May 1996 Accountability No Stranger to Academics Accountability is the buzzword of the 1990s and, although a perfectly sensible concept, it has lost some of its credibility through overuse and abuse. In university and college circles governments have commonly adopted it as an excuse for irresponsible budget cuts and as a cover for failed job strategies. Civil servants have embraced it as rationale for creating new top-heavy centralized bureaucracies to interfere in university autonomy. For some university and college administrators it provides a perverse justification for attempts to exclude faculty, staff and students from transparent and accountable, collegial governance. Administrations Are Accountable for Academic Freedom Much has been written and said in recent years by politicians, university administrators and academics about the accountability of academics in publicly-funded institutions. But there has been much less said about the financial, administrative and academic accountability of university administrations in publicly-funded institutions. The Accountable Academic Library University libraries and the services they offer are an intrinsic part of the missions of universities. They house and provide access to the resources which are integral to the support of teaching and research. They are the places in which students learn of the tools necessary to build a foundation in their discipline and in which the fruits of the labours of research are made available. Academic librarians are the teachers and researchers in university libraries. It is they who teach the students how to use the tools necessary for learning. It is also they who explore and experiment with new means of making the accumulated knowledge of mankind accessible. Accountability is Heart and Soul of Collective Agreements CAUT first became involved in collective bargaining in the late 1960s, and today more than half of the 28,000 members are covered by collective agreements negotiated under labour law. Has then the unionization of professors and librarians made academic staff less accountable for their performance? The Down Side of Downsizing In the last few months there has been vigorous debate in the Canadian and American press about the merits and effects of corporate downsizing. Just as doubts begin to creep in among businessmen, some academic administrators have begun to burn with a zeal to emulate the most brutal of the cutters. Equity - More Questions than Answers A critical measure of the excellence of Canadian universities is how well they facilitate the full development of the talents of all Canadians. Canada is a pluralistic society made up of many diverse communities with differing, legitimate perspectives and concerns.