Summer Institute

By Kelly Hand

This year’s AAUP/AAUP-CBC Summer Institute, held at Portland State University July 21–24, attracted more than 270 faculty members and academic activists for an intensive, four-day series of workshops and seminars focused on building participants’ advocacy skills. Led by AAUP leaders, organizers, and issue experts, the interactive sessions provided practical tools for organizing colleagues, standing up for academic freedom, and championing high-quality, faculty-directed higher education.

Topics included mobilizing membership for action, engaging diverse faculty, strengthening internal and external communications, using the AAUP Redbook effectively, and building a government relations program. A number of sessions specifically designed for members involved in collective bargaining offered information and advice essential to negotiating in both public- and private-sector institutions.

“I’ve never been to a conference where every session was so important, so perfect for our needs as professors,” says James Canfield, a member of the University of Cincinnati AAUP political action committee. “I’ve never been in a conference environment where everyone, everyone, was respected, appreciated, and most importantly, listened to. If you want to know what solidarity looks like, go to the Summer Institute.”

In addition to workshops and seminars, the program included a screening of Agents of Change, which had previously been shown at the 2015 Summer Institute in rough-cut form. Produced by Frank Dawson and Abby Ginzberg, the film examines the racial conditions that produced the Black Campus movements of the 1960s and their connection to campus protests today.

The informal atmosphere of the Summer Institute made it easy to make new friends and connect with colleagues from around the country. Attendees also enjoyed opportunities to explore beautiful Portland. Highlights of the program included a reception at the Portland Art Museum and a dinner cruise on the Willamette River.

PSU-AAUP member Lindsey Wise says, “As part of the hosting institution, I was glad to share the successes of PSU-AAUP and talk up our great city while learning from people across the country about their own challenges and strategies. The spirit of the conference was one of shared vision, collaboration, and hope despite the many troubling issues affecting our union.”

Photographs from the Summer Institute are available here.

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