Home | IL Academe | About IL AAUP | Conference Corner | Calendar | Services | Committees | Contact Us | Grants | Reports | Links


Jordan Kurland, AAUP Stalwart, Dies at 87

By Hank Reichman

During his 50+ years on the AAUP staff Jordan E. Kurland, who died on January 23 at the age of 87, must have helped thousands of faculty members resist challenges to their academic freedom. Yet because he never sought the spotlight for himself, Jordan and his remarkable work remained largely unknown to most college and university teachers, including probably the majority of AAUP members. But Jordan was a titan, a near-legendary figure among those privileged to have worked with him. About 15 years ago he began working 80% time, but his mind and effort were always 100% and more dedicated to the AAUP, the scholarly profession, and the cause of academic freedom. In an email to Association leaders, AAUP Executive Director Julie Schmid called attention to "Jordan's incredible intelligence, his acumen as a strategic thinker, and his commitment to his staff colleagues." Greg Scholtz, Director of the AAUP Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance, who worked closely with Jordan in his last years said, "It's a cliche, but he really was one of a kind. He had a genius for the work, and the work was his life." Indeed, Jordan's final day at work was January 8, less than three weeks before his passing, and to the end he was stubbornly promising a return to his desk.

Jordan joined the AAUP staff in 1965, having taken a leave of absence from his appointment at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, where he was active in the AAUP chapter. A native of Boston, Jordan attended Dartmouth College and earned BA and MA degrees in history at Boston University before commencing advanced study at the Russian Institute at Columbia University. He earned a Fulbright fellowship to conduct research in the Netherlands for his dissertation on Dutch-Russian relations in the 17th century; a second fellowship enabled a year of study in the Soviet Union. He remained interested in Russian affairs until his death. Jordan leaves behind his devoted wife of almost 69 years, Anita Siegel Kurland, four children, and eight grandchildren.

With Jordan's passing we will all be inclined to "end of an era" thoughts. But I'm convinced that Jordan wouldn't be happy about that. He would be urging us to redouble our efforts and to recommit ourselves to the cause to which he dedicated most of his life.

In June, as AAUP celebrated its centennial year, the annual meeting paused as well to honor Jordan with a resolution commemorating his 50 years of service as a staff member. That resolution reads: