Isabel Vittorio, who, as a department chair at the fictional Austin University, had variously “been described as narcissistic, charismatic, brilliant, and opportunistic” was found slumped over her desk in the Department of Literature and Rhetoric early on a Monday morning, her neck broken. What ensues as the murder investigation unfolds is a peek inside what author Lynn C. Miller called the closed, “wonderful dysfunctional family template” of a humanities department.
Mary Burgan, former general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, is not happy about the trends she sees with regard to faculty rights. Traditional governance models are being replaced with strict hierarchies, and too many faculty members have too little influence in crucial decisions, she writes, in What Ever Happened to the Faculty? Drift and Decision in Higher Education, just published by Johns Hopkins University Press.