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Guest Post: AAUP 2018 Summer Institute Offers Training, Resources, Information

The annual AAUP Summer Institute gathers members from around the country for a 2-day series of workshops on a variety of topics related to faculty governance and academic freedom. From a wide-ranging catalog, you select the sessions you want to attend, and you can also opt to participate in after-hours social events like trips to a local points of interest or tours of area microbreweries.

This summer’s Institute was held on the campus of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and I was attending for the second time. In one workshop, the AAUP’s legal team walked us through recent court cases impacting higher education—Janus vs American Federation, McAdams vs Marquette, USC vs the National Labor Relations board, and so on. The AAUP regularly files amicus briefs and provides legal support for academics and faculty unions; the workshop provided a look at its efforts to defend free speech and labor solidarity in a landscape dominated by corporate interests.

A second workshop, run by the Unkoch My Campus organization, trained participants in opposition and institutional research—how to obtain donor information from 990 tax statements, how to use websites like to read deleted webpages or save endangered information, how to submit a FOIA request—while sketching an outline of Koch Industries’ integrated attack on American colleges and Universities.

At the Institute’s plenary session, a panel of faculty members who had been targeted by politically motivated harassment campaigns offered advice on how to respond. Another workshop offered a crash course on university finances—two accounting professors guided us through an analysis of our own institutions’ financial statements and helped us input information into the spreadsheet they had created.

In my final workshop, we received a quick-guide to AUUP protections for adjunct faculty and practiced modeling responses to a variety of scenarios based on recent AAUP interventions.

The Summer Institute workshops I’ve attended have always been dense with information and have involved hands-on applications of whatever we’ve been learning. We’re given packets of additional resources to take home, and presenters encourage us to contact them if we need extra help. I hope more members of our South Carolina Conference will consider attending future Institutes. It’s a great way to connect with academics and activists from around the country, and the tools and perspective gained can’t be found anywhere else.

David Bruzina is the VP of USC-Aiken's AAUP. He attended both the 2017 and 2018 AAUP Summer Institutes.

For further information about the AAUP Summer Institute, including a look at past workshop offerings, click here:

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