By Executive Director Robert C. Grosvenor

The Michigan Conference is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its chartering this year with a wide range of programs and activities.  As you know AAUP is the premier organization which represents the interests of higher education faculty exclusively.


The Conference and National AAUP joined in a unique pilot project to carry on membership campaigns simultaneously at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Grand Valley State University at Allendale and Delta College at University Center.  The two joined finances to employ Dr. Frank Case, an emeritus professor from Eastern Michigan University, as a part-time organizer.  Frank has long been an active member of AAUP at EMU and was very active in recruiting new members through one-on-one office visits.  Frank started working February 1st and will continue for six months.  He had made numerous contacts already at all three institutions and we are seeing results of his activities in increased membership already.  When first discussions were held about the project your chapter leadership was in the forefront expressing its desire to be one of the chapters selected for this historic venture.  Many of you have already met Frank at various chapter meetings and in one-on-one contacts.  We appreciate the support and assistance you have been giving him.  The goal of the project, in addition to increasing membership at the three institutions, is to see if we can develop a framework of an organizing program which can be “transplanted” to other states and conferences.  Complete records are being kept of all activities and a final report will be issued at the end of the six-month period.


Conference Vice-President Joel Russell served as Program Chair for this year’s important meeting and put together an outstanding program around the theme “The Public’s Perception of Higher Education – And What Can We Do To Change That Perception.”  Ernst Benjamin, former General Secretary of AAUP, was the keynote speaker.  Many remember when Ernie was a member of the faculty at Wayne State University.  He outlined the major problems facing higher education today and offered some suggestions for resolving them.  The morning panel considered “The Public Perception of Higher Education.”  Grover Hudson of Michigan State University   served as Moderator.  Panelists were:  Lori Hendricks, Doctoral Student, University of Michigan; Dan Hurley, Director, University Relations and Administrative Services, Presidents’ Council, State Universities of Michigan; and Earl Ryan, President, Citizens Research Council of Michigan.  Tom Guild of Oklahoma, Chair of the AAUP Assembly of State Conferences , was the luncheon speaker who talked about:  “Critical Issues Facing the Association and the Academy.”   The afternoon panel, moderated by Ariel Anderson of Western Michigan University, considered “How To Change The Public Perception of Higher Education.”  Panelists were:  Rochelle Black, Director of Government Relations, Oakland University; John Burkhardt, Director, Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, University of Michigan;   Larry Steckelberg, Director of the Office of Planning and Policy Initiatives for State Representative Dianne Byrum; and Deborah Cherry, State Senator.  Mary Burgan, General Secretary, AAUP, was the banquet speaker and spoke on the subject “AAUP And The Will To Believe:  Final Reflections.”


National AAUP will hold its Annual Meeting June 10-13, 2004 in Washington, D.C.  The Michigan delegation is scheduled to meet with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin on Thursday afternoon, June 10.  The Michigan Caucus will meet at the Washington Court Hotel at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, June 10, 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.

AAUP will welcome Roger W. Bowen as its new General Secretary effective July 1, 2004.  Bowen brings to the AAUP a deep commitment to the principles of academic freedom, tenure, and academic governance that the organization has long championed, along with wide and significant administrative and faculty experience in public and private colleges and universities. For his defense of academic freedom while president of the State University of New York at New Paltz (1996-2001), Bowen received the AAUP’s Alexander Meiklejohn Award in 1998.  Mary Burgan, current General Secretary, will retire June 30.


Conference President Tom Dietz appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations at its public hearing at Cornerstone University on March 5.  AAUP is the only professional organization representing faculty members which appeared before the Subcommittee this year.  Dietz told the Subcommittee that AAUP is America’s leading organization committed to defending and preserving academic freedom, tenure, and academic shared governance.  He said the mission of the AAUP is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.  His six-page statement can be found on the Conference’s website:  www.miaaup.org.


For the first time in many years the Michigan Conference and its affiliated chapters have an opportunity to submit resumes of candidates for consideration for appointment to the 15 state universities whose boards are appointed by the Governor.  Conference Vice President Joel Russell and I met with Susan Corbin, the Governor’s Appointments Director, and submitted recommendations for appointment to the Oakland University Board of Trustees.  We have contacted the other university chapters and urged them to locate qualified candidates they would like us to submit for consideration for appointment at their universities.  The Governor is especially interested in candidates who have graduated from these universities and is looking for a wide variety of age, sex, and race.  Most appointments will be made in December this year.  There will be two vacancies at each of the universities to be filled.


A major drain on state appropriations has been the tremendous increases in the operation of the Michigan Department of Corrections.  It now has over 50,000 prisoners in 44 prisons and 10 camps.  17,000 of these prisoners are eligible for parole and are costing the State $497 million dollars every year to keep them in prison.  The DOC budget has increased from about $800 million per year to more than $1.6 billion per year, and is expected to continue to increase unless changes are made in parole board policies.  CAPPS – The Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending is a coalition of more than 30 state-wide organizations and hundreds of members.  Its goal is to shift resources from excessive reliance on incarceration to other more cost-effective human services and for other areas such as higher education.  The Michigan Conference is a charter member and it is my privilege to serve as President. We have been able to achieve a number of changes which is slowing down the rate of increase.  We will continue to work until we can reduce the total prison population substantially.  You can get complete information about CAPPS at:  http://www.capps-mi.org.


The Officers and Executive Board Members of the Michigan Conference look forward to the coming year with a great deal of enthusiasm and interest.    Governor Granholm has announced a program designed to double the number of college graduates in the next 10 years. She said it is not enough that we have more graduates, we need graduates who have received the quality education they will need to meet the challenges of the high tech jobs the future holds in store.

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