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AAUP Names Julie Schmid as Executive Director

August 2013
Read a statement from executive director Julie Schmid

Washington, DC—The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is pleased to announce that Julie Schmid will join the Association as its executive director in October. The executive director, formerly called the general secretary, heads the national office staff.

Schmid is currently the chief of staff of AFT-Wisconsin, which represents higher education faculty as well as K–12 teachers and public employees throughout the state. She has worked for faculty unions around the country, including as coordinator for the Portland State University AAUP chapter and as an activist with COGS-UE Local 896, a union for graduate student employees at the University of Iowa, where Schmid earned her PhD. She served as a senior program officer in the AAUP’s Department of Organizing and Services from 2002 to 2008.

“I am excited to serve as the AAUP’s executive director because this is where the fight is. US higher education is in crisis,” Schmid explains. “We are four decades into a radical defunding of state institutions of higher education. Faculty salaries are stagnant, while students are asked to pay more and more for their education. The overuse and exploitation of contingent faculty and graduate student employees continues. Academic freedom is under attack, and faculty senates have seen their voices diminished—sometimes because of administrative overreach and sometimes because the faculty has not exercised the power it has. And collective bargaining—which in many instances has proven to be an important means for bettering the working conditions of faculty members and academic professionals and for maintaining academic quality—is now under attack.

The AAUP is the conscience of the profession. For nearly a century, the AAUP has defined professional standards for higher education and vigorously defended those standards when they have come under attack. And for nearly half that time, the AAUP has epitomized faculty unionism by organizing strong collective bargaining chapters and by enshrining AAUP principles and policies in collective bargaining agreements. As someone who has spent most of my career in the field organizing academic workers, I know how important the AAUP is because I hear how important the AAUP’s policy documents are any time I am on a campus.”

AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum reacted to Schmid’s appointment: "I am thrilled to welcome Julie Schmid as the new Executive Director of the AAUP.  When I ran for office as part of the "Organizing for Change" slate our platform recognized that higher education in general and the AAUP in particular stand at a critical crossroads. Our profession and values are under attack through assaults on collective bargaining rights and shared governance, abuse of non-tenure track faculty (both full-time and part-time) and the consequent erosion of tenure.  Moreover, we have seen a rising tide of assaults on academic freedom and the rights of faculty, academic professionals and students.  AAUP must place our highest priority on organizing so that we become a more powerful, articulate, and energetic force committed to mobilizing faculty (full-time and part-time), academic professionals  and graduate students in a broad variety of ways to fight for our profession and for a system of higher education that serves the public good.  Julie Schmid was the consensus choice of the AAUP Council.  She brings a wealth of experience as an activist, organizer and leader to the position of Executive Director and will help lead the AAUP in a new direction, at a time when not only academic freedom, shared governance and economic security for faculty and academic professionals but the very survival of accessible, affordable, and high quality public education are seriously endangered." 

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. The AAUP is a nonprofit professional association headquartered in Washington, DC.

Media Contact: 
Robin Burns
Publication Date: 
Friday, August 9, 2013