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Summer Institute Online

By David Kociemba

More than a thousand AAUP members and supporters attended this year’s lineup of webinars, plenary panels, and discussion sections at the 2020 Summer Institute Online. Held July 7–August 4, this year’s Summer Institute featured presenters experienced in health care, AAUP policy, organizing, and leadership. “It was SO SO good to feel connected to the AAUP during this challenging moment,” wrote one attendee.

Workshops at the Summer Institute Online focused on providing advice on a variety of the challenges facing faculty. Presenters from across the country discussed how to organize during the pandemic to support student protests, how to democratize their chapters through antiracism efforts, and how to make progress on faculty goals in campus governance and in bargaining. The final plenary session focused on how to advance higher education’s role in sustaining democratic society.

Many attendees remarked on the timeliness of the panels. Medical and nursing faculty shared their experiences on the front lines of the health-care response to the pandemic and as teachers, researchers, and union leaders. Presentations on reopening campuses and the new Title IX guidelines offered faculty attendees strategies for engaging in discussions with administrations on those urgent matters. And as administrations across the country seek to balance budgets on the backs of faculty and staff, presenters demystified financial analysis and provided guidance on bargaining layoffs and compensation cuts.

Attendees valued the accessibility of this year’s Summer Institute Online. One attendee wrote, “I LOVED that it was online! My chapter has been asking me to go to the in-person institute for years, but work and family obligations make that impossible. The online format allowed me to work around my schedule and attend.” Participants also appreciated the recordings of panels, which made it easy to revisit sessions, to use closed-captioning, and to view a webinar at a more convenient time. AAUP members can watch the recordings and view supplementary material at https://www.aaup.org/2020-summer-institute-webinars.

Ultimately, the role of the Summer Institute is not just to provide training but also to build a sense of solidarity and connection among our members. One attendee remarked that the big takeaway from the Summer Institute Online was a sense of “HOPE—we are not alone in our struggles, there are many constructive and calm voices out there who are ready/willing to share expertise, and there are success stories!”

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