Newsletter  March 2015 Louisiana State Conference, AAUP

Report on AAUP Assembly of State Conferences 2015 Spring Meeting

 

As President of the Louisiana State Conference, I attended a meeting of State Conference Presidents in Atlanta on March 7, 2015. This meeting had its genesis in a decision by our State Conference’s Executive two years ago to hold an annual meeting of presidents from the southern region to exchange ideas about common issues we face. Last year, Brooks Ellwood organized such a meeting in Tuscaloosa which was attended by him, me, and the presidents of the Arkansas and Georgia conferences. This year, the Georgia president, Robert Scott, in organizing the meeting, widened it to bring in officers from the national AAUP office as well. I summarize here some of what I picked up at the meeting as of interest to our conference and chapter membership.

 

39 people participated in the one-day meeting. AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum spoke on how to analyze institutional budgets. In brief, while budgets are plans, and are always balanced, it is the audited financial statement of an institution that gives what actually happened. These are available on websites under “audit” or “financial statement”. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) also has similar data. Fichtenbaum and Bunsis of AAUP have done extensive analysis of university finances and developed the Fichtenbaum-Bunsis ratio to indicate the financial health of an institution (useful to assess administrative claims such as justification for declaring exigency).

 

AAUP officers led discussions on chapter development, governmental relations, Committee A, and conference services. A special event was a presentation on historically black institutions. Again, I briefly summarize points of interest to our chapters on organization and funding opportunities. Currently, of roughly one million faculty in US higher education, 45000 are members of AAUP; of this, only about 9000 are in advocacy chapters (as are all of our Louisiana chapters), the rest in collective bargaining units of AAUP.

 

It is easy to establish a chapter. It takes a minimum of seven members to elect an executive, formulate bylaws (standard templates are available), and notify the national office. That’s it.

 

The best way to maintain a chapter is not to let it lapse. To maintain and build membership, hold chapter receptions, forums, talks, book clubs, round-table discussions on issues such as shared governance, academic freedom, adjunct positions (the main campus of LSU has recently started 3- and longer year contracts for Instructors), etc., hold surveys and publicize in newsletters, meet new faculty at orientations, thank long-term members at retirement receptions, give awards to colleagues, issue newsletters at least twice a year, maintain websites and social media presence, and take photos and publicize your activities and successes through listserv, online, and print.

 

Take advantage of sources of funding. The national office provides to state conferences three channels of support:

1          A per member amount each year (currently, the national office shows 179 members from Louisiana).  This is automatic.

2          ASC Conf Grants given if the following minimal conditions are satisfied: a functioning state executive committee, a newsletter, and committees maintained for legislative monitoring, academic freedom and chapter development. Applications are due every Dec 15 and these are easy to get. Of 15 applicants last year, 9 were awarded $1000 and 6 $2000 out of the total available of $21,000. Our conference should try to land that minimum amount of $1000 each year and use it to support activities.

3          Conference Development Grants. These are intended for one time or significant projects, applications entertained each Apr 1 and Oct 15 and not expected from any chapter every year.

 

The national office can provide other support. Staff can come and train for organizing or communications (how to use websites or social media). If a conference does not have a listserv, the national office can send e-mail broadcasts to state conference members through the list it maintains. Contact csimeone@aaup.org for this.

 

Members can attend Summer Institutes, officers especially encouraged to do so. These interesting gatherings with others from across the nation are energizing, attendees giving high praise. The next one is in Denver July 23-26, and some funds will be available for travel support.

 

                                           Ravi Rau, LSU, Baton Rouge, March 10, 2015