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Foster and Vujnovic: “Shared Governance Unionism and the Fight against Austerity in the Age of COVID-19”

Johanna Foster, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and Helen McMurray Bennett Endowed Chair in Social Ethics, and Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., professor of journalism in the Department of Communication, are co-authors of a new article, “Shared Governance Unionism and the Fight against Austerity in the Age of COVID-19,” in the fall 2021 issue of Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Foster and Vujnovic examine the impact of COVID-19 on faculty, students, and staff in higher education as it “continues to wreak devastation for millions in what has now been two years of unrelenting crisis,” especially during a period with “a reenergized academic labor movement across the United States.”

Within the context of a recent national survey on shared governance by the AAUP, Foster and Vujnovic argue that “the overall involvement of faculty in institutional decision-making has declined in recent decades, even if, in some instances, faculty participation in decisions related to personnel and curricula has increased.”

Foster and Vujnovic state that, “while the survey offers a mixed picture of the state of academic governance, other measures of faculty experience tell us that faculty today generally have only an indirect influence over budgetary decisions, primarily through budget requests made to chairs and deans.”

Reflecting on their broader research and direct involvement with shared governance unionism at Monmouth, Foster and Vujnovic write, “Amid the larger national landscape of campus activism, these experiences have given us a different way of looking at the challenges of organizing during the pandemic. During the pandemic, faculty across the country have been radicalized in a way that we have never seen before in our academic careers.”

Foster and Vujnovic are the authors of the forthcoming book, “Higher Education and Disaster Capitalism in the Age of COVID-19.” Foster is the president of the faculty association of Monmouth University, a collective bargaining chapter of the AAUP. Vujnovic is the former two-term chair of the faculty council and served on the council’s executive board for nearly a decade.