A Bad Year Gone

I can hardly believe the year that has just passed.  At the beginning of it I would never have imagined that people would stop and praise me for my mastery of Robert’s Rules of Order or for my leadership on campus.  A year ago today I’d never read RRO and I was still very much a newcomer to my campus.  But then this past September the dean of Emory’s College of Arts and Sciences announced a roster of cuts to undergraduate and graduate programs and everything for me changed.

One of the programs he cut was one that my husband was teaching in as a senior lecturer, so that was an immediate incentive.  I suppose I could have then gone to the dean and tried to strike a deal, but I didn’t.  It seemed better to stand up on principle for everyone so affected, not just those with my particular circumstances. I got deeply involved because I’m a democrat all the way down, and the long-standing principles of faculty governance call for faculty control of the curricula.  Emory’s administration just swatted that principle away as if it were a gnat.  I find this abominable.

So I got deeply involved in the newly reconstituted Emory chapter of the American Association of University Professors.  And  I spoke up often during faculty meetings and occasionally on the college faculty listserv.  And I posted a bit on this blog about what was going on.

Colleges and universities across the country and the world are under financial pressure.  But the stupidest thing they can do is cut programs.  This is the time to expand the crucial role of higher education not the time to shrink it.  The leaders of my U are definitely leaning stupid.  Buck up, guys.  Get it together.  Don’t succumb to the marketization of the university.

I’m hopeful that our new provost, a gal, Claire Sterk, can help Emory chart a better direction. And maybe the board of trustees will wake from their deep slumber and realize that they have some fiduciary responsibility to make sure that the bylaws of the university, which guarantee its nonprofit status and its accreditation with SACS, are actually being followed–but which are not.

And here’s  link to Emory’s board of trustees.

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.

%d bloggers like this: