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Scholar-Activist Cary Nelson Elected AAUP President

Other National Officers and Council Members Chosen in 2010 Election

For Release: April 16, 2010
Contact: Cary Nelson or Robin Burns

Washington, D.C.—Cary Nelson, a well-known scholar-activist, has been elected president of the American Association of University Professors for a third two-year term. Nelson is professor of English and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An author or editor of twenty-five books and the author of 150 articles, he has served on the AAUP's National Council for ten years, six as second vice president and the last four as president.

In such books as No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom (2010), Manifesto of a Tenured Radical (1997), Academic Keywords: A Devil's Dictionary for Higher Education (1999), and Office Hours: Activism and Change in the Academy (2004), the last two co-authored with Stephen Watt, Nelson has written widely on most of the major issues confronting the academy: academic freedom, collective bargaining, contingent labor, corporatization, globalization, the Internet, political correctness, sexual harassment, and the relationship between teaching and research. He regularly lectures around the United States and abroad and is frequently interviewed about higher education. A book about his work and career, Cary Nelson and the Struggle for the University: Poetry, Politics, and the Profession, with contributions by twenty scholars, was published in 2009.

Nelson based his candidacy on his accomplishments during the past four years, citing examples such as the implementation of the AAUP's largest-ever educational and membership outreach to U.S. faculty, through which the Association contacted over 350,000 individuals. He sees the ongoing recession presenting higher education with the greatest threats in over half a century to academic freedom, shared governance, and faculty status. He plans to continue the AAUP’s aggressive outreach programs, implement a progressive dues structure for non-collective-bargaining members that will help recruit younger faculty members, and continue his efforts to maximize the AAUP’s visibility. 

Nelson’s primary field of scholarship is modern American poetry. His books Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory, 1910–1945 (1989) and Revolutionary Memory: Recovering the Poetry of the American Left (2001) have been at the center of the effort to reform and expand the American poetry canon. But he has also been an academic activist for years, defending the rights of graduate students and part-time faculty and joining union rallies across the country. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Modern Language Association as well. Nelson is widely recognized as a frank and witty commentator on the politics of higher education. He is married to Paula A. Treichler, a University of Illinois faculty member internationally known for her work on AIDS.

Wendy Roworth, professor of art history at the University of Rhode Island, was elected first vice president of the AAUP. Estelle Gellman, professor of educational psychology at Hofstra University (N.Y.), was re-elected second vice president. Howard Bunsis, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University, was re-elected secretary-treasurer.

National Council Elections

The AAUP also elected members to its national Council, the governing body of the Association. The forty-member Council meets twice a year to determine Association policy. Each year, a nominating committee selects members to stand for election. This year, the membership elected nine new at-large members of Council. The newly elected or re-elected Council members with their affiliations are listed below. Incumbents are designated by an asterisk.

Deanna D. Wood (Library), University of New Hampshire
Jane L. Buck (Psychology), Delaware State University
*Jacqueline Arante (English), Portland State University (Ore.)
*Charles Parrish (Political Science), Wayne State University (Mich.)
Sheila Teahan (English), Michigan State University
Rana Jaleel (American Studies), New York University
Jeffrey Williams (English), Carnegie Mellon University (Penn.)
Richard Gomes (ESL), Rutgers University (N.J.)
*Steve Aby (Bibliography), University of Akron (Ohio)
The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, shared governance, and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has over 48,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Media Contact: 
Cary Nelson or Robin Burns
Publication Date: 
Friday, April 16, 2010