The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 19, 2012
AAUP Election Results Reflect Backlash Against Recent Leadership Decisions
By Peter Schmidt
A slate of candidates calling for an overhaul of the American Association of University Professors has trounced its opponents in elections to that organization’s top offices, with the results reflecting the growing strength of the group’s union-focused wing and a backlash against the AAUP’s traditional leadership and its decisions over the past year.
Election results released late Wednesday showed that all seven members of a slate calling itself “AAUP Organizing for Change” easily won races for the association’s top posts.
Most notably, in the race to be the association’s president, Rudy H. Fichtenbaum, a professor of economics at Wright State University with strong support among labor organizers, beat Irene T. Mulvey, a Fairfield University mathematics professor supported by several of the group’s past leaders, by a vote of 2,246 to 1,295. (About a tenth of the association’s members voted in the elections, a turnout that is fairly typical for the group.)
Mr. Fichtenbaum, the treasurer of the AAUP’s Collective Bargaining Congress and a prominent advocate for academic labor in Ohio, was a strong critic of the association’s ouster last year of its general secretary, Gary Rhoades, who was widely liked by union organizers in the field but often clashed with the central-office staff. Mr. Rhoades, who resigned after coming into conflict with the AAUP’s current president, Cary Nelson, and after seeing his reappointment as general secretary opposed by the association’s executive committee, was joined by a long list of leaders of the AAUP’s unionized affiliates in endorsing Mr. Fichtenbaum’s candidacy.
Charles J. Parrish, a member of the “AAUP Organizing for Change” slate who easily won an at-large seat on the association’s national council, on Thursday described his slate as “a bunch of people who basically have not been in the main current of the AAUP and all of whom objected to the firing of Gary Rhoades.” He said, “We all supported what Rhoades was trying to do in reaching out to other organizations and in reaching out to the field.”