Greetings from the Virginia Conference of the American Association of University Professors!
The AAUP, founded in 1915 by John Dewey and Arthur Lovejoy, is the country’s oldest professional organization for higher education faculty and has a distinguished history of supporting college and university faculty in the areas of academic freedom and governance. Tenured and tenure-eligible faculty as well as contingent faculty and staff have all benefitted from the presence of AAUP chapters on their campuses.
The Virginia Conference of the AAUP is made up of chapters from over a dozen colleges and universities within the commonwealth. This year we want to reach out, expand our presence on our affiliate campuses and develop new chapters on those which currently don’t have an AAUP presence. If your campus does not have an operating AAUP chapter yet, we hope to hear from you!
What the Virginia Conference does:
We organize an annual visit to Virginia’s legislators in January: Virginia Higher Education Advocacy Day, where we represent the interests of higher education, from budget issues to accessibility. Last year we teamed up with the Virginia Governmental Employees Association to challenge the Governor’s plan to address VRS funding problems by cutting state employee salaries. For the past five years, we have awarded the Mike Harris Award to a legislator whose record on higher education deserves recognition.
We also have an annual statewide meeting, to which all faculty are invited. In 2010 our theme was Contingent Faculty: The New Majority; in 2011 The Chilly Climate for Academic Research in VA. In 2102, it was The Future of Higher Education (in conjunction with the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education)
The Conference supports faculty whose rights or dues process have been violated –with advice from Committee A (Academic Freedom), access to the National Office, and some financial support from the Stern-Greet Funds for Justice.
What having a Chapter can do for you:
Where faculty have an active AAUP chapter, an independent faculty organization neither beholden to nor dependent upon the administration or the institution’s governance documents, they have the means to act collectively in demanding responses to the collective interests of the faculty. The AAUP provides a ready-made agenda of sound policies to which to aspire and with which few faculty will disagree; it provides an identity with and connection to the profession as a whole and its many chapters and volunteer-activists that can provide assistance and guidance to new and emerging chapters; and, staff to help the chapter develop itself into an effective faculty organization.
How to develop a Chapter:
A great way to develop and institutionalize an AAUP presence is to host an annual reception for the faculty. The State Conference can help you out by providing a Chapter Development Grant of a few hundred dollars. The first or last week of the year is a natural time for this: Welcome Back, Meet the New Faculty, or Retirement Best Wishes can be the occasion that brings your faculty together, and a brief appearance by a member of the Executive Committee provides the AAUP story. We can also provide workshops during the semester on your campus on issues like Faculty Governance, or Academic Freedom and the Garcetti Case. And fall and spring training sessions in Washington DC are regularly available as well –not to mention the Summer Institute.
For details about starting up a chapter, the National Office has many resources. Here’s a place to start: http://www.aaup.org/get-involved/start-chapter
The Virginia Conference Executive Committee represents campuses from around the commonwealth including Mary Washington, Norfolk State, Radford, Randolph-Macon, University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia State, George Mason, and Randolph College. Our Executive Committee members will be happy to visit campuses throughout the commonwealth to assist with developing new chapters and to reinvigorate existing ones.
Please contact the Chapter Development Officer, Julie Laskaris firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance. We provide small grants to encourage campuses to develop their AAUP chapters. We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Jennifer Barry (U of Mary Washington), email@example.com
Virginia Conference of the AAUP