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Dimensions in Academic Freedom noted scholars and administrators discuss a central issue in education in a series of four programs. The University of Illinois Radio Service and the College of Law of the University of Illinois present a study of one of the challenges of the modern university. In this third program, Sanford H. Kedish, Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, and Chairman of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee of the American Association of University Professors, will speak on the strike and the professoriate. And now, Mr. Kedish. The subject I want to talk about is the striking professor, rather than the professoriate and the strike. And I really put it to you that the strike and the forms of unionization based upon its use are rapidly developing into a major challenge to our traditional economic ways. I'll spare you a long catalog of professorial strikes of various kinds in the last several
years because the time is short and I must move on, but let me remind you, for example, of a couple. You remember in December of 65 at St. John's University when some twenty-two faculty members were summarily, may I say, perched by the university? That followed a long period of simmering strife involving an important part, the efforts of the American Federation of Teachers to unionize. I'll refer to the American Federation of Teachers, the AFT throughout this talk. The following month over fifty faculty members responded with a strike. The first major strike in higher education in the United States. The school continued to operate and the release teachers have not been reappointed to date, but the incident called dramatic attention to the issue of the professorial strike. The AAUP, which itself formally condemned St. John's in vigorous terms and placed its
name on its list of censored institutions, nevertheless announced through its executive committee that the strike was not an appropriate mechanism for resolving academic controversies or violations of academic principles or standards. That statement in turn led to further soul searching on the part of the AAUP concerning the strike which is still going on and indeed which is going on before you this morning. And then in the spring of 67, a popular assistant professor of moral theology at Catholic University was given the boat because of his legend, or at least it was widely thought to be because of his theological liberalism. This led to a massive and immediate boycott of classes by the majority of students on the campus which was promptly joined in by the members of the faculty. This was a successful strike. The professor's contract was subsequently renewed.
The new acting director who replaced the director who was relieved of his responsibilities. The new acting director said that if I was a member of the faculty at the time I would have joined the boys. And active discussions commenced looking toward enlargement of the role of the faculty in governing the university. Then there was the various Berkeley incidents involving teaching assistants who declined to meet classes in protests against the university's disciplinary actions of various kinds. And then there are the recent incidents at the California State Colleges culminating in an election, more an opinion poll in a legal election, in which at, oh, I think some five campuses, a majority of those who voted, voted in favor of an exclusive bargaining representative which would be prepared to apply the technique of a strike. And then at various junior colleges in the, in the Middle West, Chicago, Michigan, collective
bargaining strikes have been called some successful, some unsuccessful. Now, all of that is not designed to convince you that academic strikes are breaking out all over or that we think of nothing else in academia. But I think that these strikes which I just mentioned to you, a few of them, are shades of things to come. Now, an interesting question which I would pursue if your dean hadn't severely looked upon my request for an extension of time to talk, an interesting question would be why, you know, why after all these years, are we suddenly faced with these issues created by the strike? I won't go into them. I think, I think in part it's a, at the result of an increasing demand for, increasing economic returns by those in higher education brought on partly by the, the, the spectacle of other professional people making gains, which are relatively far
greater than the gains made by those in higher education. Partly, the secondly, it's the result of, of the expansion of higher education to incorporate places like junior and community colleges, state colleges, normal schools, and so on, which, which, in which places, the traditions of academic restraint and the traditions of, of shared authority and autonomy and, and so on are far less deeply rooted than they are at our traditional universities. And finally, I think a factor not to be discounted is the growing claim for the legitimacy of self assertion by those convinced that their just claims have been denied. And of course, I have reference to the Negro Civil Rights Movement, the, the acts of civil disobedience in behalf of, in behalf of, of equality. I have in mind, indeed, the occasional use of force and disorder in our cities. And then
we have seen, as well, the self assertion in the varieties of mass protest against the war in Vietnam and card-burnings, draft resistance in marches and teachings. What I'm trying to suggest, I suppose, is that we professors learn from our students. And, and, and endure, indeed, we both learn from the general community in which we live. Now let me turn to the issue of the academic or the professorial strike. I'm not going to deal, I'm not going to deal with a lot of issues that I could deal with. I'm not going to deal with the problem of the unionization of professors as such, except insofar as really one has to to talk about strike. Nor am I going to talk about what the law should allow or should disallow. I want to assume that it, we all agree that it would be unjust, a futile and utterly nonsensical on the basis of past history and at any kind of fair
praise of the situation, for laws to prohibit professors from striking. But I want to put that aside. I don't want to argue it. I want to argue a rather more basic question of what professors should do and should not do, rather than the question of what the law should or should not permit them to do. Now, to ask questions of what professors should then shouldn't do, invite consideration of our ideals and of our special conception of our work and our commitments. What has been the traditional statement of the professorial ideal? And what relation does it have to the reality we face? You know, in our dreamy moments, we professors like to think of us as a simply and loosely formed autonomous community of scholars, pursuing knowledge as our fancy dictates and sharing what we know with those who want to learn and who can. It's a fantasy, of course. There are pockets
of higher education here and there which approximate it, but by and large, it's a far different world we live in and we know it. Universities tend to be highly organized and bureaucratic with a group of managers in position of ultimate authority. The structures far more the look of a business organization than that of a learned community. There's no single embracing community of scholars, but an agglomeration of experts in specialized and diversified fields each with their own separate communities. We work for a living like anyone else and paychecks and fringe benefits told for us too. There are lots of us pursuing knowledge at these places, certainly. Sometimes the pursuit takes the form of a man his books and his inspiration, but very often it's quite different. We work on reports or studies commissioned by government, industry or big foundations. We assemble in teams to carry on large-scale projects with the lines laid out in advance. We push ourselves on, next outstretched for
the dangling carrots of prestige, promotion, or tenure. We teach, of course, but we teach a structured curriculum, not our fancy. We spend countless hours inspecting and appraising our students and stamping their records with marks of quality. Many of us administer teaching rather than teach, casting our wisdom for 50-minute intervals into vast and anonymous caverns of indifference, leaving to aspiring juniors the task of probing live minds. Our students, they're out there, they're all right, in force. Some want to learn, at least in the beginning, but then there are the numerous unfortunates for whom a college education is a necessary evil. A necessary evil, a pause before their adult lives begin. A painful ceremony of initiation required by the cult of mass higher education. Now all this is true
and lots more. And yet the ideal of the community of scholars persists. We refuse to give it up. You may conclude that that's one of the things wrong with us. I rather think it's been the saving knowledge. But the notion is not just a myth, it's an ideology. University life has been buffeted around and pulled out of shape by new demands and new influences, no more so than other institutions in American life, but no less so either. And what the ideal provides even as it is more or less contradicted by reality is a set of values and commitments, which enable us to understand better the force and significance of the bewildering challenges that we face. It affords a standard for determining what we can adopt to, adapt to and what we cannot. For example, the principle of freedom in the academy, we struggle to preserve as our life's blood. Bigness and mechanization, we know we have to come to terms
with. Mass higher education, we perceive in many, many ways as an ideal even superior to our own and we try to make the adjustments as best we can. Now I'm not suggested that the ideal of the community of scholars is a fully formed account of what we aspire to. It's more a suggestion than a description of an ideal. Nor do I suggest that even fleshed out in all its implications, it provides an instant guide for distinguishing between those new influences which present challenges to stay contemporary and relevant and those which present mortal threats to our integrity as professors at universities. Estimations of this kind require scrutiny, both of ourselves, our ideals and the means of their realization and the nature of the new influences in all their complexity. Now that is a tall order, particularly for as recent a development as the professorial strike, but it's what
I would like to turn to at this point and make a triad. I intend to proceed first by considering the ideals of our profession against the background of professionalism in general and second by considering the strike and its implications for those ideals. Now to speak of the ideals of the university professor with respect to his work brings us inevitably to the general concept of professionalism. I tremble at introducing the word. It invites the worst kind of logomage, especially since professionalism is so often invoked as a weapon, as a way of attracting prestige and superiority when used about one's own work and as a way of telling someone else he shouldn't do something we don't want him to do when used about his. But it's a danger that can't be avoided and it's safer to face
the danger openly than to commit it to slink around disguised and improvised synonyms. Actually, there's a fair amount of agreement among sociologists on what it connotes which is generally harmonious with its usual usage. Professionalism represents a particular set of beliefs, ideas, convictions concerning the conditions under which one's work is or should be performed. This set of ideas set us principally around three conceptions that have specialized expertise, that have autonomy and that have service. Now a condition of professionalism is that special expertise, knowledge or competence is necessary for carrying out the allotted tasks. Moreover, only those who have received this competence through prolonged education or training administered by qualified professionals are
regarded as eligible to carry on the work. There's disagreement on how much and what kind of specialized competence is needed to fulfill the conditions of professionalism, but this need to retain us at this point. Autonomy. Autonomy in exercising that competence is an important ideal of professionalism. The professional himself must have final responsibility, though with advice and consultation among colleagues, to determine how the work is to be done. What problems should be dealt with and how, what values should be driven for, what the criteria of distinction are, and this autonomy extends to the admission of others into the professional ranks, as well as to the work done. Finally, there's the ideal of service, which has been rightly put, I think, as the pivot around which the moral claim to professional status revolves. Restricting practitioners to those who meet the standards of competence and education set by incumbents, and insisting upon self-determination
concerning all phases of the work are, after all, claims which could just as plausibly be attributed to self-interest as to professional interest. As such, those claims achieve no more ethical compulsiveness than the claim of esteem fitter to a higher wage. But it's central to the character of the ideal of professionalism, that these demands flow from a moral claim, and that claim is that proper service to the public in the delicate and important area within the professional's competence requires that those claims be granted. Where a service is of vital importance to society, and where it requires a high degree of education and training, as well as the subtle intangibles of good judgment, it follows that a necessary condition for the proper rendering of the service is that the entire matter be left completely in the hands of those who possess the qualifications. No hospital administrator, for example, can
instruct a physician in the diagnosing or treating of the doctor's patient. But the ideal of service not only gives moral support to these claims, the ideal of service imposes responsibilities. What's central to the professional's conception of his work is dedication to excellence and reliability in the service he provides. A professional earns his livelihood at his work, but the service he provides to other people comes first, according to the ideology. And in any conflict between personal or commercial profit and the interests of those he serves, the latter prevails. His relation is fiduciary rather than commercial. Now turning to the university professor as professional, it will be observed that the community of scholar's image of which I spoke earlier suggests the special professional attributes of his role as he sees it. His special
competence is in the advancement of knowledge and understanding within the discipline of his training and its dissemination through writing and through instruction of the young. Along with law, the clergy and medicine, he's one of the oldest of the professions with his roots in the Middle Ages. The ideals of service which animate his work consist of the disinterested search for truth and the education of the citizen, as well as the training of the professionals of the future. Services of indisputable, central value for any civilized society. In his professional role, he is the preserver and cultivator of the uses of reason. The claim for autonomy within his community rests firmly on this service ideal. Like other professionals, the highly specialized character of his calling, disqualifies others for making the principal judgments about how he should carry on his scholarship and his instruction. Standards and performance must reside in the judgment
of the scholarly community if the judgment is to be reliably made. There is an addition, another reason for autonomy, of particular applicability to the professional profession. It is that the social value of research and education is substantially diminished to the extent that considerations other than the disinterested and objective pursuit of truth by the scholar are permitted to affect his work. For others to direct him water how to study and teach, risks not only the misjudgment of the unqualified, but the distortion of those with special interests, whether those interests be administrative convenience, prejudice, or social acceptability, interests to which the pursuit of knowledge is particularly and acutely vulnerable. In short, academic freedom, as well as special competence, support the moral claim of the professor to autonomy. But university professors are employees by definition who render their
services through the intermediary of a university which assembles them and their students and furnishes the facilities for their work. Unlike the prototypical professionals, lawyers, and doctors, they are not freelance and totally independent in their relationships with those they serve. Does this fact preclude realization of the professional ideals of autonomy and service? I don't think so. The ministry and the university teaching are two of the most venerable of the professions and in neither was independent practice ever important. Moreover, as far back as 1870 in the United States, there were twice as many salary professionals as there were self-employed ones and today professional people are employed in increasing numbers in industry, government, and elsewhere. Now that's not to say that the organizational context is not a formidable threat to professional values. Indeed, it plus the pull of the professional's personal self-interest about which I'll have more to say in a minute constitute two of the most
pervasive pressures towards depreciating professional norms. But this threat of bureaucratizing the profession may be met by modes of accommodation and adaptation acceptable to the organization and to the professional. In other organizational contexts, finding these modes is difficult and elusive. In the university where the conflict has the longest tradition, these modes have been more effectively worked out than in any other context. I don't say fully adopted. Of course, although they have in some of our greater universities, I say worked out and this has and this has happened primarily because the conflicts between the professionals and the organization have not been central and constitutional, as in the case for example of scientists employed by industry. After all, while a business exists to sell its products or services for profit,
not to advance science and technology, what does a university exist for if not to foster and facilitate the professional objectives of its professors, the advancement and dissemination of knowledge? This commonality of the service ideal has helped in infusing professionalism among the university managers, in professionalizing the bureaucracy rather than the other way around. I say helped and helped only of course, after a close involvement with the AAUP and with a number of universities, I should be among the last to find all sweetness and harmony in the relations between the faculty and university bureaucracies. Administrators usually are ex-professors, but as in other walks of life, it's the role that makes the man. Administration tends readily to be regarded by administrators as an end in itself rather than as a means of furthering the work of professors and students.
This happens particularly as administrations become larger, more complex and embracing as they have in multi-campus systems such as yours and mine. Moreover, authority is not always accompanied with the restraint that comes from a perception of one's limited competence. Indeed, power and humility are the oil and water of the social world. And the pressures of public acceptability and happy conformity are hard for administrators to resist. Finally, the administrators themselves are the servants of governing boards, usually composed of men with marginal associations with the world of higher education. The private boards are heavily influenced by alumni and donors and their ideas of what a university should be like. The public boards serve designedly as the means of public control and influence over universities, introducing constant pressure to make university activities acceptable to the values and expectations of the electorate and
its representatives not to mention the press. Still, as I've said, partly as the result of the long tradition of professors and universities and partly as the result of the basic commonality of objectives, modes of accommodation have been evolved. The model has been most elegantly set out recently in a task force report of the American Association for Higher Education. Essentially, it is built upon the concept of shared authority in which the faculty and the administration participate in influence and decision making. In some issues, the voice of the faculty is predominant by nature of its special knowledge and competence and the imperative of academic freedom. For example, in admission, curricula methods of instruction and research degree requirements, appointments, promotions, tenure, dismissal. Here, the professor speaks the last word. In areas in which the administration has a functional advantage, it has the primary
voice. For example, in providing overall leadership to the diverse constituency of the university, in coordinating the activities of the component parts of the institution and planning, initiating changes on new programs, assuring high standards in departments or divisions and in business management. Even in these matters, participation, though, is joint and the mode of resolution of differences within the university is predominantly information sharing and appeals to reason and argument. With the organized faculty voice, taking the form of an academic senate as an integral and internal element of the university structure. Now, this model with all its implications exists nowhere perfectly, but it has tended to be the mode of reproche mark between bureaucracy and professionalism in American institutions of higher education, to which faculties have traditionally aspired. And certainly, at our more distinguished
and pace-setting institution, like the University of Illinois, it is invariably the operational model, though needless to say, working with various degrees of effectiveness. All right, so much for the professor yet. Now, what about the strike? To what extent do academic strikes threaten commitment to and realization of the university professor's ideal ideals of professionalism? I think they do, and in a variety of ways, and I want to say why I think they do. But in so doing, I hope I will not be understood as making a case against all strikes in all circumstances. For the moment, my objective is simply to draw attention to the important considerations disfavoring the strike, which derive from the role of professor as professional. I shall have more to say afterwards on the circumstances which qualify
the application of these considerations, and on the considerations which point the other way. I shall have more to say later. You may not be here anymore, but I shall have more to say later.
Dimensions in academic freedom
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#3 (Reel 1)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Dimensions in academic freedom; #3 (Reel 1),” 1969-01-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
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