do we, I ask, want to go back to the hagiography of George Washington by Parson Weems?

Part II of Michael Mikolajczak's report on the national meeting will appear in the next issue.

 

Report on the Elections to the Executive Committee

Dave Emery (St. Olaf College) was elected to another two-year term as Conference Treasurer. Two new directors were also elected: Jane Carrol (College of St. Catherine) and George Chu (Hamline University). Carroll and Chu will serve for two years. Eric Wiertelak (Macalester College) was appointed to fill the year remaining in Steve Gudeman's (University of Minnesota) term. Steve is on sabbatical this year. Michael Mikolajczak (University of St. Thomas) was appointed to fill the year remaining in Karen Vogel’s (Hamline University) term as secretary. Congratulations to David, Jane, George, Eric, and Michael!

A change in the conference bylaws was also approved. Beginning in 2004-2005. The term of the Treasurer will be 4 years.

How to Contact the AAUP

Use the AAUP website for information on national events, services provided by the AAUP, and membership: . You may also call the national office at 202-737-5900 or toll free at 800-424-2973.

Or, you may contact any one of the state executive committee members listed below.

President: Marsha Blumenthal, University of St. Thomas

Vice President: Michael Livingston, St. John's University

Past President: Anne Pick, University of MN- TC

Treasurer: Dave Emery, St. Olaf College

Secretary: Michael Mikolajczak, University of St. Thomas

Director: Jane Carroll, College of St. Catherine

Director: George Chu, Hamline University

Director: Cecilia Konchar Farr, College of St. Catherine

Director: Eric Wiertelak, Macalester College

 

 

AAUP Leadership Workshop in Minneapolis–Not Just for Leaders!

The Assembly of State Conferences and the Collective Bargaining Congress of the AAUP are holding their annual Leadership Workshop in Minneapolis on Saturday, October 26th. This daylong conference is not just for leaders. It is for anyone who is active or wishes to be active in the AAUP. The workshop includes sessions on chapter development, the role of the AAUP chapter in shared governance, and on lobbying. Attendance is open to all AAUP members. Cost of registration is $15. The workshop begins at 8:30 on Saturday, October 26th and runs until 5:15. You information on registration go to http://www.aaup.org/events/02MN.htm.

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