AAUP-CBC Summer Institute Trains Faculty, Inspires Action

By Christopher Simeone

More than two hundred faculty members and other higher education professionals took a weekend of their summer to build skills, network, and have fun at the AAUPCBC’s 2013 Summer Institute. Held July 25–28 on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, the Summer Institute included workshops on organizing, faculty handbooks, contract negotiations, shared governance, faculty diversity, and university finances.

“The Summer Institute was a tremendous opportunity for our chapter members to gain experience from national experts on academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance,” said University of Washington AAUP chapter president Rob Wood. “We were able to share experiences with other AAUP members from across the United States. This will enable us to further strengthen our advocacy chapter to make it more effective as we fight for improved conditions for all faculty at the University of Washington.”

One workshop, presented by faculty members Greg Loving and Steve Mockabee and union staff member Deborah Herman from the University of Cincinnati, examined the public’s perception of university professors and analyzed different approaches to public messaging. In another, former AAUP president Cary Nelson and Gerald Barnett of the University of Washington surveyed the landscape of intellectual property policies and gave attendees tools to improve them. “It was difficult to choose which sessions to attend, of course, because I wanted to attend all of them,” said Caprice Lawless, president of the Front Range Community College AAUP chapter. “I chose to attend a broad spectrum of sessions to become aware of issues, to learn the vocabulary, and to hear what experts had to share with one another on each topic.”

Besides exploring the nearby university district and downtown Seattle, the institute’s attendees spent time building new friendships, watching a Mariners baseball game, and enjoying a boat cruise to nearby Tillicum Village.

The Summer Institute also featured open panels on contingent faculty issues and the student debt crisis. These sessions fostered discussion of these timely subjects and sparked networking opportunities for academic activists from across the country. “You make a lot of connections at Summer Institute, which helps you understand the national picture and brainstorm new ideas to bring to your campus,” said David Kociemba, president of Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College–AAUP.

Angela Brommel, president of the Nevada Faculty Alliance AAUP, attended the institute with colleagues from across Nevada. “The AAUP Summer Institute is a great experience for members of chapters and conferences as well as members of campus faculty senates,” she said. “It was great to come together with faculty and academic professionals from across the nation not only to compare strategies for advocating for our colleagues but also to celebrate the profession as a public good.”

Information about the 2014 Summer Institute will be available on the AAUP-CBC website later this year.