Published comments and links to news stories are made available on this blog as a service by the AAUP - UI chapter to provide context and enrich the discussion of core issues, including academic freedom, shared governance, professional values, and standards for higher education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the AAUP UI chapter or AAUP - National. Visitors may view and/or subscribe to official statements, press releases, and announcements on the chapter's main homepage (www.aaup-uiowa.org).

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November 17, 2015

Discussion of 2015 University of Iowa Presidential Search

Discussion of 2015 University of Iowa Presidential Search:

The Ethics of the University of Iowa Selection Process Moderator: Peter Welch Panelists: Katherine Tachau, Leon Tabak, Sara Riley




As seen on "Ethical Perspectives on the News 2015 11-15"

November 14, 2015

Frank Pasquale on The End of College : Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere


The University of Nowhere: The False Promise of “Disruption”

FOR TWO DECADES, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has advanced a sweeping account of “disruption” as an explanation for business history, and as the key to its future. According to disruption theory, nimble competitors replace established firms by developing rival products. Initially cheap and of poor quality, these rival products end up dominating markets. From Amazon to Zillow, disrupters reign.

Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation electrified the consultant class, and its influence soon extended far beyond business. Thought leaders aimed to disrupt government. Christensen co-authored books telling hospital and university leaders to shake up their operations. His public statements now suggest that virtually every facet of human existence can be improved by implementing disruptive principles. Why, he asks, buy a single painting for your apartment, when digital gallerists can email your flatscreen “a fresh piece of art” every three weeks? Disruption has become a theory of everything, set to catapult Christensen to guru status as scholar, consultant, and sage.

And yet the last couple of years have not been kind to him. Historian Jill Lepore’s devastating New Yorker profile portrayed Christensen as an academic lightweight, who downplays evidence that large, stable companies can sustain their business models. Business researchers Andrew A. King and Baljir Baatartogtokh have strengthened Lepore’s case. As Lee Vinsel observes, they found “only 9 of 77 cases that Christensen used as examples of disruptive innovation actually fit the criteria of his own theory.” Given these embarrassments, it may be time to consign “disruption” to the dustbin of stale management theory buzzwords.

But Christensen’s zombie ideas are too politically convenient to disappear — and particularly so in the education sector. Tax-cutting, budget-slashing politicos are always eager to hear that education could be much, much cheaper. The Clayton Christensen Institute had a starring role at a recent Senate Hearing attacking traditional accreditation standards. In Silicon Valley and Wall Street, talk of “disrupting education” mobilizes investors and excites startups. Kevin Carey’s The End of College is the latest book to seize the imagination of disrupters. It touts massive changes for post-secondary education.

How massive? For Carey, a great deal of instruction should be commoditized, with free or near-free content as accessible as YouTube videos of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Most research universities shouldn’t just shrink. They should “reform” themselves to the point of unrecognizability, or dissolve into the internet ether. We should not mourn them, says Carey, but “shatter” them outright; they are, he believes, “grotesquely expensive and shamefully indifferent to undergraduate learning.”

Carey hopes that online courses combined with tiny, impromptu “learning communities” will end college as we know it, replacing it with a “University of Everywhere.” His utopian vision, however, is premised on inconsistent values and aims. The likelier result of his policies is a University of Nowhere by way of shifty firms marketing ad hoc vocational education of questionable value or relevance.



The Two Faces of Kevin Carey
full review ...

October 27, 2015

AAUP Response to Harreld and Faculty Council

by Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

The University of Iowa chapter of the American Association of University Professors on Monday criticized recent statements from President-Elect J. Bruce Harreld, who vowed to honor the campus’ core values, and the UI Faculty Council, which expressed appreciation for Harreld’s support.

“Given the circumstances of Mr. Harreld’s hiring, we are unable to credit his recent statement to the campus to the extent the Faculty Council has done,” according to the AAUP statement, made public Monday. “Compromised academic values cannot be revalidated by a mere declaration of support.”

And, referencing the Board of Regents search process that AAUP officials call “fundamentally flawed,” Monday’s statement argues the Faculty Council has no authority to legitimize “the outcome of an autocratic process that disregarded the principles of academic integrity.”

Harreld was chosen Sept. 3 to start as the 21st UI president Nov. 2. The former IBM and Boston Market Company executive, who has no academic administrative experience, was among four finalists introduced to campus in late August and early September.

news story...

October 22, 2015

Regent Subhash Suhai addresses concerns over hiring process for University of Iowa president

Hear Regent Subhash Suhai address concerns over hiring process for University of Iowa president:
 Audio

Iowa regent says he's ‘angry' about University of Iowa presidential search process

IOWA CITY — One day after hundreds of University of Iowa faculty, staff, students and community members packed the Board of Regents meeting waving signs and shouting “resign” at board members, Regent Subhash Sahai said certain aspects of the presidential search process made him “angry” and “mad.”
Sahai, who made his comments during the second day of a two-day board meeting on the UI campus, said he wanted to address the protesters and the concerns that have been raised around the board’s appointment of J. Bruce Harreld as the university’s 21st president.
Sahai stood by the selection but also said he didn’t know about previously-undisclosed meetings Harreld had with five other regents before the application deadline and was “sad about this revelation.”
His exact words to board staff were, “I am pissed,” he said Thursday.
“I am being strong in these words because I love this place,” Sahai said.

 news story...

Accidental Activists

By Colleen Flaherty

Hans Joerg Tiede is a professor of computer science at Illinois Wesleyan University, but he’s also an historian -- at least of the American Association of University Professors. Tiede, a member of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, has been telling the organization’s story at various events this year as it celebrates its centennial. He’s also penned its creation story in a new book out from Johns Hopkins University Press called University Reform: The Founding of the American Association of University Professors. The book chronicles the circumstances, events and personalities that led to the formation of the AAUP in 1915, and also takes on certain myths about its creation -- primarily the idea that it has always been an organization primarily dedicated to defending professors’ rights.

Tiede, who will begin a staff stint with the AAUP’s national office of tenure, academic freedom and governance in January, answered questions about the book and about how he thinks AAUP might evolve in the next 100 years to stay relevant.

Q: The AAUP today is synonymous with academic freedom. But you argue that the AAUP originally formed to advance the professionalization of the professoriate, similar to the role of the American Bar Association for lawyers. What exactly does that mean, and how did university governance structures in 1915 differ from what they look like today on many campuses, with faculty senates?

A: In 1915, trustees and regents regularly exercised much more direct control over day-to-day operations of the university than they do now. They often viewed professors as their employees, or “hired men,” to use a term of derision the founders of the AAUP employed, and treated them accordingly. The founders of the AAUP wanted to establish a role for the faculty in institutional governance that would make them the equals of the trustees rather than their subordinates. Academic freedom was an important part of changing the role of professors, since it directly related to their professional autonomy, but it was only one part in the overarching goal of the AAUP. A term that AAUP co-founder Arthur Lovejoy [a professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University] employed to describe his vision of the university was that of a “self-governing republic of scholars.” While he saw a role for trustees in oversight, he did not believe that they should have final authority over academic matters.

The rhetoric the founders of the AAUP employed to criticize the existing form of university governance mirrored the form in which Progressive Era reformers criticized the existing form of political order in the United States, which they thought should be modified to account for changes in modern society. The lay governing board was seen as an outdated, colonial-era invention, which are terms that were used by some political reformers to describe the U.S. Constitution. The AAUP was very much a product of Progressive Era thought, which is the reason for my choice of the title of the book: University Reform. The founders of the AAUP saw the association as a movement for a reform of the university that would bring greater power to the faculty.

Q: When did academic freedom emerge as a focus for the AAUP? And can you talk a little bit about the Edward Ross case?

full interview ...