The American Association of University Professors starts its annual meeting today in Washington. Association leaders are proud of their role in successfully arguing against the "Academic Bill of Rights," which they consider misnamed, and articulating the importance of academic freedom. But the meeting comes at a time of tension in the association, which faces a budget deficit, a search for a new general secretary and other key staffers, and a frustration over its inability to rally academe around the importance of preserving tenure-track positions.
Cary Nelson, the president of the AAUP, is Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With decades of activism on behalf of faculty unions, professors' rights generally, graduate students, and adjuncts, Nelson says he is optimistic about the future of the AAUP, despite challenges facing the association.
In a podcast interview, he discusses the state of academic freedom, the link between job security and academic freedom, the Ward Churchill case, the Spellings Commission, and more.