The annual meeting of the Louisiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors was called to order by President Brooks Ellwood on April 5, 2014 at 10:30 am on the Tulane University campus.
Attending were: President Brooks Ellwood, Vice President Sudhir Trivedi, Treasurer Nicole Greene, Secretary Linda Carroll, At-Large Delegate Sandra Loucks, Chapter Services Co-Chair Ravi Rau, Past President Al Burstein, Leslie Bary of University of Louisiana Lafayette, Graham Owen of Tulane University, and Leo Happel of LSU Health Sciences Center.
The agenda circulated by the president was proposed for approval. Sudhir Trivedi moved to add the consideration of a resolution supporting HB 142. The motion was seconded and carried. A motion to approve the amended agenda was duly made, seconded, and carried.
The minutes of the executive committee meeting of February 1, 2014 as amended via email were presented by the secretary. A motion to approve them as amended was duly made, seconded, and carried.
Elections for Conference offices. The Nominating Committee (Prof. Michael Fontenot, Southern University Baton Rouge, chair; Prof. David Otto, Centenary College; Prof. John Laudun, University of Louisiana-Lafayette) presented the following slate of nominations:
President: Ravi Rau (LSU-Baton Rouge)
Vice-President: Sudhir Trivedi (SU-Baton Rouge)
Secretary: Linda Carroll (Tulane University)
Treasurer: Michael Homan (Xavier University)
At-Large: Leslie Bary (Ul-Lafayette)
There was a call for nominations from the floor. There being none, the motion to elect the slate carried unanimously.
Item 2: The treasurer gave a summary of the current finances of the conference; she will distribute a written report by email in the next few days. Upon receipt of the written report, the committee will review and vote on it.
Item 3: President Ellwood reported that he had contacted the presidents of nearby conferences with the goal of meeting with them to discuss common issues and approaches. The presidents contacted were those of the Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas Conferences. Some of the presidents will meet on April 27 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The number is uncertain and will be determined at the meeting.
Item 4: Issues concerning censured administrations and their resolution: The approval of a Conference resolution addressed to systems and administrations urging them to resolve the issues leading to censure is a matter of serious and pressing concern to the Conference membership. The secretary distributed the message of April 3 from Jordan Kurland of the national office concerning most of the outstanding Louisiana censure cases (three in the University of Louisiana System and one at Nicholls State) and the efforts being undertaken by the national office to work with the affected administrations to achieve the improvements necessary to the lifting of censure. General discussion emphasized that the Conference resolution needs to stipulate that national Committee A consult with the affected chapters and conference on the specifics involved in each case. A motion was duly made, seconded, and carried that a working group be designated by this body to formulate the resolution, to be submitted to the executive committee for its approval and subsequently distributed to the appropriate administrations and systems, as well as to the Conference membership. The following nominees were approved: Dayne Sherman (Southeastern Louisiana University), Linda Carroll (Tulane University), Sudhir Trivedi (Southern University, Baton Rouge), George Wooddell (University of Louisiana, Lafayette).
Item 5: Sudhir Trivedi moved that the Conference support HB 142, which proposes cutting higher education consulting contracts by 10% and placing the funds saved in the Higher Education Financing Fund. The motion was seconded. After discussion of a resolution on this bill and a resolution on reversing the cuts to state funding of higher education in general proposed by email by Dayne Sherman, a substitute motion was duly made, seconded, and carried that this body name a working group to word one or more resolutions that, among other details, will include figures on both the declining dollar amount of funding dedicated to higher education and its declining proportion of the state budget over the years. The following working group was nominated: Sudhir Trivedi, Dayne Sherman, and Ravi Rau. It was urged that the resolution(s) cite in particular the brain drain that the cuts have caused, which has also resulted in the loss of grants attached to departed faculty members, causing even further losses in funding.
Item 6: A motion was made to support a resolution proposed by Dayne Sherman concerning Bill HR 244. The motion was seconded and discussed. After slight modifications duly moved and seconded, the following resolution carried:
WHEREAS college and university campuses are an inappropriate venue for the auctioning and sale of firearms on, and
WHEREAS colleges and universities should be gun-free zones, and
WHEREAS the Legislature of the State of Louisiana is a gun-free zone for reasons of safety,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Louisiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors oppose HB 244, which provides for the lease of property at public postsecondary education institutions to nonprofit corporations or associations to hold fundraisers that include the auctioning and sale of firearms;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT opposing the adoption of HB 244 is not an issue of Second Amendment rights, but an issue of appropriateness of safety, venue, ethics, priorities, and public concern.
Item 7: The J. Thomas Hamrick Award for Contributions to Academic Freedom was conferred upon Past President Alvin Burstein for his extraordinary service to the Conference and to the profession. A certificate was presented to him at the meeting; a plaque will be presented to him at next executive committee meeting.
Item 8: The Henry L. Mason Award: there being no consensus on the executive committee as to an appropriate recipient among administrators, it was agreed that the award would not be made this year.
Item 9: Additional comments on the outcome of the law suit brought by the SELU French professors: Past President Al Burstein reported that a few weeks ago one of the three professors was separated from the suit by the judge because she had retired prior to being fired (it was observed that her retirement was a direct result of the cuts to her program). Very shortly before the case went to trial, a settlement was offered to the remaining two faculty members, who accepted it. This was viewed as a positive result.
Item 10: New Business: Al Burstein and Ravi Rau requested a new website director. Sudhir Trivedi volunteered.
There being no further business, a motion to adjourn was duly made, seconded, and carried at 1:30.
Linda L. Carroll, Secretary