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Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education


Reviews & Interviews


Fall 2006
A Manual for Action

Thought & Action: the NEA Higher Education Journal

While I was writing this review, a union friend told me, “The value of Joe Berry’s Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education is that it is about organizing.” This struck me initially as odd, and then as right on: he was implicitly referring to the growing volume of research about contingent faculty working conditions, but the woeful lack of writing on contingent faculty organizing.

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Spring 2006
How Mario Savio & Joe Berry helped CFA learn to organize

California Faculty (CFA)

In 1964, Mario Savio changed history, and became part of history, with his speech to the demonstrators outside Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley. In his impassioned and much quoted words, he made clear how high the stakes are when a university becomes a managed machine rather than a place where students and faculty share knowledge and freely speak the truth. He also made clear that only action—collective action—would make a difference against the machine, concluding with these words: “Now, no, more talking. We’re going to march in singing ‘We Shall Overcome.’

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March 2006
Organizing Colleges' Teaching Temps

Industrial Worker

Joe Berry’s Reclaiming the Ivory Tower is an exceptionally well-written guide to academic labor’s contingent workforce. For those new or unfamiliar with the conditions of contingent academic labor, this book does more than name and give voice to an exploited workforce, it is also a thoughtful catalog of issues facing experienced education organizers – a reminder of the peculiar professional, philosophical, cultural, and pragmatic barriers to labor organizing within the Ivory Towers.

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November 2005
William Vaughn on Reclaiming the Ivory Tower
Workplace: A Journal of Academic Labor

The subtitle to Joe Berry’s important new book promises that by organizing we can change higher education, and while I share that hope, I doubt if Berry would agree that the portion of his study which best communicates some shape of that change is the “Acknowledgments.” Maybe I’m the only one who ever reads these pages of an academic tome, but I’ve seen enough instances of the genre to recognize the formula: dissertation directors thanked; colleagues recognized; conference hosts toasted; journals credited; partners beatified.

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January 2006
You May Say that I'm a Dreamer...
Perspective (CFT)

A yellowing Doonesbury cartoon adorns the office wall of many a contingent faculty member in higher education—that is, the contingent faculty member who actually has an office. The comic strip depicts a contemporary academic version of the infamous “shape-up,” the arrangement whereby hungry longshoremen in the pre-collective bargaining days of the early 1930s would arrive early in the morning at the docks, hoping to latch on to a day’s work through begging or bribing the foreman...

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January 2006
Joe Berry Writes a Guide for a Contingent World, A Review by John K. Wilson
Illinois Academe

Of all the dramatic changes in higher education in the past three decades, perhaps none is as important as the growing dependence on contingent faculty. In the next few years, the number of contingent faculty in higher education will exceed all of the tenured and tenure-track faculty. So it is a fitting time for Chicagoan Joe Berry’s new book, Reclaiming the Ivory Tower...

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December 9, 2005
Agent Provocateur, A Review by Martin M. Goldstein
Santa Monica College

My father, a New York lawyer and political liberal of long standing, used to refer to certain airy intellectuals as people who were "very smart, but had no brains." This concept kept coming back to me as I read Joe Berry's analysis of the current state of higher education in America. His discussion centers on a workforce transformed in one generation from one of almost exclusively full-time tenure track positions -- the traditional "Professor" -- to one where such positions are now the minority.

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November 30, 2005
New Book Offers Guide to Organizing Adjuncts
Interview with Joe Berry, Inside Higher Ed

Part-time faculty members continue to be frustrated by their salaries, working conditions and general lack of job security. At the same time, some adjuncts have recently won victories on a variety of issues — largely as a result of either unions or other organizations working on adjuncts’ behalf.

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November 07, 2005
Relying on contract instructors threatens higher education, author says
Maria Kubacki, The Ottawa Citizen

Contract instructors are the new majority faculty at U.S. post-secondary institutions, and that's a threat to higher education, says the author of a new book.

"The casualization of the faculty and staff is really the leading edge of the corporatization of higher education as a whole," said Joe Berry, whose book is called Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education. Public and private not-for-profit universities are increasingly mimicking the new for-profit universities, such as the University of Phoenix, and becoming more profit- than service-oriented, he said.

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