Starting an AAUP Chapter, Step By Step

AAUP members can establish a chapter at an institution that is either accredited or is a candidate for accreditation and that has at least seven active AAUP members.

Calling an Organizational Meeting

The first step is to call an organizational meeting to elect officers. Officers must include a president, vice president, and either a secretary and a treasurer or a secretary-treasurer. Many chapters also have an executive council comprised of these officers and several others elected at large. Upon receipt of the names of the officers and a copy of the bylaws by the Washington office, the Association will extend official recognition to the chapter.

Informing the Administration

Once members of the chapter are adequately informed on the aims of the Association and of their own chapter, they or their representatives should inform the administration about the formation of the chapter. In most instances, administrative officers will encourage this development and welcome the professionalism it represents. Some administrators may wish to know more about the Association from the local representatives, or may express interest in receiving copies of Association publications. In any case, members of the group should explain the professional nature of the organization and impress upon the administration that the chapter supports efforts to advance the standards of the institution.

Drafting Chapter Bylaws

A committee to draft chapter bylaws is ordinarily appointed at the first organizational meeting. This committee should attempt to do its work promptly, and may be guided by the sample chapter bylaws prepared by the national AAUP. The chapter's bylaws must be in harmony with the principles and procedures of the Association and with its constitution. See Sample Chapter Bylaws.

Inducting Officers

Many chapters induct their new officers at a formal ceremony held either during the organizational meeting or at the second meeting of the chapter. The president of the institution should be invited to attend this ceremony and may be asked to extend a word of welcome to members of the new chapter and visiting dignitaries. The latter may include representatives of other chapters located in adjacent areas and a state or national representative. Upon induction, the president of the chapter may give a short address, during which some aspects of the chapter's program could be outlined. The state or national representative could be given an opportunity to discuss the responsibilities of chapter members and the work of the Association. Non-members of the Association as well as members should be invited to attend this open induction meeting.

Notify the AAUP National Office

Make sure to let the national office know when your chapter is officially launched. Send your officer roster and bylaws to organizing@aaup.org.

Chapter Meetings

Chapter activities vary from campus to campus. Most chapters find it helpful to hold at least four meetings per year. Some hold monthly meetings during the academic year. In addition to business meetings, chapters often hold forums on topics such as salary equity or the tenure process, a reception for new faculty members early in the fall, or a dinner meeting with a guest speaker in the spring. Other meetings may be held as circumstances warrant.

Membership Development

Members count. No matter how energetic a chapter’s officers may be, it will not be effective without faculty support. Here are a few tips on recruiting new members:

  • Appoint a membership director who will be responsible for the membership campaign and report regularly to the chapter executive committee. At a large institution, the membership director should establish a committee with members responsible for recruitment in their respective schools, departments, or building.
  • Emphasize the importance of strong membership for achieving chapter objectives and call attention to the chapter’s achievements or goals.
  • Membership applications and dues should be collected directly by the membership director or the director's designee, recorded for the chapter's records, and forwarded weekly to the national office. This encourages the one-to-one recruitment that is most effective. Moreover, even well-intentioned faculty often forget to send applications to the national office. The chapter membership director must assume responsibility for weekly remittance to Washington of applications and dues in order for the national office's membership records to be accurate and current. The director and committee members then know whom to contact for the necessary follow-up visits.
  • Request membership rosters periodically from the national office’s membership department in order to identify lapsed members for reactivation and to make sure that newly recruited members are reflected in the records.

Chapter Activities

While the chapter may sometimes decide to take on issues that are controversial among members, the foundation for a strong, active chapter over a period of time is consensus rather than constant controversy. Chapter activities should be developed in response to the interests and needs of faculty and other members.

Different types of activities that AAUP chapters engage in include:

  • Playing a prominent role in local issues, such as supporting a faculty member in an academic freedom case or advocating changes in the faculty handbook.
  • Providing professional support for members through mentoring programs for junior faculty or graduate students or assisting faculty members in preparing for tenure evaluations.
  • Presenting awards to students or faculty.
  • Lobbying on legislation involving higher education issues.
  • Inviting legislators to campus to discuss the legislative session and their positions on education legislation. This provides politicians with an opportunity to discuss issues and affords faculty members the opportunity to build relationships and convey positions.
  • Conducting forums on provocative professional issues such as salary equity, academic search processes, or accreditation matters.

Chapter Publications

Most chapters produce newsletters, which may be print or electronic, long or short, semi-monthly or once a semester. Some chapter newsletters are brief and mostly contain chapter business for chapter members; others include articles of broader interest and are circulated to all faculty and administrators on campus, regardless of membership.  An appeal for membership and an application should be included regularly.

Chapters may also produce websites, which should include at least basic contact and meeting information. If circumstances warrant, chapters may also wish to issue press releases or information sheets on pressing campus topics.

Resources

Upon request, the national AAUP provides:

  • mini-Redbooks, containing three of the Association's key policy statements;
  • all-purpose membership brochures and brochures focusing on contingent faculty;
  • extra copies of the AAUP magazine Academe; and
  • membership rosters and labels.

Many state conferences can provide:

  • conference newsletters reporting on issues and AAUP activities at the state level;
  • speakers from the state leadership or visitors from nearby campuses;
  • consultation on academic governance, financial analysis, and media relations; and
  • chapter leadership training and assistance in chapter development.

See a directory of state conferences. E-mail organizing@aaup.org for help.