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Brandeis’ Inexplicable War Against Its Faculty [Commentary]

FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley has written a noteworthy article on the wider implications of the Brandeis University faculty revolt against its own administration in the case of professor Donald Hindley. Here are some choice excerpts:

[Brandeis Provost Marty] Krauss' assertion of arbitrary administrative power angered the Faculty Senate, which has refused to peacefully surrender its bargained-for rights. By February of this year, cooperation between faculty and administrators on discipline issues completely broke down in the wake of three scathing reports on the handling of Hindley's case. And since early March, Brandeis' Faculty Senate has been refusing even to hear discipline cases, reasoning that doing so is pointless if administrators can unilaterally make capricious and unjust decisions.

How could the utterance of one word bring faculty-administration cooperation at an American university to a grinding halt? The answer begins in the growth in size and power (and, correspondingly, in arrogance) of university administrations. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the proportion of full-time administrators in higher education finally exceeded the proportion of faculty full-timers in 2006; today, 51.4% of professionals in the field spend their time administering rather than teaching.

Today, an outnumbered faculty class is increasingly seeing its power being eclipsed or ignored by the growing number of administrators. After all, while professors must spend time teaching or researching, administrators have eight hours per day to invent new programs and engage in bureaucratic empire-building.

Along with this shift in power on campus has come a value shift, from respect for free speech and academic freedom to an insistence on universal freedom from offense or disturbance. This is no surpriseafter all, the truly free exchange of ideas is a necessity for the faculty but holds little value for administrators, who would rather not have 1960's-style student movements develop on their own campuses.

Yet administrators ignore the faculty at their peril.

Read the whole article here.

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