Hans-Joerg Tiede. University Reform: The Founding of the American Association of University Professors. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015. 288 pp. $34.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-4214-1826-1.
Reviewed by Steven Diner
Published on H-Socialisms (January, 2016)
Commissioned by Gary Roth (Rutgers University - Newark)
University Professors' Association
Hans-Jorge Tiede, a professor of computer science at Illinois Wesleyan University who is now serving as president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), has written a detailed and thoroughly researched history of the founding of the AAUP. He explains in his acknowledgments that the book grew out of research he conducted for an article for the 2015 edition of the AAUP’s Policy Documents and Reports. That article, he says, “utilized only a small amount of the archival material I had located during my research” (p. xi). Since much of the material in these sources had not been used previously in historical writing about the AAUP, he decided to provide a more complete description of the organization’s founding years in this book. Thus, Tiede came to this project as an AAUP leader rather than as an historian of higher education.
Although many academicians today think of the AAUP as an organization founded to protect academic freedom, Tiede argues that its founders’ primary purpose was “to change the political status in the governance system of their universities” (p. 1). With the rise of the academic professions and research universities in the late nineteenth century, many faculty began to challenge university governance in which a corporate-type board of non-academicians appointed a president to operate the institution on its behalf. The founders of AAUP sought to create an organization that would “speak for the profession as a whole in response to efforts to organize and standardize American higher education” (p. 2). Specifically, they opposed the efforts of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching which sought to restrict governing boards from micromanaging colleges and universities and thereby give greater power to the president. Despite this goal, Tiede argues, the AAUP devoted most of its efforts in the years after its founding to developing its 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure and to addressing the numerous violations of academic freedom that occurred after American entrance into World War I. Much of his narrative describes the ideas and activities of two key AAUP founders, Johns Hopkins philosopher Arthur O. Lovejoy, who believed the university must become “a self-governing republic of scholars” and Columbia psychologist James McKeen Cattell (p. 3).
Tiede describes these developments between 1912 and 1920 in great detail. The first three chapters provide historical context by looking at the growth of higher education and its professionalization and the discussion this brought about of university governance between 1890 and 1915. He also describes the attempts of the Carnegie Foundation to shape higher education. The following eight chapters describe the founding of the AAUP and its predecessor, the Joint Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (started by three organizations of social scientists), the creation of the 1915 Declaration, various investigations of academic freedom violations, the development of local AAUP chapters, and other aspects of AAUP’s organizational history.
Some historians of education and social scientists who study contemporary higher education may find this detailed history of the first six years of the AAUP useful for research on the academic profession and its evolution. It may also interest a few individuals deeply involved with the AAUP today. However, I think most scholars and students of the history of higher education who read University Reform will wish that Tiede had not limited his book to only the first six years of the AAUP’s history. His point that the AAUP was not founded to promote academic freedom is very important, but he demonstrates this clearly in his article, which most readers will find sufficient. His book-length narrative on the years 1914 to 1920 is much longer and more detailed than most readers will find useful.
. Hans-Joerg Tiede, "'To Make Collective Action Possible': The Founding of the AAUP," Journal of Academic Freedom, 5 (2014).
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