Bérubé on Salaita


The following is the text of a letter sent to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Chancellor Phyllis Wise by Michael Bérubé regarding the university’s apparent decision to revoke a job offer to Professor Steven Salaita.  Michael Bérubé is Edwin Earl Sparks Professor of Literature at Pennsylvania State University, a former president of the Modern Language Association, and a member of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.  He previously taught at UIUC.  The letter is posted with Professor Bérubé’s permission.

Dear Chancellor Wise,

I am writing with regard to your decision not to forward Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. As reported by Inside Higher Ed on August 6, this decision turned on the contents of Professor Salaita’s Twitter feed, specifically on his statements about Israel. While I do not share Professor Salaita’s sentiments with regard to content, and find them…

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The Higher Ed CFO Survey: For Whom the Bell Tolls


Last week, Gallup and Inside Higher Ed released a fascinating and troubling survey examining the opinions of CFO’s on the state of American higher education.

CFO’s from 438 colleges and universities responded to the survey. Researchers found that two-thirds of CFO’s questioned believe that higher education is facing a financial crisis. While 23 percent of CFOs at public colleges/universities and 26 percent at privates believe they can sustain their business model over the next five years, only 11 percent of CFOs at publics and 15 percent at privates think their model will hold over the next ten years.

Perhaps the word that best describes the reaction to their collective view is “yikes.”

Researchers then questioned what steps the CFO’s planned to reduce budgetary pressures ensuring the sustainability of their model. Interestingly, less than 25 percent planned to ask senior faculty to teach more students, outsource academic programs, revise tenure, offer…

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Doctoring Tenure


The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has written a five-page letter to the AAUP, which is considering an investigation of the institution because it revoked tenure and then dismissed two professors under its new system of re-evaluating faculty every seven years. The letter asks over 30 questions to the AAUP about its procedures and demands that the AAUP to justify its right to investigate the center.

Now, I don’t speak for the AAUP, and I can’t answer all these questions, but I do want to paraphrase and answer two fundamental questions posed in the letter: “What authority does the AAUP have to investigate anything?” and “Why should we protect tenure when we’re trying to lives?”

First, I could detail a long list of the AAUP’s century-old commitment to investigating cases involving academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance, or the AAUP’s almost ridiculous obsession with being unbiased and fair…

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Pasi Sahlberg: How American Innovation Improved Finnish Education

If we can’t innovate using our own studies and research, what does that say about America and our future.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The renowned Finnish educator, Pasi Sahlberg, explains how major American innovations improved education in Finland but are all too often forgotten here, where they originated.

He begins with a new report from the OECD that measures educational innovation between 2003 and 2011. The U.S. does not get high rankings from the OECD, yet oddly enough, other nations send delegations here to learn about what we do that has made us such a successful nation.

Sahlberg writes:

“An interesting observation that anyone interested in what current high-performing school systems have in common is that they all, some more than the others, have derived critical lessons from abroad. Singapore, one of the most successful reformers and highest performers in global education, has been sending students to study education in U.S. universities and encouraged university professors to collaborate in teaching and research with their American colleagues. Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea have…

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College Rankings: Why?

Network Schools - Wayne Gersen

I have held college rankings in disdain for years. They are reductionist to an extreme, measuring the easy-to-measure elements that differentiate one college from another and, because the metrics are mathematical, yielding a seemingly exact numeric differentials among colleges and universities that are, upon close inspection, inconsequential. For example, the differences between the top ranked and second ranked college in one category (say, engineering schools) may not be the same as in another category (say art schools) and the numeric difference between the third and fourth ranked college may be do different than the difference between the fourth and sixteenth ranked college within a category.

Despite my misgivings about rankings, it is evident from the sales of US News And World Report experienced when it published it’s annual ratings that most Americans love them… and based on the way colleges respond to the rankings it is evident they are valued by…

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Doubling Down on the Exploitation of Adjunct Faculty


In an article titled “Outsourced in Michigan” written for Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty chronicles the movement among Michigan’s community colleges to outsource the hiring of adjunct faculty and the management of related “payroll duties” to a corporation called EDUStaff.

EDUStaff had previously specialized in providing substitute teachers for K-12 systems. So, if you have been dismissing the warnings that what has been occurring at the K-12 level will be increasingly migrating to the postsecondary level, here is some further, very direct evidence on that pattern.

The Far Right is very clearly intent on privatizing all public services, including public education at all levels. It is not a scare tactic to assert that this is occurring. It is, instead, willful ignorance to deny that it is occurring, that it is a very serious threat, and that it demands very determined and persistent opposition.

The outsourcing of adjunct hiring in…

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Higher Ed Needs More Cash, Not More Catchwords


By Susan Gubernat

The following op-ed piece appeared in the July 25 issue of the Sacramento BeeSusan Gubernat, is Professor of English at California State University, East Bay, and secretary of the California State University system Academic Senate. She is a member of the California Faculty Association and the AAUP.

California’s public higher education systems are plagued by years of funding cuts. Everyone knows that.

All the clever ideas – the silver bullets that will “save” us – collapse in the face of one simple fact. Nobody can deliver quality higher education on the cheap. We need to fund our state universities.

Critics of public higher education cite low graduation rates and long times to get a degree as the major culprits keeping the California State University and systems like it from long-term sustainability. They note that most undergraduates take longer than four years to finish a degree…

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Corinthian Colleges: For-Profit Schools Preying on the Vulnerable While Soaking Up Tax Dollars


To really grasp the significance of what is happening to Corinthian Colleges, I urge you to read Suzanne Mettler’s new book, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.  The book is a broader exploration of the laws that shape policy for colleges and universities, but one of the topics it explores is the explosive growth of for-profit colleges after 2006, when Congress removed the rule that to qualify their students for federal loans, colleges must provide at least 50 percent of a student’s education in person.  In other words, buried in 2006 federal budget, Congress expanded federally backed student loans for colleges that provide 100 percent of a student’s education on-line.

Mettler describes soaring enrollments: “In the next five years after the demise of the 50 percent rule, enrollments nearly doubled in the for-profit sector, and revenues soared… The Apollo’s University of Phoenix…

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Palestinian-Israel conflict and Academic Freedom


Dispatches from the Underclass has a post up on academic freedom and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

I clicked on the link to the letter, and the part about the union’s collective bargaining agreement stood out:

“institutional discipline or restraint in their discussion of relevant matters in the classroom…” [the CBA prohibits]   “explicit or implicit threat of termination or discipline for the purpose of constraining a faculty member in the exercise of his or her rights under such principles of academic freedom.”


“Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.”

This was clarified later with the following:

“The intent of the 1940 statement is not to discourage what is “controversial”. Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to…

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