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President's Message

President's Message
By Michael Harkins

Since our last issue of Illinois Academe, the Illinois Conference has continued its active involvement in issues of academic freedom, shared governance and tenure. Our Board, officers and committees have provided leadership, guidance and direct assistance to numerous faculty. Our Chapter Chairs communicate with Conference officers to apply the necessary resources and expertise to help our colleagues. Currently, several of our advocacy chapters are engaged in discussions over the fair and equitable treatment of faculty. Our collective bargaining chapters are seeking contracts.

Our membership continues to grow. Networking and enhanced communication have played a major role in our work to build new Chapters. Discussions are ongoing with faculty for the addition of several new Chapters for the summer. Each of our Chapters plays a major role in the success of the state Conference and our National office. Our state Chapters are now active in hosting our fall and spring conferences. Attendance at these meetings continues to increase. As a Conference we are engaging faculty in our mission. Our web site now includes significant documents, reports and position papers, including Rudy Fichtenbaum's presentation on "The AAUP Mission in the 21st Century" and the AAUP position on Academic Freedom and Tenure at Northeastern Illinois University, 2013.

Last November, I had the opportunity to attend the ASC Summit in Columbus, Ohio, hosted by the ASC and the Ohio State Conference. This Summit focused on building strong state conferences, improving existing conferences and best practices. The message was clear. Strong state conferences start with strong and active chapters; the Illinois Conference will continue that work.

Our Spring Conference will be hosted by North Central College in Naperville, Illinois on Saturday, April 26, 2014. Our morning sessions will present a significant tenure issue and major legislative issues concerning pension reform and lawsuits affecting higher education in Illinois. Our afternoon keynote speakers will include the AAUP Executive Director Julie Schmid and Ohio's State Conference Executive Director Sara Kilpatrick. Both will be joined by Diana Vallera, Adjunct Faculty President, Columbia College, Chicago. Their session will present the "Economic Status of Women in Higher Education." Special attention will be given to best practices and handbook language. References will also be made to collective bargaining agreements. The second part of their presentation will explain how to organize and mobilize a chapter to achieve pro-women policy changes. All higher education faculty are invited to attend. Our web site will have additional information concerning conference registration.

This June, the AAUP will hold its Annual Conference on the State of Higher Education in Washington, D.C. The Conference and business meeting runs from June 11 through June 15, 2014. The Annual AAUP Summer Institute will be held at Hofstra University on Long Island, N.Y. from July 17 through July 20, 2014. I encourage you to attend both events. Take part in the debates and discussions with our colleagues from across the country. Help us strengthen AAUP.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the strong support the Illinois Conference has received from our National officers and staff. Their ability to engage with us and respond quickly in difficult situations has increased our effectiveness and success. Together we will continue to fight against violations of our principles of academic freedom, tenure and shared governance.