B. Robert Kreiser, who joined the Association’s staff in July 1982, retired in the middle of August. In his thirty-one years as a staff member in what is now the Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance, Bob has become legendary both inside and outside the national office for his conscientious and exhaustively thorough approach to his responsibilities; his passionate defense of Association principles; the depth and breadth of his knowledge of AAUP policy; his skills as a writer, editor, and proofreader; and his empathy when advising faculty members in difficult circumstances.
During his tenure at the AAUP, Bob has participated in the formulation of scores of key policy documents and reports, has handled thousands of cases and complaints, and has staffed twenty-nine investigations, including most of the Association’s governance investigations in the past thirty years, the last of which culminated in the recently published report on the attempt by the University of Virginia Board of Visitors to remove the university’s president. Bob’s expertise in the area of academic governance resulted from providing staff support to the Committee on College and University Governance during the majority of his years with the Association. Among his editorial activities, Bob has served as an associate editor of Academe and, most notably, has shepherded into print five successive editions of AAUP Policy Documents and Reports (the “Redbook”).
While applauding his more widely known qualities and contributions, Bob’s fellow staff members have also come to appreciate others, among them his warm and caring personality, his keen sense of humor, his patient willingness to advise his less experienced colleagues, his generosity in providing detailed critiques of their written work, and his supportive and encouraging attitude, manifested most notably by his bestowal of ungrudging praise when he believes they have done something well.
At the June meeting of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, Bob received a number of tributes from committee members who had worked with him during his long tenure at the AAUP. One of them, a former AAUP president, had the following to say about Bob’s contribution:
Both before and since my service as president, the Association has been buffeted by budgetary crises, leadership conflicts, and staffing shortages. There have been recurrent explorations of the possible absorption of the AAUP into the other major labor organizations that have, for four decades now, come to represent so many in higher education—and that have a far larger staff complement and more active cash registers. Why, in all that time, has the Association never imploded or been supplanted by these competitors? The reason is to be found in our distinctive services, in our ability to shape and articulate the values that are unique to higher education and to be seen as the guardian of those values. It is principally the dedication, skills, and insights of Bob Kreiser and his colleagues on the Committee A staff that account for those unique accomplishments. How has that work been done, all of these years, with only three or four staff members? To know Bob is to know the answer. Although he will surely be irreplaceable, he serves as a compelling exemplar for his successor.
In his retirement, Bob plans to spend more time with his four granddaughters and to conduct research on several notable past AAUP investigations as well as on a couple of projects in his field of French history that he has neglected for the past three decades.