AAUP LA State Conference Annual Meeting – April 30, 2016

AAUP LA State Conference Annual Meeting
Room 1834, Lavin-Bernick Center, Tulane Univ
Saturday, Apr 30, 2016
President’s Report

Since our last annual meeting held in LSU-Alexandria on May 2, 2015, the Executive Committee had its semi-annual meeting at Southern University, Baton Rouge, on Nov 7. Commissioner of Higher Education James Rallo spoke about the issues facing our universities.

We lost recently a good friend and national AAUP a long serving officer and staunch defender of academic freedom and faculty rights, Dr. Jordan Kurland. His support and wise counsel will be much missed.

A current list of AAUP members of our state will soon be available, the last one of May 2015 showing 167 members. Once again, all campuses are encouraged to have active chapters, it taking only 7 to establish one. Each chapter is also encouraged to maintain a website and link to the State Conference’s.

Participation in activities at the national level is also useful and important. The following opportunities are worthy of note. Travel support is possible for the Summer Institutes.

  1. A forthcoming webinar on teaching evaluation will discuss trends and areas of concern in teaching evaluation, drawn from a survey of over nine thousand faculty. It will also review AAUP policies on teaching evaluation, and have time for Q&A. The webinar will take place Friday, May 13, 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time, and is offered for free as a benefit of AAUP membership.
    Presenters: Craig Vasey is chair of the AAUP Committee on Teaching, Research, and Publication. Daniel Murphy is a member of that committee. Linda Carroll is a member of the AAUP’s national Council and a former member of the committee.
    Register for the teaching evaluation webinar at http://www.aaup.org/event/webinar-teaching-evaluation.
  2. Annual Conference on the State of Higher Education, June 15–19, in Washington, DC. Join colleagues for panel presentations, plenary speakers, lobbying, and the annual business meetings of the AAUP. This year, as we move into our second century, the conference will focus on racial, social, and labor justice in higher education. Register and find more information at http://www.aaup.org/event/2016-aaup-annual-conference.
  3. AAUP/AAUP-CBC Summer Institute, July 21–24, in Portland, Oregon. Four days of workshops and special programs to build faculty advocacy skills. We bring in organizers, data analysts, seasoned campaigners, and issue experts to build your skills as an advocate for AAUP principles, collective bargaining, and higher education. Develop your skills, network with colleagues from around the country, and have fun in a casual environment. Register and find out more at http://www.aaup.org/event/aaupaaup-cbc-summer-institute.
  4. Governance Conference and Workshops, September 30–October 2, in Washington, DC. We are now accepting proposals for presentations at the conference on topics relating to academic governance. See the complete call for papers at http://www.aaup.org/governance-conference-call-proposals.

This last year, we became aware of two cases of revoking of tenure and dismissal. One faculty member from SU, Baton Rouge, made a presentation at the meeting of the Exec. Comm. in November; he had also previously contacted directly the national office. There has been no formal move for our Conference’s involvement. On the second case, at LSU, Baton Rouge, the Conference provided monetary support towards legal expenses as did the national office, the faculty member having filed a suit in the courts.

There are two sources of support from the national office that we can benefit from. ASC Grants of $1,000 or 2,000 have minimal requirements of a functioning executive committee, a newsletter, and committees maintained for legislative monitoring, academic freedom, and chapter development. Applications are due Dec 15. Conference Development grants for one time significant projects are entertained each Apr 1 and Oct 15. Our state Conference encourages and will support any campus chapter willing to team with us and apply for these.

April 30, 2016

Ravi Rau, President

President’s Report – November, 2015

The State Conference Executive Committee met on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the Student Union of Southern University. Present were Leslie Bary, Al Burstein, Linda Carroll, Brooks Ellwood, Ravi Rau, Steve Rushing, and Sudhir Trivedi. Two guests attended, Gerald Hecht from the Psychology department at Southern University, and Commissioner of Education Joseph Rallo.

Commissioner Rallo spoke to some issues facing higher education, saying that the past two years have seen more challenges than ever. Nationally, the tenured ranks have shrunk to 25% of faculty. The humanities and liberal arts are especially out of favor, and competency-based education in the form of online degrees or certificates spreading (N. Arizona university offers now a 6 month $2500 degree.) The debt burden on students has meant, for instance, a precipitous decline in Law School applications.
Louisiana, in particular, has special problems. It has a highly under-educated populace with <50% holding high school diplomas. The budget for higher education has, in the past 7 years, been cut in half from $1.5 billion. Worse, two years ago, the TOPS item of $260 million, a separate item before, was moved into the regular budget, representing a further decrease in the $750 million number. Students are now paying 75% of the cost in tuition. The state is “fixated on work force,” legislators focused only on the existence of jobs (mainly in the oil industry) paying $75,000 plus benefits for workers with high school competency and a certificate of qualification in welding, process handling, etc. Legislators and many Board members seem not to see the need for 4-yr degrees, especially in arts and humanities, feel that faculty do not get it and are in a cocoon.
There is a “disconnect between faculty passion and advocacy.” Faculty try to reason on the value of higher education, not a winning strategy with legislators so focused narrowly on low-skill jobs.

In other matters discussed: The State Conference’s website is being upgraded. Campus chapters are also encouraged to have an active online presence and tie their websites to the state conference’s. There will be an annual meeting in April 2016, most likely on the Tulane University campus in New Orleans. Elections for new office bearers will take place at that time. For any ideas you may have for activities or speakers at the meeting, please let me know: ravi.p.rau@gmail.com