Summer Institute

By Kelly Hand

More than two hundred faculty members and academic activists honed their advocacy and organizing skills during an intensive, four-day series of workshops and seminars at the University of Cincinnati, July 27–30. The AAUP/ AAUP-CBC Summer Institute is an annual event that brings together AAUP members who attend every year as well as newcomers with a strong interest in standing up for academic freedom and the integrity of higher education.

Participants chose from a wide variety of workshops on topics such as building membership through effective issue organizing, improving academic freedom conditions for contingent faculty, understanding institutional finances, and supporting faculty and student activism on campus. A series targeted at members of collective bargaining units included presentations on member engagement, grievance arbitration, and judicial and legislative threats to the ability of unions to collect agency fees. A plenary session focused on counteracting the influence of private donors, while the closing session led participants through the process of designing buttons to garner support for local AAUP chapters.

“The AAUP Summer Institute is an inspiring event full of great organizing ideas and people who are happy to share them with others,” said Megan Rancier of Bowling Green State University. “I enjoyed the educational sessions and the many discussions that I was able to have with organizers and union leaders from across the country. I found this year’s Summer Institute to be very positive and motivational, despite the increasingly difficult challenges that face higher education today.”

Optional activities that gave attendees more opportunities to socialize and exchange ideas with colleagues from around the country included a dinner cruise on the Ohio River, a “Cincy Brew Bus” tour of Cincinnati’s breweries, and a game between the FC Cincinnati soccer team and the Rochester Rhinos.

Isaac Kamola, a participant from Trinity College, said, “I left the Summer Institute feeling incredibly prepared to get back to work creatively and energetically organizing to defend higher education from the numerous threats we face. I not only learned skills and made connections, but also developed new lines of analysis and critique. The AAUP Summer Institute epitomizes what engaged academic work looks like . . . and the company was also great!”

Stephen Boyd of Wake Forest University said, “I came away from the Summer Institute energized, and with many, many ideas about how to strengthen our campus chapter. I was inspired by the workshops and conversations to approach my colleagues on my own campus and ask if they are interested in creating our own culture, norms, and initiatives to make our professional lives more fulfilling, rather than be stuck reacting to the culture, norms, and initiatives of the administration. The Summer Institute could not have been more rewarding personally and professionally.”

Access photos from the 2017 Summer Institute on Flickr.

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