Redefining Hard Times as our Times

The AAUP’s Ninety-fifth Annual Meeting, held June 11–14 in Washington, D.C., combined plenary addresses by distinguished speakers, business meetings, lobbying visits, and award presentations.

Featured speakers addressed the meeting’s theme of redefining hard times as our time. In his plenary address, "Universities in Trouble,” Andrew Delbanco, director of American studies at Columbia University, discussed the effects of recent budget cuts and changes in student admissions practices on educational opportunity in the United States. He applauded efforts by the Obama administration to overhaul the student financial aid system and urged faculty to work collectively through their institutional governance structures to protect and enhance fundamental educational values.

AAUP president Cary Nelson and general secretary Gary Rhoades made a presentation featuring the work of AAUP chapters and conferences in pressing their administrations and legislatures to invest in higher education and the faculty. One example was a letter written by the North Carolina conference to state representatives in response to a proposed 11 percent budget cut that would have been devastating not only to higher education in North Carolina, but also to the eventual recovery of the state’s economy. In its letter, the conference pointed out that, even now, faculty work fifty-five hours a week on average, and students are having trouble graduating on time. Further deep cuts would jeopardize North Carolina’s commitment to high-quality, affordable public education by forcing layoffs and gutting programs that have taken decades to build. Nelson and Rhoades also highlighted a video ( .com/watch?v=DhPpUobWkPA) about union busting at the San Francisco Art Institute, an institution that in February 2009 laid off a quarter of its faculty in violation of the union contract and hired the notorious anti-union law firm Littler Mendelson.

Globalization Conference

In conjunction with this year’s annual meeting, the AAUP hosted an academic conference titled “Globalization, Shared Governance, and Academic Freedom.” Conference topics included issues related to globalization, academic freedom, governance, faculty work life, public policy, contingent faculty, and faculty rights and responsibilities. One hundred and fortyfive presenters and attendees from thirty-five states and Canada participated in the three-day conference.

Censure Actions

Delegates to the annual meeting voted on June 13 to place Cedarville University, Nicholls State University, North Idaho College, and Stillman College on the AAUP’s list of censured administrations. They also voted to remove the University of New Haven from the list and to delegate the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure to act similarly with respect to Tulane University once final language on the stated basis for censure removal has been approved. Censure by the AAUP informs the academic community that the administration of an institution has not adhered to the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure jointly formulated by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and endorsed by more than two hundred professional and educational organizations.

Capitol Hill Day

On June 11, nearly one hundred AAUP members from across the country—representing twenty-two states—visited Capitol Hill to talk with their representatives and senators about higher education. Participants this year focused on seeking a legislative remedy for the 1980 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University, which has made it difficult for faculty at private institutions to unionize. Thanks to the persuasion of AAUP members, several potential sponsors for a legislative amendment were identified. Members also voiced AAUP support for the Obama administration’s proposal to eliminate private lender subsidies in order to make more capital available to students in need.

Honors and Awards

Reporter Gadi Dechter was this year’s recipient of the Iris Molotsky Award for Excellence in Coverage of Higher Education. The winning entry, “Addressing the Divide,” was published in the Baltimore Sun on January 6, 2008. The AAUP’s purpose in giving the Iris Molotsky Award is to recognize exceptional journalism and to encourage thoughtful and in-depth coverage of issues that are critical to faculty and other professionals engaged in the enterprise of higher education. The panel of judges praised “Addressing the Divide” for the quality of the research and for raising the important and sensitive issue of how publicly funded historically black colleges and universities compare with majority-white schools.

State Conferences

Judith Johnston of Rider University was elected chairperson of the Assembly of State Conferences and Purificación Martínez of East Carolina University was elected vice chairperson. Jeffrey Kraus of Wagner College was elected member at large of the ASC executive committee.

The William S. Tacey Award went to Lynn Tatum of Baylor University in recognition of his long-time dedicated service on behalf of the Texas state conference.

The Al Sumberg Award was presented to Phil Smith, president of United University Professions (UUP), who accepted it on behalf of the UUP. The Sumberg Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have been particularly effective in lobbying on issues furthering the interests of higher education or in furthering such lobbying efforts on the state level.

A Konheim travel grant was awarded to the University of Missouri–Columbia AAUP chapter, which sent two members to the annual meeting. The grants are given to chapters engaged in activities advancing the objectives of the Beatrice G. Konheim Award, which recognizes outstanding work by AAUP chapters.

The John Hopper Travel Grant, awarded to an individual attending his or her first annual meeting, went to Angela Brommel, president of the Nevada State College AAUP chapter, part of the Nevada Faculty Alliance.

The ASC presents awards to chapters and conferences that produce outstanding newsletters and Web pages. This year, the Fairfield University chapter received the Outstanding Chapter Newsletter Award, the Ohio conference received the Outstanding Conference Newsletter Award for a traditional-format newsletter, and the Illinois conference received an Outstanding Conference Newsletter Award for its tabloid-style newsletter. The Tennessee conference’s traditionalformat newsletter earned an honorable mention. The Ohio University chapter received the Outstanding Chapter Web Site Award, and the Louisiana conference received the Outstanding Conference Web Site Award.

Special plaques were awarded to Glenn Howze of Auburn University and Flo Hatcher of Southern Connecticut State University in recognition of their many years of service to the AAUP and to the ASC in particular.

Collective Bargaining

Howard Bunsis of Eastern Michigan University was elected chairperson of the Collective Bargaining Congress, and David Witt of the University of Akron was elected vice chair. Three at-large members of the CBC executive committee were elected: Stanley Aronowitz of the City University of New York Professional Staff Congress; Paul Davis of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; and Gerald Turkel of the University of Delaware.

Dorothy Donnelly of the University of Rhode Island was the winner of the Marilyn Sternberg Award, given by the CBC to the AAUP member who best demonstrates the concern for human rights, courage, persistence, political foresight, imagination, and collective bargaining skills of its namesake.


Members approved two resolutions during the annual meeting. The first thanked Ernst Benjamin for his service to the Association in many capacities over the years, most notably for ten years as general secretary and most recently as interim general secretary. The second expressed support for the option for jury trial in the Whistleblower Enhancement Act of 2009. The act would expand opportunities for whistleblowers to press suit by allowing their cases to be heard in any federal appeals court.

Other Business

Annual meeting delegates approved changes to the AAUP constitution to allow for the election of at-large members of the Council. The changes appear on pages 102–5 of the March–April 2009 issue of Academe. The entire constitution, incorporating the changes is on the AAUP Web site.