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April 20, 2007 Annual Meeting Minutes

Minutes, Annual Meeting, Louisiana State Conference, American Association of University Professors

The meeting took place on April 20, 2007, on the Tulane University campus and was held concurrently with a meeting of the Association of Louisiana Faculty Senates. President Al Burstein called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.  Attending were thirty-five faculty members.

President Burstein then introduced a panel of representatives from several Louisiana universities to give updates on their institutions' situations. They were Lynn Koplitz, Loyola University; Linda Carroll, Tulane University; William Stewart, Southern University, New Orleans and President of ALFS; Iris Lindberg, LSU Health Sciences Center; Jocelyn Thomas, University of New Orleans; Thomas Bonner, Xavier University; Louise Bostic, Southeastern Louisiana University; Mark Kuss, Our Lady of Holy Cross; Dominique Homberger, LSU A&M (in Baton Rouge). The reports from New Orleans-area institutions, while they varied in detail, shared a common theme of an ongoing deleterious effect of post-Katrina unilateral governance by administrators on current shared governance, with administrators continuing to make either single-handedly or with very little faculty role decisions that normally would have full faculty participation. For the state institutions, the matter of the future of furloughed faculty members will soon reach a critical point, as it is anticipated that the state of 'force majeure' exigency will soon end, simultaneously bringing furloughs to an end. It is not clear how many furloughed faculty members will be reinstated. Another common theme was the voluntary departure of numerous faculty members, difficulties in hiring highly-qualified replacements, and the influence of the reduced role of faculty governance in those decisions. Among those faculty who remain, an atmosphere of fear, silence, and shunning of affected faculty seems evident on a number of campuses. On the positive side, on some campuses faculty governing bodies are working to draft new policies for the future that articulate the faculty role in decision-making in the wake of disaster. On one state campus where the president took care that no faculty members were terminated after Katrina yet is making basic academic decisions unilaterally, the faculty are working to induce him to move the institution toward shared governance.

The second featured event of the meeting was a presentation by Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie. The Conference chose Commissioner Savoie because of the important positive role that he has played in working with the national office of the AAUP and upper-level administrators in state systems in efforts to resolve the issues outlined in the Report of the Special Committee on Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Universities. In introducing him, President Burstein recalled that Commissioner Savoie had been presented with the Henry L. Mason Award in 2000 for his efforts in the field of higher education. Commissioner Savoie's presentation provided information on various issues in higher education in the State of Louisiana, including the increase in the number of students receiving preparation for higher education, enrolling in institutions of higher education, and completing degrees. This growth has been accompanied, however, by a large increase in loan debt. He emphasized that the current state budget designates $10,000,000 for faculty retention and recruitment. Audience members encouraged Commissioner Savoie to communicate to all relevant parties that a critical factor in retaining highly-qualified faculty will be a return to normal shared governance and expressions of respect for the faculty on the part of administrators. President Burstein then presented him with a copy of the new edition of the Red Book.

During the business meeting that followed, Treasurer Charles Delzell presented his 2006 report, which showed an opening balance of $12,174.85, income of $2659.12, expenditures of $688.34 and a closing balance of $14,145.63 (with a gain of $1970.78). The body appointed a committee of Linda Carroll and Gloria Giarratano for the selection of delegates to the Assembly of State Conferences meeting that will be held in Washington DC on June 8, 2007. The body also approved a revision of the bylaws expanding the executive committee to include the past president and chairs of standing committees. It was announced that Linda Carroll has been elected regional delegate to National Council.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:30  p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda L. Carroll
Secretary, Louisiana Conference, American Association of University Professors