MICHIGAN CONFERENCE REPORT

Robert C. Grosvenor, Michigan Conference Executive Director

The Michigan Conference celebrated its 51st Annual Meeting April 2, 2005 with the theme “The Values and Value of Higher Education”.  There has been much discussion among the legislative leaders, members of the Executive Branch, and the news media in general about the “state of education” in Michigan from kindergarten through college. Of particular interest to university faculty members is the Governor’s announced goal of increasing the number of college and university graduates by 50% in the next 10 years.  It is difficult to know how this can be accomplished in an era of reduced state appropriations and higher tuition rates.

SPECIAL ORGANIZING PROJECT

The Michigan Conference and the University of Michigan Chapter continued the special organizing project started earlier in 2004.  With a substantial contribution to the project by your chapter the decision was reached that Organizer Frank Case would devote a majority of his time to making contacts with UM faculty members.  Many of you have met Dr. Case, an emeritus professor from Eastern Michigan University, who had long been an active member of AAUP there.  His specialty is organizing new members through his “one-on-one” contacts at faculty offices.  Frank contacted more than 300 UM faculty members himself which resulted in s substantial increase in the number of members signed up.  Frank has also worked with individual UM members to show them how to sign up new members through personal visits.  It is expected that this part of the program will continue actively in the coming months.  There is hope that the program might be renewed later this year.  The program was also successful in developing an organizing program that can be “transplanted” to other states and conferences.  There does seem to be an increasing number of problems confronting faculty members on many issues and, too often, it appears that the interests and goals of the faculty are given little consideration by the administration.  It is expected that with greatly increased members and more activity this attitude will change.  The Conference commends and thanks the officers and members of the UM Chapter for their involvement in, and their contributions to, the success of this project.

In addition to his work with the UM Chapter, Dr. Case also visited the chapters at Grand Valley State University and Delta College.  These two chapters  present extremely different organizing climates and it will take considerably more effort to be as successful there as we have been at the University of Michigan.

51st ANNUAL MEETING

Conference Vice President Joel Russell from Oakland University again served as Program Chair for this year’s important meeting and put together a unique program.  The theme was “The Values and Value of Higher Education”.  Roger Bowen, the new General Secretary of AAUP spoke on “AAUP and the Future of Higher Education”.  His presentation was followed by reports from chapter presidents outlining the situations they face at their respective colleges and universities.

ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING

The 51st Annual Business Meeting opened at 9:00 a.m. with President Tom Dietz presiding.  UM Secretary Charles B. “Tad” Smith was appointed Parliamentarian.  Dietz welcomed the delegates and gave a report on conference activities during the past year and noted some of the areas the conference would be working on this year.  The delegates elected the following officers:  Charles B. “Tad” Smith, University of Michigan – Treasurer; Sheila Teahan, Michigan State University – Secretary;  Charles Parrish, Wayne State University, Ray Ventre, Northern Michigan University, and Sally McCracken, Eastern Michigan University – Executive Board Members.  All are for two year terms.

The morning session presented three completely different topics:

CAPPS -  Barbara Levine, Attorney and Executive Director of the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS), presented a report on the tremendous growth in the Department of Corrections to 42 prisons and 10 camps now housing nearly 49,000 prisoners.  The Department of Corrections projects the prison population will increase by 5,000 more prisoners by 2007 if steps aren’t taken to contain it.  In 1984, Michigan spent less than $300 million on corrections, five percent of the state’s general fund budget.  Today, corrections consumes $1.8 billion, fully 20 percent of general fund dollars.  Prison spending surpassed university spending in 2004.  In 2002, we spent $228 million more general fund dollars on universities than on corrections.  In the proposed budget for 2006, we would spend $313 million less on colleges than corrections.

CAPPS has been working on this problem for about five years and its programs and recommendations are now being given serious consideration by some members of the legislature. CAPPS advocates changes in parole policies so that more prisoners who have served their minimum sentences and pose no risk to the community actually get released.

The Michigan Conference is one of the founding members of CAPPS and has given strong support to the program.  It is attempting to get some of those funds re-directed to the educational needs of the State, specifically, higher education. Executive Director Robert Grosvenor has served as president of CAPPS for the past four years.   You can get much more information about CAPPS, its research reports and recommendations by visiting its excellent web site at:  capps-mi.org.  Individual faculty members are invited and encouraged to help in this effort by joining CAPPS.  A membership application is on its web site.

MEDIA ETHICS

Dr. Michael Lewis, a faculty member at Oakland University, presented an interesting program on the “Media Ethics of 9/11”.  The presentation was based on his recent dissertation.  It examined how participating in that event through the media affected all of us, our nation, and the world we live in.  He is teaching a course in “media ethics” at Oakland and noted that it is refreshing to see students starting to “get it” on questions involving ethics and they seem to enjoy the class.

PROFESSORS FUND FOR EDUCATIONAL ISSUES

PFEI – The Professors Fund for Educational Issues – is the brainchild of your own Wilfred Kaplan.  It was established in 1990 as a separate Section 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation by the Michigan Conference.  Its basic objective is to solicit funds which are tax deductible for distribution to individual members seeking relatively small grants for projects in which they are interested.  PFEI also assists in offering financial assistance to members to attend annual meetings, summer institutes and AAUP conferences.  Since its founding PFEI has given out 107 grants totaling  $33,651.94.  In his presentation about PFEI, Conference President Tom Dietz, who also serves as President of the PFEI Board of Directors, outlined the history and development of PFEI and noted some of the projects it has funded.  Individual members are invited to “join” PFEI by contributing $25, or more.  $25 provides you with membership in PFEI and the right to vote in the annual PFEI business meeting.  Officers and executive board members of the Michigan Conference are elected to serve as members of the PFEI Board of Directors.  More information about PFEI can be found on the conference web site at:  www.miaaup.org.

MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

Michigan “made history” when on September 29-30, 2004, faculty members at Michigan Technological University voted to have AAUP become their collective bargaining representative.  This was the first successful representation election at a state university in over 20 years.  The Chapter was chartered 10 years ago.  Two attempts at a collective bargaining campaign in recent years were not successful in securing the required number of signed cards to call for an election.  2003-2004 presented a different situation.  In addition to the difficult financial situation facing the university, faculty members strongly believed that their opinions were given little, if any, consideration, by the administration.   They expressed their opinion in the vote in which a substantial majority selected AAUP to represent them. In addition to representatives from National AAUP who worked with the chapter, AAUP members from Oakland University and Western Michigan University also visited the MTU Campus to report on how effective AAUP is in representing faculty interests in collective bargaining.  The Chapter has gone through a revision of its Constitution and By-Laws, elected new officers, and is currently preparing its list of bargaining demands.  The chapter also established a policy to have AAUP members attend every meeting of the MTU governing board.

AAUP ANNUAL MEETING

National AAUP will hold its 91st Annual Meeting June 9-12, 2005, at the Washington Court Hotel, Washington, D.C.  Its theme is “Academic Freedom and National Security”.  The Michigan Caucus is scheduled to meet with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2005.  The Michigan Caucus will hold a special meeting late Thursday afternoon at the hotel to work out its position on issues coming before the annual meeting.  Each chapter is encouraged to send the largest possible delegation to this very important meeting.

UNIVERSITY GOVERNING BOARDS

Governor Grandholm has the opportunity to make two appointments each year to the governing boards of the state universities other than UM, Wayne and MSU.  She is making many new appointments.  The Conference forwarded the names of this year’s new appointees and their hearing dates before the Senate Committees to the several chapters for their information.  It is hoped that these new members will be more interested in hearing what faculty members have to say than previous members have been.

APPROPRIATIONS

At this time the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations has not announced its schedule of hearings.  If and when it does, President Tom Dietz will be presenting AAUP’s position on the need for adequate appropriations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  It should be noted that in recent years the Michigan Conference – AAUP, has been the only organization representing the interests of higher education faculty to appear before the subcommittee.

THE FUTURE

The Officers and Executive Board Members of the Michigan Conference look forward to the coming year with continuing interest and enthusiasm, but with apprehension and skepticism about what the future holds for higher education.  They note it is one thing to talk about increasing the number of college and university graduates, increasing the number of faculty members needed to meet the challenge, provide the funds for building construction and maintenance to meet the needs, and still keep tuition affordable for the majority of college students.  It promises to be an interesting year. It might be the year in which the faculty at the University of Michigan makes the decision to seek collective bargaining as the way to have an equal voice with management in the determination of salaries and all conditions of employment.  It could happen.  Will it?


Click here to return to list of articles

Click here to return to list of Annual Newsletters

Click here to return to Chapter Home Page