Awards Go to Outstanding Faculty Activists

Georgina Smith Award 

Susan Fountain, an adjunct professor at the City University of New York School of Professional Studies, will be awarded the AAUP’s Georgina M. Smith Award on June 17 at the AAUP's annual conference. The award is presented to a person who has provided exceptional leadership in a given year in improving the status of academic women or in academic collective bargaining and through that work has improved the profession in general.

Professor Fountain is awarded for her leadership on two issues over the past year. In the first, she worked with the CUNY faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress, to challenge poor conditions in the School of Professional Studies. The school runs almost exclusively on adjunct professorial labor, and lacks many structures that can protect academic freedom and shared governance (for example, few departments in the school have more than one tenure-­line professor, so committee work is essentially nonexistent).  Her leadership led to a grievance—in process—over the fact that administrators in her school were unilaterally canceling certificate programs without oversight from academic professionals. The union is also demanding that adjunct faculty be paid for committee work, so that the governance forms typical of academic departments are brought to SPS.

In the second, Fountain spearheaded efforts to ensure water safety in the school’s facilities. After a staff person discovered discolored water in a faucet, management communicated with all staff about the issue, but not with adjunct faculty or students, many of whom drank water from the tap on a regular basis. Working with the union, Fountain pressed management to post signs about the water, making sure that no one in the building would accidentally drink it and spearheaded a petition campaign that galvanized the SPS community and pressured the resistant management to share water quality test results. In the process, Fountain established a health and safety committee at the school.

In nominating her, Fountain’s colleagues described her as “passionate, detail-­oriented, serious, and—most importantly for union work—she is a fighter. She fights for herself, of course, but also for her fellow members, her institution, and, perhaps most importantly, she fights for the students that CUNY serves. She is one of the best union activists I have had the privilege of working with, and if we can find many more “Susans” in universities across the country and the planet, there is hope of fighting back against the adjunctification of higher education. Susan Fountain is an outstanding union activist and pedagogue.”

The Smith award was established in 1979 to honor the memory of an AAUP leader, Professor Georgina M.S Smith (Mathematics, Rutgers), who was a committed feminist and a strong supporter of her local faculty union.

Outstanding Achievement Award 

Charlie Baker of the College of the Holy Cross will be awarded the AAUP’s Outstanding Achievement Award on June 17 at the AAUP's annual conference. The  award is presented to an individual AAUP member for outstanding chapter- or conference-level work in advancing academic freedom or shared governance; promoting the economic security of academics; helping the higher education community organize; or ensuring higher education's contribution to the common good.

Over the course of nearly six decades, Charlie Baker’s tireless activism and remarkable service to the AAUP has exemplified a deep dedication to our principles and mission. Charlie is especially recognized by his colleagues for his unwavering commitment to academic freedom and shared governance and for his get-it-done, pragmatic approach to problem solving. His long list of accomplishments is a testimony to his interest in ensuring higher education’s contribution to the common good. 

In nominating him, Baker’s colleague noted that Charlie Baker has given more than fifty-eight years of remarkable service to the AAUP and that the depth and breadth of his contributions to the College of the Holy Cross AAUP chapter, to his state conference, and at the national level make him a distinguished candidate for an outstanding Achievement Award.

Charlie joined the AAUP in 1958 and served in multiple officer positions over the years in the College of the Holy Cross AAUP chapter as well as the Massachusetts conference of the AAUP. He supported the formation and development of faculty unions at Emerson College and Suffolk University, and has lent a hand to many other AAUP chapters and faculty groups in Massachusetts. He has also served in numerous capacities in the national AAUP, including as a member of the governing Council, the Committee on College and University Governance, and the Assembly of State Conferences.

“The number of Charlie’s contributions should not obscure what an effective AAUP member and leader Charlie has been in each of his AAUP related endeavors,” says AAUP Massachusetts conference president George Wharton. “ I can testify that the remarkable and continuing health of our Massachusetts conference is due to Charlie’s great work. He has labored tirelessly for the College of the Holy Cross Chapter, the Mass Conference and the national AAUP, both on ASC and on Council. He richly deserves this award.”

Publication Date: 
Thursday, May 4, 2017