2014 Summer Institute

By Edward J. Graham

More than two hundred faculty members and higher education professionals came together at the AAUP/AAUP-CBC’s 2014 Summer Institute to build the skills and networks necessary for defending the academic profession.

Held July 17–20 on the campus of Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, the Summer Institute included a four-day series of workshops and seminars on how faculty can organize their colleagues, stand up for academic freedom, and advocate for research and teaching as the core priorities of higher education.

In one workshop, Marty Kich of Wright State University and Deborah Cooperstein of Adelphi University surveyed the landscape of online education and the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Another workshop, presented by Cecil Canton of California State University, Sacramento; Melina Abdullha of California State University, Los Angeles; Mike Chavez of California State University, Long Beach; and Belinda Lum of the INNOVA Group asked participants to work through the challenges of creating a learning environment in an increasingly diverse classroom. AAUP staff members Dawn Tefft and Emily McCann also taught faculty ways to organize, advocate for, and engage their colleagues in right-to-work states.

“The Summer Institute is
 an opportunity to encounter 
and exchange ideas about the professional status of faculty work across the academy in a unique and important way,” said Jay Brower, an AAUP member from Western Connecticut State University.

Attendees also enjoyed a special panel on the AAUP’s mission over the last one hundred years that featured panelists Ellen Schrecker of Yeshiva University, Hans-Joerg Tiede of Illinois Wesleyan University, and Ernst Benjamin of Wayne State University. Moderated by Tina Kelleher of Towson University, the panel and discussion provided members with an opportunity to learn more about the AAUP’s work on academic freedom, and return to their campuses with the intent of building membership and influence.

“I left with a portfolio of documents and strategies that
 will make my efforts to champion academic freedom, shared governance, and job security for faculty more sure-footed,” Virginia AAUP conference president Ron Thomas said about his experience. “The opportunity to interact with the key players in the organization was invaluable.”

Besides attending workshops, institute attendees made new friends and contacts from around the country. Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in several fun activities, including a cruise into New York Harbor and an evening trip to New York City.

“Attending the Summer Institute was one of the highlights of my summer,” said Sarah Hirsch, president of the UNH Lecturers United AAUP. “The environment of the whole institute was warm, inclusive, and professional. I attended a series of workshops for beginning organizers, and I gained much from the experience. Between lectures, role-playing, and open question-answer periods, I felt fully supported in the learning process.

Information about the 2015 Summer Institute will be available on the AAUP and AAUP-CBC websites in the coming months.