to the Board of Governors
AAUP Truman Chapter President
This is the second time that I have attended and presented
at a Board of Governors Meeting. In 1989, eleven years ago, I
was invited to present a report on my discipline, Sociology/Anthropology.
Bob Dagger was the Interim President. I do not remember the name
of the Board President, but I do remember that he was the former
major of St. Louis. I remember how gracious he and his wife were.
This year I am the President of the Truman Chapter of the
American Association of University Professors. Just as a lawyer
may join the American Bar Association in order to strengthen
his or her professional relation to the legal profession, a university
professor may join AAUP for the same type of reason. Just as
a physician may join the American Medical Association in order
to gain assess to the supportive resources that this organization
offers the medical profession, a university professor may join
AAUP for the same type of reason. Let me now pass out copies
of our fall newsletter, “Footnotes,” on changes in
technology and education, and a flyer on AAUP membership benefits
so that you can see the type of support that AAUP provides university
professors. The professor benefits as a professor from being
a member of AAUP, and Truman benefits from its professors being
members of this national organization.
I was hired by President Charles McClain in 1988. During my
first six years at Truman, I saw four different presidents. It
is nice now to have continuity. I have also seen a lot of good
faculty leave. Many of these faculty represented the best faculty
that a university could have. Many were good friends. I identified
with them. It was easy to share myself with them. They were outstanding
colleagues. I sought to be like them and model my work after
their fine example. Last year, I was surprised by how many outstanding
faculty continue to leave Truman. How long can this continue?
To my mind, many of the people who left were the work horses
in the university. They may not have been the best team players
on campus. They cherished their autonomy and valued their academic
freedom. They may not have been part of the good-old-boy network.
They came from other places and had different cultural experiences.
They, however, were workhorses; they were the people who helped
maintain and build the excellent reputation of the University.
When you look at our AAUP Faculty Attrition survey, I would
ask you not to overlook the positives. People who participated
in the survey said many good things about Truman. They remember
the excellent students, the congenial colleagues, the convenience,
the ease and safety of a small campus and town, the travel support
for conferences, the summer research grants, and the academic
freedom in the classroom. When you read our survey, I would also
ask you to look at the human side. It is not in the interest
of our students if faculty become like migrant workers. Neither
is it in the interest of the University or the Kirksville community.
Many of the people who left were community oriented. They and
their spouses made contributions. It hurts the Kirksville community
when these people leave. Truman faculty must not be perceived
like migrant workers who come tend the field of education, harvest
the fine crops and then leave when the season is over and there
is no more work for them.
As Professor Thomas Angelo said last night at our Baldwin
Lecture, there are five dimensions of higher learning. Let me
take advantage of having attended this presentation. We can learn
the facts about faculty attrition. We can learn the what and
the how. We can also learn the when and the where. As members
of a liberal arts community, however, we also try to learn the
why. But even more important than learning the why we try to
learn “how to learn.” In this context, we need to try
to learn how to learn from faculty attrition. What can we learn
about ourselves from the faculty attrition that Truman is experiencing?
We need to engage in what Professor Angelo called metacognitive
As a sociologist, I can tell you that there will always be
faculty attrition. I can also tell you that if there were no
absolutely faculty attrition that would be unhealthy. Here, though,
is our concern. High faculty attrition can directly hurt the
development of our liberal arts tradition. A liberal arts education
is built upon two traditions, the tradition of humanism and the
tradition of science. In order for a liberal arts community to
thrive, both traditions need to be present and vibrant. The tradition
of humanism is centered around the principle of care. For the
tradition of humanism care is seen as not only a compelling but
also a necessary foundation of human relations. Humanism cannot
exist and, by implication, neither can a liberal arts community,
without a recognition of and a respect for the principle of care.
A persistent degree of faculty attrition threatens a liberal
arts community because it undermines the possibility of caring.
As the philosopher Milton Mayerhoff writes, “Caring assumes
continuity, and is impossible if the other is continually being
Perhaps the greatest resource that Truman State University
has is the good will of its faculty toward its students. This
study shows that many of its former faculty had considerable
good will toward the students here. It is imperative to protect
this “social capital.” It is difficult to replace.
If Truman loses it, it will become every difficult for the University
to grow and sustain its excellent reputation.
What can you, the Board of Governors, do? I think that what
you can do is fairly easy and straightforward. Keep in mind that
our students are perceptive and keen. Our students are good at
reading between the lines. Our students see how the Board of
Governors view by how the Board treats faculty. If students see
that you respect and support the faculty at Truman, they, too,
will respect and support the faculty, and this respect will enhance
the quality of education at Truman. If students see that you
do not respect or value the faculty, some of them will adapt
this attitude. A negative attitude toward faculty in the classroom
is toxic. While you are not professors, you nevertheless play
an important education role. You are not in the classroom, but
in a way the entire Truman community is your classroom and not
only students but also faculty watch and take notes from the
lessons that you teach. If the lesson you teach is that faculty
are important and quality professors are critical to the institution,
students and professors will learn from this lesson. If the lesson
that you teach is that faculty can be taken for granted, students
will become disenchanted and faculty will become demoralized.
One reason why our students are as great as they are is because
no matter what you think of the faculty at Truman, they will
always appreciate the hard work and quality education that many
of the faculty provide students. Please don’t let students be
the only reason why faculty stay at Truman because, while this
is a very good reason to stay at Truman, in the long run, it
will not hold and retain the faculty that you want and need to