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Steve Street PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maria Maisto   

Steve M. Street 1950-2012


We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Steve Street, who died on August 17 of cancer in Buffalo, NY.  Steve was an NFM Board member.  He was also a wonderful writer, fearless advocate, and cherished friend.  His friend and fellow activist Don Eron has called him the movement's "poet laureate,"  a beautiful and apt tribute.

NFM has renamed our Unemployment Compensation Initiative in Steve's name because it was a project he cared deeply about and to which he gave many hours of volunteer service.
Here is the message that Maria Maisto and Anne Wiegard sent to the adj-l listserv, where Steve was a frequent participant:

August 17, 2012

Dear Friends,

I am deeply sorry to have to let you know that our dear friend and colleague, Steve Street, died this morning at a hospice facility in Buffalo, NY.

Many of you may have known that Steve was battling a second round of cancer, but he was persistently optimistic and had even planned to attend COCAL and to continue teaching this fall.  I think none of us knew how truly serious it was, and last week he took a sudden turn for the worse and was admitted to hospice where he died in the company of his brother.  Some of his friends and colleagues were able to send him messages of love and support, including Ross Borden who made a six-hour round trip to visit him last night.  It is our hope that he had some comfort in the knowledge that he was so respected and cherished by all of us.  As you know, he was active in COCAL, on this list, in UUP (United University Professions), and NFM.

Like all of us, I am devastated.  Steve was a hero to me, and a personal mentor who gave me confidence when I got started in this work.  I had the privilege of collaborating with him on an essay on contingency published in Liberal Education and on other pieces of writing as well, and always thought that not only was he a beautiful writer and sharp, perceptive thinker, but that he was extraordinarily generous and encouraging as a responder and collaborator.  I can't help thinking of the thousands upon thousands of students who benefited from his teaching and mentorship.

Steve was a clear and forceful thinker and writer, someone who was never afraid to speak truth to power.  (He was also a talented and award-winning fiction writer.)  In part because of his persistent, fearless insistence that adjuncts deserve a living wage and health benefits, his union, UUP, was finally able to negotiate health insurance for adjuncts teaching at least two courses. That is what allowed him to survive his first bout of cancer.  He endured some colleagues' irritation with him for constantly advocating for adjuncts but recently acknowledged to me how grateful he was that attitudes have changed enough for FT and PT faculty to really begin to work together to do the right thing for adjuncts.


My friend Anne Wiegard, who worked closely with Steve in both UUP and NFM, had this to say:

Steve's perseverance as an activist inspired his UUP colleagues for many years, both at the local and statewide levels.  His unerring moral compass did not mean he was unwilling to compromise in order to achieve practical gains, but it did mean that his humane principles and deep commitment to academic freedom never faltered.  We will sorely miss Steve's brilliant ability to frame concepts and to capture and analyze the subtle nuances of the complexities of contingent employment issues.  But we will miss even more his warm friendship, great kindness, and razor sharp wit.

We intend to honor Steve's memory in many ways, but most especially in re-dedicating ourselves to the struggle to secure the dignity of proper working conditions for all contingent faculty in higher education.   I hope you will all help us to grieve and to celebrate Steve by sharing your thoughts and memories on this list, the venue which made it possible for so many of us to meet him, delight in his writing and be inspired by his courage.

All best,

Maria and Anne

Articles about Steve in
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Inside Higher Ed

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 23:54

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