June 23, 2020
Louisiana Conference, AAUP
President’s Newsletter and report on Zoom meeting June 20, 2020
Executive Committee: Sudhir Trivedi (Vice-President), Tom Miller (Secretary), Kevin Cope (Treasurer), Dave Reid (At-Large), Ravi Rau (Past President), Dayne Sherman (Communication and Outreach), Brian Salvatore (Chapter Services), Vipin Menon (Media Manager)
Action Items (ideally before next meeting August 8 – Executive Committee to meet earlier by Zoom / similar)
- Consider issuing COVID-19 statement, and/or signing onto and helping to disseminate the one from the Midwestern AAUP chapters
- Consider imlementation of survey of COVID-19 responses, perhaps together with ALFS
- Vote on the proposal to subsidize memberships for 10 African-American faculty, and discuss implementation
- Consider issuing a statement on diversity/George Floyd protests
- Consider forming a committee to follow up on Hugh Wilson’s proposal, on advocating for LA institutions to join SROP or create something like it here
- Consider signing onto the New Deal for Higher Education and organizing around its principles
- Get an AAUP spot at Fall orientation, both for faculty and for graduate students
- Get AAUP brochures into orientation packets for new faculty
- Discuss statements referred to in this document on COVID-10 and racial justice with membership
- Consider signing onto these statements and/or issuing your own, disseminating these statements and organizing around the issues they raise
- Consider participating in voting registration / GOTV drive – while wearing AAUP paraphernalia, to raise our profile
Consider signing onto the New Deal for Higher Education and organizing around its principles
- Attend at least part of Summer Institute
- Ask colleagues to join AAUP
- Ask the AAUP national office for brochures and other recruiting materials
- Participate in chapter and conference activities, speak up, volunteer for chapter and state conference committees
- Run for Senate, get on Senate policy committees, work on faculty rights / faculty handbook
We had a lively Zoom meeting with 14 participants. Central topics were COVID-19 response, member support, and membership recruitment, and we have action items related to these as well as to the George Floyd protests. Shared governance, academic freedom, and labor rights as well as student safety are key issues here. We need to be visible and also supportive of related organizations. As District V Representative to the National Council, Leslie Bary had been in conference with leadership earlier in the week and the message from the Washington office was that to save higher education in the United States we should all be out registering voters and making sure to get out and vote in November.
We have $23,678 in the bank, and we are receiving about $1,200 per annum in dues rebates from the national organization. Although expenditures have been minimal in 2020 due to the COVID situation, we normally have some travel expenses, covering delegates sent to national meetings. There are minor costs related to website maintenance, and we sometimes host speakers from out of state and contribute financially to legal expenses of our colleagues (members and not). This means we are spending on average slightly more than we bring in. There are solutions for this:
1/ Increase membership! We receive a portion of dues for each member.
2/ Apply for grants for specific purposes from AAUP. Leslie Bary got one, and it covered the cost of the visit of Chris Newfield to LSU-BR and UL Lafayette. There are several, including chapter development grants.
3/ Fundraise. Part of why we are doing as well as we are currently has to do with a donation of $10,000 we received in 2018.
COMMITTEE A ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND TENURE
Chair is Kevin Cope (LSU-BR) and current members are Dean Sinclair (Northwestern), Sudhir Trivedi (SU-BR), and Hugh Wilson (Grambling). Committee A seeks additional members, particularly from institutions without chapters and chapters without active Committees A. Interested people should contact Leslie Bary (empowered as President to expand the Committee) and/or Kevin Cope (chair and convener).
The committee has received a number of inquiries on academic freedom issues from around the state, as well as some from people denied tenure. It has noted what appears to be a pattern of systemic gender discrimination across institutions and is keeping watch on this.
The state conference has traditionally used some of our funds to help colleagues with legal costs, especially when they had cases with broad implications for everyone. We decided to allocate Committee A a budget of up to $1,000 per year for this purpose. We may vote to supplement this budget at crucial times and we will, as we have always done, continue to support colleagues with our own funds. Following AAUP principles the Committee will use all funds to support principles, not individuals, and we support all faculty, not only AAUP members. We support rank-and-file, not only high profile faculty, and we support contingent faculty as well as tenure-track and tenured faculty. Please note that from an AAUP perspective all faculty are tenure-track or tenured, whether institutions recognize this or not, and all deserve equal support from AAUP.
You will have received mail from AAUP on the Summer Institute. Programs are virtual and no-cost this year, and they are very highly recommended. The program is at https://www.aaup.org/event/2020-summer-institute-online and while there is no cost, space is limited so registration should be done now. You don’t have to register for at all, and can attend for as short a time as 90 minutes. Once again, the sessions are VERY valuable and those of us who have attended in the past could not recommend the Institute more highly.
- Issues include safety, pedagogy, intellectual property, workload, research feasibility, tenure, and possible program and staffing reductions, as well as shared governance. We should insist that all faculty be involved in decision making. At several campuses only hand-picked faculty and departments head/s chairs are involved.
- We may very want to issue a statement on COVID-19, or at the very least sign onto the one the Midwestern chapters have written. Xavier sent a statement of support, and I would like the State Conference to consider signing. The document is here, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to sign. I would like the executive committee (Sudhir, Tom, Kevin, Dave, Ravi, Dayne, Brian, Vipin) to vote on signing, taking into consideration that several members have spoken very positively of this letter. We should then publicize the letter, and also any statement we may compose.
- We want to do a survey of COVID plans at Louisiana universities. Some, for instance, have extended the tenure clock by one year, in some cases with the possibility of opting out. What else is being done? If we are actually doing this, we need to compose a committee to create this survey and find a way to conduct it; we might want to work in tandem with ALFS here.
In the context of the George Floyd protests, many state conferences have issued statements on racial justice. With historic protests taking place in Lafayette, UL Lafayette’s Faculty Senate issued a letter on diversity in hiring, curriculum and admissions. The UL Lafayette AAUP chapter signed with them. Other chapters may want to emit such statements, and the State Conference may want to as well.
MEMBER RECRUITMENT + RACIAL JUSTICE
There had been a suggestion that we subsidize new memberships, perhaps targeting campuses that do not have chapters and need them. In light of the need to support racial justice and to diversity membership in the AAUP, this was modified to a proposal to subsidize, at 50%, for three years, ten new memberships for African-American faculty members, of any rank and at any institution.
(Another suggestion was a competition: we could offer a monetary prize to the chapter or chapters that can sign up the most African-American members in the coming year.)
The executive committee needs to vote on the subsidy proposal, which was discussed with strong interest, and create an implementation plan.
FUNDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION + COVID-19 + RACIAL JUSTICE
The state conference, chapters, and allied organizations may want to sign onto the AAUP proposal for a New Deal for Higher Education and use its points as talking points with administrations, legislators, civic groups, and the media.
The executive committee should discuss this.
NEXT ZOOM MEETING
Saturday, August 8, 2020, 10 AM. Leslie will in the meantime communicate with the Executive Committee and with you, to coordinate action on plans discussed today.
Present at this meeting:
From the Executive Committee:
Leslie Bary (UL Lafayette)
Sudhir Trivedi (Southern)
Kevin Cope (LSU-BR)
Dave Reid (UL Lafayette)
Vipin Menon (McNeese)
From the Membership:
Matthew Ware (Grambling)
Judith Miranti (Xavier)
Jana Lipman (Past President, Tulane)
Katheryn Laborde (Xavier)
Constance Balides (Tulane)
Christof Stumpf (LSU-Alexandria)
Carola Wenk (President, Tulane)
Brooks Ellwood (LSU-BR)
Biljana Obradovic (President, Xavier)
Louisiana Conference AAUP