Chapter

Bringing the F.U.D to Thin the Ranks

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Abstract

In this chapter, we focus on academic labor cost and control strategies that U.S. college and university administrators took during COVID-19 that were presented as pandemic austerity measures, but had precipitating factors and deeper roots in “workforce reduction plans.” We argue that such austerity measures have been displaced and have exacerbated the crisis of administrative bloat. We argue that the familiar management tactic of manufacturing fear, uncertainty, and distrust (F.U.D.) to destabilize and undercut unions persists and has been repurposed during the COVID-19 crisis on college campuses across the United States. We particularly focus on the ways in which higher education executives deployed narratives of fiscal emergency to justify labor and program reductions, despite clear budget justifications, and in many cases, while otherwise increasing their wealth.KeywordsAcademic laborCost control strategiesHigher education administratorsWorkforce reduction in higher educationHigher education unions

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