Magazine article Academe

A Tree of Life for the Aaup

Magazine article Academe

A Tree of Life for the Aaup

Article excerpt

How many faculty members nationwide have ever read one of the AAUP's major policy statements or reports, from Women in Science. Statement on Graduate Students, and Contingent Appointments and the Academic Profession to Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis and Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications? Pose the question this way: what percentage of nonmembers has ever read one? We can be fairly certain the number would be very low indeed. Even on the many campuses that have used our statements as models for their own policies, those involved in the process are mostly campus leaders.

The question is a shorthand way of suggesting that the overwhelming majority of faculty have no real sense of what the AAUP has done or what it is. No wonder people are not flocking to join us on their own initiative. I do not think most faculty even know they owe the tenure system to us, to nearly a hundred years of dedicated AAUP work. Might we have better success at recruiting members if the profession were well informed about our accomplishments and our commitments?

Members are our lifeblood. Their numbers underwrite our impact and fund our daily work. Their commitment fuels our national committee system and safeguards shared governance at home. Our need to build membership is immediate and real.

Some months ago. I proposed we build a national e-mail tree and use it to educate thousands of faculty about the AAUP. The Association's Collective Bargaining Congress and its Assembly of State Conferences have since approved the project. The plan is relatively simple. Twice a month-beginning in January the national office will send an e-mail to one contact person on a campus. That person, whether a chapter leader or a member, would either (in the case of a small school) send it to all campus faculty or (in the case of a larger school) send it to one faculty member in each department, who would then forward it to all of his or her colleagues. …

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