Gary Rhoades, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, has told students and faculty members in the University of Arizona's Center for the Study of Higher Education that he plans to leave his AAUP post and return to his previous job as a professor at Arizona, according to a source on the faculty of the university's College of Education.
In an e-mail sent to the students and faculty members on Sunday, Mr. Rhoades said he planned to return as a professor of higher education, effective January 1, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been formally announced.
Mr. Rhoades, who took a three-year leave from the university to assume the AAUP's top executive post in January 2009, faces the loss of his tenure if he does not return to the University of Arizona by that time.
Although Mr. Rhoades will be coming back to the university, he will not be returning to his previous position as director of its Center for the Study of Higher Education, the source said.
Mr. Rhoades has had a rocky tenure at the AAUP and his future there had been uncertain. The association's executive committee voted in March to recommend that the AAUP not renew his three-year contract when it expires at the end of the calendar year.
The organization's national council had been scheduled to vote on the matter at its annual meeting in June, but the AAUP's leadership came under pressure to bring resolution to the matter earlier as a result of the turmoil that ensued after The Chronicle broke news last month of the executive committee's decision and the internal strife that had led up to it.
Mr. Rhoades declined Tuesday to discuss his future plans or his job status.
Cary Nelson, president of the AAUP, could not be reached Tuesday for comment, and the organization has not issued any statement regarding Mr. Rhoades's future with the organization.
Even Mr. Rhoades's detractors in the AAUP gave him credit as a highly effective field organizer, and the news of his departure had been met with dismay by some leaders of the organization's state and campus affiliates. But members of the AAUP's Washington staff, as well as sources with knowledge of its staff operations, told The Chronicle last month that Mr. Rhoades had scored poor marks from much of the staff on a recent survey asking them to rate his performance, the results of which were passed on to the executive committee. Many characterized him as disorganized, inattentive to detail, and otherwise lacking in management skills, and complained that he was out of the office too much.
The short tenure of Mr. Rhoades—on top of the hastened departure of his predecessor, Roger W. Bowen, under similar circumstances—has prompted leaders of the organization to begin rethinking the general secretary's job description. In an interview last month, Mr. Nelson, the group's president, said the organization needs to consider whether the job "needs to be reconfigured" because it may be too demanding and difficult, requiring those who hold the post to keep the national office running smoothly while also spending considerable amounts of time on the road.