I also want to commend the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association and the CAUT for responding to the firing of Dr. Robert Buckingham who was dismissed after criticizing the University for its TransformUS project. This “project” designed to save $25 million at the University, was based on Robert Dickeson’s Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services. I have read the excellent critique of Dickeson’s methodology published in your USFA newsletter and will not revisit the particulars on this occasion. Suffice it to say that the main motivation driving prioritization is to cut programs at a time when higher education is being starved for resources and being transformed from being a public good into a private good whose sole purpose is to promote “economic development.” So again, the fact that you were successful in getting the decision to fire Dr. Buckingham reversed was a great victory for academic freedom.
Rudy Fichtenbaum, President
American Association of University Professors
First I want to thank the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association for inviting me to attend your Academic Freedom Event. I do not consider myself to be an expert on academic freedom. Thus, I am all the more so truly honored that you have asked me to give the keynote address this evening.
I want to begin with the proposition that the overarching threat to academic freedom today stems from the corporatization of higher education. In some respects there is nothing new about corporate control of universities. Upton Sinclair in his self published book The Goose-Step that appeared in 1922 starts by quoting James McKeen Cattell as saying:
That a professor’s salary should depend on the favor of a president, or that he should be dismissed without a hearing by a president with the consent of an absentee board of trustees, is…
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