The Responsible Professor

EAPs and the Neoliberal University


  • Shelley Zipora Reuter Concordia University


Neoliberalism, responsibilisation, higher education, employee assistance, managerialism, resilience, performance


Universities commonly engage Employee Assistance Programs to help workers with their problems. In this institutional case study of neoliberalism in action, I analyze the EAP newsletters from one Canadian institution I call “Corporate U” for their impact on full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. I show how their messaging counterproductively amplifies pressures in today’s university to be resilient and perform and be accountable. I take the EAP to be an agent of the university, and as such, their newsletters demonstrate the rise of neoliberal managerialism in academic life. Of particular concern is their individualising tendency to construct “the responsible professor” as an ideal to which all academic workers must now aspire.