The Crisis in the Universities (redux)

The debate on financial stewardship of my institution, the New School, has erupted again, thanks to the strike by Part Time Faculty that is taking place there now, and the intransigent reaction of the University leadership. I have once more become involved in bringing greater transparency to the university finances. At short notice and at the request of UAW Local 7902, which represents our Part Time Faculty, I wrote a brief note entitled, “What Can the University Afford?“. Yesterday, the University posted its “response“. In turn, I have posted my response to their response. Who is right? You decide. I am old fashioned enough to believe that reasoning and evidence matter. [Update: the strike was settled in mid-December, after a few weeks, with the University conceding most of the demands of the Part Time Faculty].

You can also watch here my presentation to the Part Time Faculty union local the previous week, which built in turn on work I did in 2020 on the New School as a Neoliberal University. You can listen to a podcast interview on the strike here.

The University’s approach threatens to bring about the very financial crisis that it claims to forestall, by causing a precipitous collapse in student enrollments. Because the sympathetic actions of Full Time Faculty have brought the entire institution to a halt, this may go well beyond those portions of the institution most dependent on Part Time Faculty (notably the Parsons School of Design). Let us hope it doesn’t come to that. Until now, Part Time Faculty as well as the Full Time Faculty and students supporting them, have shown unprecedented resolve and unity, despite efforts to intimidate and divide them (including, yesterday, a threat to withhold pay and benefits from workers, including Full Time Faculty such as myself, and students) who do not cross picket lines. .

For my previous post on University finances, in the midst of the pandemic, see here. In the intervening period attention was brought to my work on University finances on a number of occasions, e.g. in this presentation to Rider University faculty and in this conference of the American Association of University Professors.

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