What We Did This Summer

First off, we re-established a chapter at UWM! Thanks in no small part to the spearheading efforts of Jasmine Alinder (History), the initial informational gathering produced enough interest and members that an Executive Committee was elected during the first chapter meeting on July 17.

  • Under the leadership of Rachel Buff (History), our chapter president, the Executive Committee has been very busy these past few months. Rachel, VP Nick Fleisher (Linguistics), Secretary-Treasurer Renée Calkins (FLL), and at-large members Michael Newman (Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies), Jamie Harris (Urban Studies), and Shannon Freire (Anthropology) have drafted principles for our chapter to be submitted to the membership for approval at our next meeting, convened and established charges for the first few committees, and begun establishing lines of communication across campus.

Mike and Rachel have been working with the Communications Committee, chaired by Eliza Bettinger (AGS Library), to define our image at UWM through social media, our own logo, and t-shirts to display our solidarity at campus events like the Chancellor’s Plenary. Nick tackled Act 55 and was instrumental in reviewing the UC’s position paper on tenure for compliance with AAUP guidelines. We were very happy to see that the majority of his suggestions were adopted.

In addition to interacting across departments and divisions at UWM, our chapter has been establishing relationships with AAUP members on other UW System campuses. A recent meeting between UWM and UW-Whitewater members of AAUP has resulted in a list of recommendations for the Tenure Task Force that are aimed at preserving academic freedom and shared governance in the UW System in compliance with AAUP standards.

Most recently, AAUP members met with the Academic Staff Committee (ASC) to address concerns over departments issuing non-renewal notices as opposed to following UWM policy and designating terminations due to budget or program as formal layoffs.  As outlined in chapter 110 of the UWM Academic Staff Personnel Policy and Procedure, a layoff provides the employee with a set of important rights and benefits, most notably access to unemployment insurance as well possible reassignment or recall when a position opens up.  At the Fall Plenary, AAUP members asked the Chancellor to pledge to follow UWM policy on Layoff as well as the need for shared governance to meet AAUP guidelines, particularly as decisions are made about eliminating personnel and programs.  Addressing both of these issues (layoff vs. nonrenewal and meaningful shared governance) is critical as we begin a new academic year of budget cutting and campus restructuring.  Two position papers are in the works on these issues!

Our chapter’s membership has been growing steadily, and we’re looking forward to seeing some new faces at the kick-off event on Friday, September 18, at 3:00 in Curtin 175. In addition to providing an opportunity for chapter members to get acquainted, air hopes and fears regarding recent developments on campus, and brainstorm how best to advocate for all shared governance groups, Hans-Joerg Tiede of AAUP national, editor of the most recent Redbook, will be on hand. We’ve asked him to share with us the history of AAUP’s role in advocating for academic freedom in higher education and situate current challenges to the UW System within the national landscape. Joerg’s talk will undoubtedly provide valuable food for thought as we continue to define and prioritize the goals of our revived chapter at UWM.