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Johanna Foster Receives National Recognition from AAUP

Johanna Foster, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, Endowed Chair in Social Ethics, and President of The Faculty Union at Monmouth University (FAMCO), received the 2022 Marilyn Sternberg Award from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

According to the AAUP, the award was established in 1981 and recognizes the AAUP member “who best demonstrates concern for human rights, courage, persistence, political foresight, imagination, and collective bargaining skills.”

“This is such a meaningful award to me, and I was really so surprised and humbled,” said Foster.

“Dr. Foster’s courage, persistence, and collective bargaining skills are exemplified in her work as both as chief negotiator during our recent contract negotiations and as president of FAMCO,” explained Maryanne Rhett, Professor of History and Vice President of FAMCO. “She has led FAMCO toward a culture of active member-led unionism and was instrumental in many recent Union successes.”

“Dr. Foster is a caring professor who upholds academic standards in and out of the classroom,” added Robert Scott, Professor of Economics, Finance, and Real Estate. “She works hard to promote the well-being of her colleagues as well as Monmouth University. I have known Dr. Foster for 17 years and she’s always behaved professionally and approached issues, whether research or in other capacities, with intelligence and a strong sense of ethics.”

“Dr. Foster, in my opinion, loves Monmouth University and will always do what’s best in the interest of her students and colleagues,” he continued. “I do not believe Dr. Foster has a selfish bone in her body.”

Foster attributes the AAUP’s interest in Monmouth University to the recent focus on social justice organizing, which she referred to as a “model of bargaining for the common good.”

“It’s a philosophy and practice of unionism that focuses not only on the traditional worker issues of salaries and benefits, which are so key, but also on issues of equity and democracy that also impact employees, their families, and our communities more broadly,” she explained. FAMCO has recently taken on issues of equity and diversity in faculty hiring and promotion so that students can benefit from having a racially and ethnically diverse faculty. Gender salary equity and supporting faculty and students in feminized academic disciplines have been other areas of focus for the faculty union.

“As we know that professors’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, we have worked closely with our MU Faculty Council to protect the academic mission, keeping a close eye on larger trends that can hurt students, such as the imposition of for-profit companies in the non-profit university space,” said Foster.

“I imagine the AAUP has also appreciated that the Monmouth faculty chapter works closely with staff unions on issues like protecting campus health and safety for all, and also on making sure all of our employees have quality and affordable healthcare,” she continued. “The faculty union and the Monmouth administration were able to agree on a strong contract this year that recognized the value of faculty’s work, and I know the AAUP was particularly pleased by that outcome.”

Foster’s work spans beyond the Monmouth University community. One of her primary research focuses is the mass incarceration crisis in the US and the interconnected problems of race, class and gender inequality. Foster has worked with female students at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women as a professor in an in-prison college setting for almost twenty years. She was recently appointed to the Edna Mahan’s Board of Trustees by Governor Phil Murphy.

“Dr. Foster’s concern for human rights is evident in her work as a scholar of racial, class, and gender inequality and in her position as the Helen Bennett McMurray Endowed Chair in Social Ethics in the Department of Political Science and Sociology,” added Rhett. “To this end, moreover, she helped to develop the precursor to the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons initiative, which helps incarcerated individuals pursue a college degree and is currently the coordinator of the Monmouth University Academic Exchange program. In this program, college students living in New Jersey state prisons study together in combined classes inside the facilities.”

“Even though my name is on it, I see it as a statement of the collective good work that MU faculty and staff have been doing together during the pandemic to serve our students in such tough times. I’m thrilled to know that shared work has put Monmouth on AAUP’s map of engaged chapters,” concluded Foster.