Cary Nelson (1946), professor of English and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was president of the American Association of University Professors between 2006 and 2012.
He received his Ph.D in English from the University of Rochester 1970 and is a 1967 graduate of Antioch College. His scholarship of the 1970s and 80s worked to expand the canon of modern American poetry, and since the 1990s he has increasingly focused on issues in higher education. In the words of Alan Wald, "With the appearance of Manifesto of a Tenured Radical in 1997, Cary became an example of the committed scholar who conceived of the advance of his own career in the context of the amelioration of the rank-and-file of the academic community; more specifically, graduate students, part-time employees, and campus workers."
Nelson was elected to a two-year term as president of the AAUP in April 2006 and was re-elected until 2012. For the previous six years, he had been the second vice president of the AAUP. In April 2006 he was arrested, along with over 50 others (including Jane Buck, the outgoing president of the AAUP), as part of a unionization effort by New York University's graduate teaching assistants.
He has published or edited twenty five books, including Manifesto of a Tenured Radical and Revolutionary Memory: Recovering the Poetry of the American Left. His academic focus is on modern American poetry.
- No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom. New York University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8147-5859-5