Southeast Regional Meeting Hugh Wilson, Vice President, and Ravi Rau, President, attended a one-day meeting on Saturday, October 28, of the Southeast Regional Meeting of State Conference leaders, held at Clayton State University in Atlanta. Organized by Robert Scott, Anne Richards, and Joe Carrado of the Georgia State Conference, guests from AAUP headquarters were Julian Madison, AAUP national chair of the committee on historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), and Brian Turner, President of AAUP’s Association of State Conferences.
Both spoke and led discussions on a variety of topics of concern to most faculty, especially in our region. The Southeast region is defined loosely, stretching from Texas to Florida and north to Virginia and Maryland, including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In opening the meeting, Robert Scott pointed to the common problems our universities face, that we may well be the canary on threats to public education. Our region also houses many HBCUs who have got short shrift as state government funds have shrunk for all.
Dr. Madison spoke about the current atmosphere with the White House promoting division rather than unity, and corporations trying to take over K-12 education and lowering the worth of a college degree. They are also funding scholarships to groom narrowly as future employees of their companies, some even wanting to give out degrees themselves. Among their aims is to destroy unions and clean air and water laws. Some Republican congressmen are looking to pass a national Right to Work law to add to one already existing in all our states and many besides.
With men such as Metzenbaum and Stokes no longer in Congress, we do not have champions for our interests and Dr. Madison has been making contacts with the Congressional Black Caucus. This may be something for others in our region also to consider, perhaps inviting some from that group to events hosted by AAUP chapters and conferences on our campuses. He said that “we have to fight back” as corporations try to squeeze the middle class and have profits flow to the top, while organizations such as ALEC become a (regressive)bill-writing industry in our legislatures that they increasingly control. He pointed to students as an asset that HBCUs and community colleges have, that we need to mobilize them and their energy, Rutgers being an example of recent success. He also pointed to the importance of the 2018 election.
Dr. Scott noted that there are few AAUP members at HBCUs. It was striking that a meeting held in Atlanta did not attract any faculty from Morehouse, Spellman, or Clark-Atlanta, all campuses in the vicinity, nor from the flagship ones of Georgia State, Georgia Tech or U of Georgia which do not seem to have active chapters. We need to recruit more AAUP members, including from graduate students, adjunct and contingent faculty, who face especially adverse conditions. To do so, we need to present what AAUP has to offer them and chapters can look to issues to promote that will be seen as helping their well-being.
Dr. Turner spoke about the impending Janus decision from The Supreme Court that is likely to go against the current practice (upheld 4-4 in a previous decision) that requires non-union members in collective bargaining groups to pay some fee since they benefit from that bargaining. See: https://www.aaupcbc.org/together
AAUP currently has some 11,500 such in its total membership of 52,000 and if these fee-payers drop out, will see a net loss of $1 million in its annual $8 million revenue.
He spoke of the importance of every chapter having a Committee A that helps individuals under attack on their academic freedom or tenure (Gerry Sherayko of the Virginia Conference also spoke up: “Committee A is absolutely invaluable”), that the Summer Institutes that AAUP runs have people who provide training sessions on such work. The summer 2018 venue is likely to be Vermont and information can be accessed on AAUP’s website: aaup.org He also spoke on the importance of recruiting more members in our advocacy chapters (all in our region).
Among other topics discussed: The importance of Newsletters both by chapters and state conferences. Some of these and those from the national office can be accessed on websites or are sent by Listserv but it may also be worth exploring wider dissemination to non-members of AAUP on our campuses. HBCU faculty are systematically underpaid and treatment of contingency faculty is shameful, with some having to teach 5-5 courses in the academic year at $1800 or 2000 per course. Our chapters should consider a target reduction of such practice in place of adding regular faculty and work towards that on their campuses. See also: Eva Swidler’s “The pernicious silencing of the adjunct faculty” (CHE, 30 October 2017)”
All campuses should pay attention to having a Faculty Handbook, what is on it, and that it is up-to-date. The AAUP Redbook is a valuable aid, copies available for $50 (30% reduction for members) through the website.
Colleges and universities are under a campaign to “defund, delegitimize, and destroy” them and we have to fight back for the values and principles long enunciated and defended by AAUP. See
One Faculty, One Resistance website: https://onefacultyoneresistance.org/
Chapter Development Grants: Chapters are encouraged to apply to national AAUP for grants to support items such as recruiting and establishing new chapters (takes a minimum of 7) or distributing AAUP’s Redbook to campus administrative leaders. Following a success some years ago at LSU-Shreveport, a spectacular new one is the chapter at SU-BR with over a dozen new members. Applications, and more information, can be found here. Completed applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 17, 2017. Please note that applications must include an itemized budget for the project, along with the most recent annual financial report.
Articles on Issues AAUP’s journal Academe and the Journal of Academic Freedom encourage submission of articles: https://www.aaup.org/JAF8.
Summer Institutes The Summer Institutes run by AAUP are useful and enjoyable as all who have attended testify. Members and chapter officers should consider attending one. See the aaup.org website for details. Some scholarships are available to defray costs of attending.
Webinars AAUP also offers webinars for members who can access through their membership login. Among recent topics are (again, all accessible through the website aaup.org )
- Faculty speech in the wake of the 2016 election
- Border searches of electronic devices
- The Family and Medical Leave Act
- Navigating Faculty Appointments
- Pregnancy in the Academy
- Faculty Handbooks as Enforceable Contracts
- Unemployment Compensation for Faculty in Contingent Appointments
November 1, 2017
A. Ravi P. Rau, President