Plenary Speakers


The Post-pandemic college

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM  |  Thursday, March 18

Liz McMillen, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The status of higher education has been challenged on many fronts in the past two years.  In this plenary, Liz McMillen will summarize recent and current research conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education focusing on several of these intertwined issues.  Drawing from the Post-Pandemic College report, which she edited, she will present key points on current financial structures and struggles in higher education, on teaching and learning in pandemic age (and after) including a focus on community colleges, and a brief look to the future.  In addition, Ms. McMillen will incorporate other recent research on the status of faculty throughout the pandemic, with emphasis on faculty morale in the face of increasing precarity. 

Speaker Bio

As executive editor of Chronicle Intelligence, Liz McMillen brings more than 30 years of experience covering higher education. She is a sought-after speaker who frequently addresses college leaders in the United States and overseas about big-picture trends in higher education.

From 2011 to 2018, she served as the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education, supervising a newsroom of 65 reporters, editors, data journalists, and designers who produce a daily news report, weekly print edition, special supplements, and in-depth reports. Under her leadership, the Chronicle newsroom received awards from the Online News Association, the Society for News Design, and the Education Writers Association.

In her career at The Chronicle she has served as a reporter covering faculty issues, research, and business; a section editor; and editor of The Chronicle Review. In 2013 she was selected to deliver the Graham Hovey Lecture at the University of Michigan. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was a recipient of the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan.



"Inextricably linked": Academic Freedom, Tenure and Shared Governance Before, During and After COVID-19 

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM  |  Friday, March 19

Hans-Joerg Tiede, American Association of University Professors;
       Michael DeCesare, Merrimack College

Speaker Bio

Hans-Joerg Tiede (PhD, Indiana University) is Director of Research at the American Association of University Professors. He conducts survey research on academic freedom, tenure, and governance. He is the editor of Policy Documents and Reports (the AAUP “Redbook”) and author of University Reform: The Founding of the American Association of University Professors (both Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).

Michael DeCesare (PhD, UMass-Amherst) is professor of sociology at Merrimack College and chair of the AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance. He co-chairs, with Michael Bérubé, the AAUP’s special committee charged with an omnibus investigation into alleged violations of principles of academic governance at eight institutions. His most recent book is Death on Demand: Jack Kevorkian and the Right-to-Die Movement.

Session Overview

The first part of our address will focus on the meaning of tenure and its historical context. As was noted in a recent AAUP policy statement, “Tenure was not designed as a merit badge for research-intensive faculty.” The AAUP’s conception of tenure, formulated in 1940, was a response to the academic labor market of the Great Depression and an accompanying crisis of contingency that, in many ways, mirrors the crisis we face today. That conception has morphed over the course of the last 80 years into a system that differs radically from that envisioned at its outset. The purpose of the first part of our address is to argue that a return to the original purpose of tenure is essential to its future. The second part of our address will focus on the AAUP’s omnibus investigation of the crisis in academic governance that occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. Two of the eight institutions being investigated—Illinois Wesleyan University and Marian University—are in states represented by the MSS. We will review the investigating committee’s major findings and conclusions as well as the implications for the future of shared governance, tenure, and academic freedom.


The Color Line: Challenges for Civil Society OF KEYNOTE PRESENTATION  

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM  |  Saturday, March 20

Eliljah Anderson, Yale University

Speaker Bio

Elijah Anderson is the Sterling Professor of Sociology and of African American Studies at Yale University. He is one of the leading urban ethnographers in the United States. His publications include Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City (1999), winner of the Komarovsky Award from the Eastern Sociological Society; Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community (1990), winner of the American Sociological Association’s Robert E. Park Award for the best published book in the area of Urban Sociology; and the classic sociological work, A Place on the Corner (1978; 2nd ed., 2003). Anderson’s most recent ethnographic work, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life, was published by W. W. Norton in 2011. Professor Anderson is the recipient of two prestigious awards from the American Sociological Association, the 2013 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award and the 2018 W.E.B. DuBois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award, as well as the 2017 Merit Award from the Eastern Sociological Society.

Dr. Anderson has served on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and is formerly a vice-president of the American Sociological Association. He has served in an editorial capacity for a wide range of professional journals and special publications, including Qualitative Sociology, Ethnography, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, City & Community, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He has also served as a consultant to a variety of government agencies, including the White House, the United States Congress, the National Academy of Science and the National Science Foundation. Additionally, he was a member of the National Research Council’s Panel on the Understanding and Control of Violent Behavior.

The Peter Hall Lecture is a session of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI).


The Midwest Sociology Challenge: Lead on Climate  

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM  |  Friday, March 19

Julie Pelton, MSS President, University of Nebraska Omaha

Speaker Bio

Julie A. Pelton (PhD, Pennsylvania State University) is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her research focuses on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She has been a member of the MSS Board of Directors or served in leadership capacity for the organization since 2010.

Session Overview

In this address, I will discuss the need to integrate environmental sociology and climate change into our courses and curriculum in order to ensure that we meet the most challenging threat facing our communities – global climate change. Because teaching about climate and environmental issues is likely to be uncharted territory for most sociology teachers, I share ideas for how each of us might easily develop content or activities across a variety of course topics. I will challenge MSS members to become ecoliterate and to explore aspects of Critical Ecopedagogy so that we can teach for ecojustice. Sociology can and should play a central role in shaping discourse and action on climate change, but first we need to change how we acknowledge, understand, and interpret our connections to other animals and ecosystems.