10/26/20 Honoring Our Members

Honoring our Members

Charles Parrish, President

October 22nd, the Union held two events to honor those who were being rewarded for their hard work and contributions to the University community with promotion and/or tenure for Faculty members and job security and/or promotion for the Academic Staff members. They were held in the peculiar atmosphere of Zoom Meetings. The Academic Staff Steering Committee’s (ASSC) meeting at noon was well organized by its extraordinarily competent Chair Jozy Hayek. It was well-attended, and those Academic Staff members who were recognized for their professionalism were, I believe, pleased that their achievements were being acclaimed by their peers. The ASSC Awards Event is part of its efforts to work with their colleagues to help build professionalism, to facilitate the socialization of new members and to show them the way to succeed in their work at the University. Many members have been mentored through the programs of the ASSC on how to prepare themselves and their materials to submit for promotion and to gain Employment Security Status (ESS). ASSC activities have built community and the strength of our Union over many years and, I, for one, am very grateful to it for that.

Later in the afternoon, the Union held a similar event honoring the members of the Faculty who gained tenure and/or promotion this year. Mark Dilley, our Director of Organizing, led (with the major support of Tammy Force, our Executive Assistant) the effort in putting the meeting together. Dr. Sara Kacin, the Assistant Provost for Faculty Development and Success, brought greetings and congratulations from the Office of the Provost to the awardees. The program went well with Clay Walker, the Chair of the Union’s Lecturer Steering Committee (LSC), recognizing those Lecturers who were promoted to be Senior Lecturers. Professor Hayg Oshagan and I read out the names of those Faculty who were promoted and/or tenured this year. Each member said a few words and showed the Union’s Certificate of Achievement they had been sent previously.

An innovation by Mark Dilley this year was the introduction of musical interludes by Professor Jack Blaskiewicz of our Department of Music. He played a musical piece by Chopin at the beginning of the meeting that was well appreciated. At the end of the meeting he played a “mash-up” of different songs that reinforced the tone of the meeting. He thoughtfully included the theme of the Mr. Rogers television show in the group. The meeting was a warm evocation of “a beautiful day in the neighborhood” for us all. As one awardee said in a lovely email to me, “It was really a wonderful and special event!”

It is perhaps a sign of the times that two Zoom Meetings, which can be very impersonal, came out as warm and valued encounters with colleagues. In these days of isolation and fear, we can use some human contact to validate our existence. If Zoom is the best we can do, at least it is something. It was rarely better employed than in the two meetings the Union sponsored last Thursday.

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Charles J. ParrishPresident, AAUP-AFT, Local 6075, WSU ChapterVice President-at-Large, AFT MichiganPresident, AAUP Michigan ConferenceMember-at-Large, National Council, AAUP5057 Woodward Avenue, Suite 3301Detroit, MI 48202313.577.1750