MICHIGAN CONFERENCE REPORT

By Executive Director Robert C. Grosvenor

Lansing , April 5 – The Michigan Conference just completed the largest and most successful Annual Meeting in the 49-year history of the Conference.  Its theme was:  “The Future of Higher Education in Michigan :  The Changing Academic Labor Force and the State Budget Crisis”.

The Situation in Other States.   George Wharton, Treasurer, Assembly of State Conferences of AAUP, Curry College, Newton, Massachusetts led off the program with a report on “Faculty Response to the Changing Academic Workforce” as he viewed it from his many trips around the country to AAUP Chapters.  He noted the situation is critical in all the states he has visited to date – and the future doesn’t look too bright either.

HEIDI Data.  Wayne State University Professor Marc Cogan, Chair of the Committee on Economic Data (Committee Z), gave an excellent slide show presentation which showed most graphically what is happening to the professoriate as the number of tenure track positions continues to decline steadily.  His slides are available on the Internet by contacting me at:  www.miaaup@aol.com.   Professor Cogan is also planning to offer a one-day Workshop this summer on “Data Sources Available and How to Use Them.”   Interested members should notify me by e-mail, and I will keep you informed.

What’s Happening Today?  University of Michigan Professor Charles B. Smith chaired a panel discussion on “The Changing Composition of the Academic Workforce.”  Panel members were Professors Ariel Anderson, Chair, AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress from Western Michigan University; Henry Cohen from Kalamazoo College; Kenneth Waltzer from Michigan State University; and E. Ian Robinson from the University of Michigan.

Each panel member presented the situation as it was occurring at her/his academic institution.  The WMU report was impressive because it showed that the number of tenure and tenure-track positions had actually been increased substantially during their last contract negotiations.  The reports of the other panel members were not as encouraging.

Higher Education in Michigan .   Former Senator John J. H. Schwarz was the first afternoon speaker.  His subject: “The Future of Higher Education in Michigan .”  He spoke from his 12 years’ experience as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education.  He has always been a strong supporter of higher education. 

The Senator was not optimistic about the future of higher education in Michigan given the current financial crisis in the State.  He noted it had taken over 100 years to develop Michigan’s higher education system of 15 public colleges and universities, 47 private colleges, and 28 community colleges.  He expressed grave concern about the possible dismantling of the system because, he said, “We’ll never be able to rebuild it again.”  His presentation was most illuminating.

What’s Being Done About It.  Sen. Schwarz continued his work as Chair of a panel which tackled the subject:  “Confronting New Realities:  Michigan ’s State Budget Crisis.”  Panel members were:  Michael Roy, Vice President for Financial Affairs, Northern Michigan University;  Lynne Schaeffer, Vice President for Financial Affairs, Oakland University; and Louise Anderson, Vice President for Business and Finance, Kalamazoo Valley Community College.  Each panel member outlined specific steps being taken at her/his institution to meet the budget reductions which are being imposed.  Some ideas were quite creative.  A question and answer period followed.

Conclusion.   AAUP members concluded that while future years look somewhat bleak, there is an opportunity for AAUP to provide strong leadership to protect academic freedom, tenure, and the rights and benefits of faculty members.  The job won’t be easy, but AAUP leaders are preparing for the fight.

Annual Business Meeting.   During the morning session President Tom Dietz presided over the Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officer s.  In his report he noted gains made at Western Michigan University in their new contract and the union security clause the Wayne State University Chapter finally won after a 30-year fight.  He noted organizational efforts continuing at Cornerstone University and Calvin College in Grand Rapids , Grand Valley State University , and Michigan Technological University .  Other organizational efforts will be developed in 2003-2004 in the area of the private colleges and universities.

Election.   Two officers and four executive board members were elected for two-year terms.  Charles B. Smith of the University of Michigan and Carol Johnson from Northern Michigan University were unanimously elected Treasurer and Secretary, respectively.  Executive Board members elected were Linda Kinczkow sk i from Eastern Michigan University , Charles J. Parrish from Wayne State University , George Monsma from Calvin College in Grand Rapids , and Paul Wilson from Western Michigan University .

Professors Fund for Educational Issues (PFEI).   The Conference has a wholly owned subsidiary – PFEI – a Sec. 501 (c) (3) corporation to which tax deductible contributions can be made by faculty members to finance grants for individual AAUP member projects, or local chapter or conference projects.  It receives several thousands of dollars each year in contributions which are used for a variety of purposes.  Tax-deductible contributions in any amounts can be made at any time during the year and are most gratefully received.

2004 Annual Meeting.   At the 2003 AAUP Annual Meeting in Washington , D.C. , on Friday, June 13, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. the Michigan Conference will host a “Special Reception” for all the delegates to “kick-off” a yearlong celebration to mark the 50th Anniversary of the chartering of the Michigan Conference.  There will be activities of note during the 2003-2004 year which will culminate with a special 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting Saturday, April 3, 2004 , in the Ballroom of the Radisson Hotel, Lansing , Michigan .  We hope your chapter will start making plans to have the largest possible delegation present to help celebrate this historic occasion.

Legislative Reception.   The Conference continued its legislative efforts with its Annual Legislative Reception on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 at the Radisson in Lansing .  It was the largest and most successful one held to date.  Plan now to be with us for the 13th Annual Legislative Reception to be held February 10, 2004 ; and the 14th on February 8, 2005 .   We like to plan ahead.

The Future.   I am starting my 13th year as the Executive Director of the Michigan Conference.  It has been an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed.  Each year I become more convinced of the very important role that AAUP can, and does, play in the life of faculty members all over Michigan .   Your chapter is one of the oldest affiliates of the Michigan Conference and one which has consistently fought to protect the rights and benefits of faculty members.  You have the most active and most consistent Executive Committee of any chapter affiliated with the Michigan Conference.  I know you are rightly proud of the many battles they have fought, and are fighting, on behalf of the UM faculty.  It is my hope that you tell your colleagues about the good work the chapter is doing and encourage them to lend their numbers to strengthen the Chapter’s position in its ongoing battles on their behalf.  They know that the larger the Chapter becomes the more effective it will be.  Encourage a colleague to join today.  I look forward to attending your Chapter’s Annual Meeting later this month.


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