Gary Rhoades

From the General Secretary: What if...?

Posted on my office pegboard is a bumper sticker that reads, “Why Is That?” expressing the scholarly exploration for understanding that has defined my work for nearly thirty years. Inscribed in my consciousness is another query—what if?— invoking the creative posing of possibilities for practice that has also driven my work and will focus it as the AAUP’s general secretary.

From The General Secretary: Labor and Capital, Working for You

In the eyes of budget balancers with blinders, professors are labor costs, to be capped, furloughed, and riffed. To those with more vision, however, we are the nation’s key intellectual capital, the wellspring of future knowledge workers, and drivers of our country’s cultural, political, and economic revitalization.

From the General Secretary: What We do to Our Young

I believe in high standards for new faculty appointments and for tenure and promotion decisions. But I also believe that a growing number of institutions are using tenure standards as a lever to increase their status and are thereby compromising the future of our profession. And I believe that too often we are complicit in a process that does more harm to prospective and junior faculty than it does good for the profession as a whole.

From The General Secretary: Getting (It) Together

We have made a good deal of progress. We still have a good ways to go. But we are headed in the right direction. During the past several months, I have traveled around the country to meet with AAUP chapters and conferences. Three themes have emerged from our discussions: (1) is the AAUP’s national office getting its act together? (2) the national office and chapters and conferences need to work together more effectively, and (3) faculty need to get together in addressing the academy’s financial condition and direction.

From the General Secretary: “Naaational”

As general secretary, I have come to learn a particular connotation of the word national, one that is conveyed when the term is used as a noun and unhappily pronounced with a nasal emphasis on the “a.” This usage often occurs in the phrase, “What does naaational do for us?”—as if the AAUP’s national office is “other,” the equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service to local chapters and members.

From the General Secretary: What the AAUP Stands For

When the passenger next to me on a flight asks what I do for a living, I say I work for a nonprofit association. When he or she asks which one, I am tempted to answer, “The AARP.” One letter makes a big difference. Everyone knows what the AARP stands for. So what does the AAUP stand for?

From the General Secretary: A Faculty Voice

For me, part of the job description of a good professor is exercising a faculty voice, not just in instruction, scholarship, and extramural settings, but also with regard to institutional governance matters. Part of our responsibility, and our service to society, is to speak up and speak out. We must be an independent voice, grounded in our professional expertise and commitments.

From the General Secretary: The Freedom to Engage

The pitch made by community colleges to prospective students is not unlike that made by liberal arts colleges. Both emphasize their small classes and the personal attention students receive from professors who know their names and are available to engage and mentor them.

From the General Secretary: Academia Without the AAUP

From leaders around the country I hear that many faculty members, particularly newcomers, do not understand the AAUP’s value. “What do we get for our dues?” they sometimes ask. I’d like to consider a related question: What would academe be like without the American Association of University Professors? I title my column with a bow to the 2004 mockumentary A Day Without a Mexican, which highlights how our society could not function without the contributions made by Mexican immigrants.

From the General Secretary: Changing Our Future

We are at a transition point, as an association, that is not unlike that of the academy. Our ability to change and secure our collective future will depend on our ability to look beyond ourselves. As an association, our challenge is to attract new members and leaders who will change us for the better, even as they enrich, adapt, and extend the core values of the AAUP and the core functions of the academy. Making that transition successfully requires passing the proverbial torch and exploring new possibilities for our work.


Subscribe to Gary Rhoades