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Introducing the American Association of University Professors

September 27, 2019

This piece represents the opinion of the author.

To the Bowdoin Community,

In the first faculty meeting of the year, I had the pleasure of announcing that Bowdoin now has an active chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). I am writing here to offer a bit more detail about our mission, to invite those who are eligible for membership to join us and to invite all members of the Bowdoin community to consider the AAUP as a partner and an ally.

Despite its formal title, the AAUP is not just “for” professors. As we state in our new bylaws, all current and retired faculty members and instructional staff, whether full-time or part-time—including visiting and adjunct instructors, post-doctoral fellows, librarians and museum staff—are invited to join us by becoming members of the national chapter of the AAUP.

I urge anyone who is curious about the AAUP to spend a few minutes on its website (www.aaup.org/about-aaup). There you can find detailed information about the work that it engages in, through its tireless commitment to the core values that sustain all academic institutions. I would just like to quote a couple of passages here to sum up its mission. The AAUP is an independent organization that is “beholden to no person and no other entity; it is beholden instead to the principles and standards of the profession,” especially to the principles of academic freedom and shared governance. In words that have special resonance for those of us here at Bowdoin College, it seeks “to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.”

Those of us who have joined together to open this Bowdoin chapter believe that it will provide us all with a valuable forum for reaffirming and for acting on our deep commitment to the principles of academic freedom and shared governance here at Bowdoin, and to the ideal of engaged, optimistic, forward-looking citizenship.

And this model of citizenship also extends beyond Bowdoin itself. As members of the national chapter, we affirm our support for those working and struggling on other campuses across the nation. One new member writes, “I signed up to support all the good work that this organization is doing—negotiating for fair wages for adjuncts, protecting academic freedom, and advocating for shared governance” nationwide. Another writes, “I looked at the issues and updates on the AAUP page and saw their support for many things that I care about and interventions in areas that concern me in higher education. I pay similar dues to organizations that support my work as a scholar; I see the AAUP as an advocate for my work as a professional.”

Yet another new member reminds us that “we are fortunate to be at Bowdoin in an era when large public universities are under political assault, and smaller private colleges are watching their assets disappear. But our good fortune doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant and, when necessary, vocal in the defense of shared governance. The AAUP chapter is one way we can help maintain Bowdoin’s excellence—today, tomorrow, and in the years ahead.” Being vigilant, being vocal, being engaged, on a local and on a national level: these are our shared commitments.

We are holding an Open House on Friday, October 4, from 3-4:30 P.M., in the Shannon Room on the second floor of Hubbard Hall. We invite you all to drop by, to learn more about us and to hear about some of our plans for the coming year.

Sincerely,

Ann Kibbie

Associate Professor, Department of English

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