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C21U Blog

Tue, 06/28/2011 - 08:24

As anticipated, Gary Rhodes departed his position as General Secretary of the American Association of University Presidents earlier this month. While his tenure was not uncontroversial , Rhodes' was responsible for a significant amount of positive change during his tenure: the AAUP had begun to receive positive audits (something that had not always been the case), and he has been praised by critics and advocates alike as a highly effective field organizer. It has been reported, however, that staff in the AAUP's Washington office sent the governing board periodic performance evaluations criticizing the amount of time Rhodes spent away from the office. This is not the first time that an AAUP General Secretary has left amid this kind of conflict. In 2007 Rhodes's predecessor, Roger Bowen, departed after what was reported to be similar conflicts with the board. 

However many, including Cary Nelsen think that this indicates a systemic problem within the organization. The AAUP constitution does not clearly define the responsibilities of their elected president and appointed General Secretary; moreover, Nelsen admitted during Bowen's departure three years ago that the responsibilities managing an organization and working in the field expected of the General Secretary position were too much for a single person to handle- a problem he admits was not adequately addressed

Whether or not the General Secretary’s departure provides sufficient impetus for the AAUP to change cannot yet be determined; however, the AAUP has soldiered on with its agenda and Mr. Rhodes will return to his position as the director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona where he has taken a leave of absence for the past three years.



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