Dear H-PAD Members,
We have until October 1 to submit this resolution from Scholars for a New Deal for Higher Education for consideration at the Business Meeting during the AHA Annual Meeting, January 4-7, 2024 in San Francisco.
AHA leaders have been discussing the crisis in higher education, but this resolution urges the association to take concrete steps to support increased government funding for higher education that protects and respects higher education workers.
We need 227 members (2% of the total membership) to sign the resolution, so as to get it on the agenda for the Business Meeting.
If you are (or will be as of October 1) a paid-up AHA member, please sign this google form. The resolution appears in the form and below.
Also, please forward this email to your colleagues and any historians you know who may be AHA members.
The escalating crisis in higher education, including most recently the drastic cuts to West Virginia University, undermines historians’ abilities to produce knowledge and contribute to teaching and research and the health and welfare of society. The historical profession is collapsing as a result of decades of reduced public funding; take-overs of governance by state legislatures and governors; the closure and merging of academic departments and elimination of majors and degrees, especially in the arts and humanities; threats to tenure; and the reliance on low-paid, contingent instructors for over three quarters of all teaching.
The shift to overwhelmingly underpaid and unsupported contingent labor has also resulted in professional organizations losing their dues paying members and seeing fewer participants in their conferences and subscribers to their publications. The diminishing numbers of faculty who receive the resources and time to engage in peer review, whether for publication or tenure, is also creating a crisis in the production and sharing of disciplinary knowledge.
For decades, public higher education has been one of the country’s most important democratic and economic institutions. The current crisis is an enormous and universally relevant social setback, one which it is our right and obligation to oppose. Now is the time for professional disciplinary organizations to take leadership roles in educating their members and the public about the crisis, and in expressing support for policies that support the survival of the profession.
Historians must insist that higher education be fully funded by the government, and that those funding policies, including those focused on reducing tuition, recognize that faculty and staff are the bedrock of higher education and that everyone employed by colleges and universities should be respected and compensated fairly. Models for ensuring fair, equitable employment, such as the federal “College for All” bill, most recently introduced in 2023, include provisions that require institutions receiving federal monies to make college affordable for students to also invest in their workers by increasing the proportion of faculty on the tenure track to 75 percent and providing greater support and opportunities for contingent faculty and staff.
Whereas there is a crisis in higher education resulting from decades of reduced public funding; take-overs of governance by state legislatures and governors; curtailment of tenure; and the reliance of low-paid, contingent instructors for over three quarters of all teaching,
Whereas this crisis is threatening to collapse the professional academic discipline of history that provides knowledge, instruction, and expertise,
We resolve to advocate for increased federal and/or state public funding of higher education that would strengthen and rebuild colleges and universities by ensuring equitable access for all students, while fostering a stable, fair, and secure workforce.
We resolve to support efforts to provide low-cost to free tuition for students coupled with labor protections that require institutions to advance toward 75 percent tenure track and fair, renewable, stable contracts with benefits for others.
Solidarity Across the Americas: The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and Anti-imperialism
Professor of History Emerita