About the Speakers

John Hinshaw

“Citizen or Subject? Learning from Puerto Rican Labor History”
Puerto Rico occupies a curious and important place that allows us to understand the challenges and possibilities of being a professor in Pennsylvania in 2018.  Puerto Ricans are one of the fastest growing groups in Pennsylvania and our classrooms, so we can benefit from understanding something of the history of the island and its diaspora.  I will discuss Puerto Rico’s constitutional status, the reasons for their migration to small-town Pennsylvania, and how the crises of neoliberalism and climate change are changing the island. Puerto Ricans force us to confront what it means to be citizens or subjects.  The challenge to citizenship and a free society are greater than they have been in decades. The AAUP is threatened from without by antidemocratic forces who are increasingly threatening students and faculty with violence. There are also the ways neoliberalism and the corporate university are seeking to transform the university, which would weaken education and our society. The threats are not simply external, as many members of the academic community, including professors, are comfortable with either a corporate or paternalistic model for the university.  Against this, the AAUP vision of professors as citizens within a (relatively) democratic university and society is more important than ever before.  We can find a model for our work in the labor movement from the Progressive Era.

John Hinshaw, Professor of History at Lebanon Valley College, has served as an officer in the Pennsylvania AAUP for the last ten years. Much of his work has focused on developing chapters and their leadership throughout the state.  AAUP activists bring some measure of democracy into the academic workplace, which otherwise marches steadily from paternalistic authoritarianism to its corporate cousin.  Empowering citizens, particularly in the workplace, remains a radical project. His training is as a historian of labor and business, and his monograph on the steel industry in Western Pennsylvania also focused on the cojoining of working-class cynicism and corporate rule.  His recent scholarly work focuses on Puerto Rican migration to the Pennsylvania Dutch country.  He collaborated with his wife, Ivette Guzmán-Zavala, on the public history and photography exhibit “Dutchirican: A Latino History of Central Pennsylvania.” He lives in Annville, Pennsylvania.

Howard Bunsis

“How to Assess the Financial Health of Your Institution: NEPA Alliance Institution Examples”
Howard Bunsis will present on the methods faculty can use to understand and evaluate their institutions’ financial situation. Drawing upon financial information from each of our Alliance-member institutions, Bunsis will discuss: data typically given by administrations; data individuals can access publicly; data we should request of our administrations; and best practices to assess financial health of our institutions.

Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business, is th Ex-officio Chair of the Collective Bargaining Committee of the AAUP.  Bunsis received EMU’s Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2002.  As an attorney, he has focused on legal issues pertaining to the area of pension and post-retirement benefits; he is he is able to bring his expertise on these topics to the students in his courses as well as to the faculty he has served in his work with the AAUP.  In addition, he is the President of the Eastern Michigan chapter of the AAUP and has served as EMU’s NCAA Faculty Representative.

David Kociemba

“Back to Basics: Office Visits 101”
The foundation for effective advocacy is built through one-on-one conversations with members. Engaged members feel more ownership in the chapter and are more likely to devote time to organizing and advocacy. In difficulty times like these, it’s more important than ever for chapters to have an active membership. How can chapters take on a campaign of office visits without burning out? What’s to be gained by going to offices? How should we talk with difficult faculty? This presentation will provide the basics of setting up a membership drive in the service of issue campaigns or contract campaigns.

David Kociemba is currently working as the East Coast Organizer for the American Association of University Professors to help faculty organize new chapters of the AAUP and strengthen existing chapters so as to foster shared governance, protect professional standards, and ensure fair compensation. Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. He formerly served as the president of the Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College union and as a member of the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession. David has taught courses in media history, television studies, disability studies, digital media and culture, video art, and fandom studies. His writing focuses on the work of Joss Whedon and Jane Espenson, disability representation in Glee and the films of Todd Haynes, and paratexts like spoilers and opening title sequences. He has written for the journals In Medias Res, Slayage, and Transformative Works and Cultures, along with anthologies published by Syracuse University Press, McFarland, Lexington, and others. Along with his writing on film and television, Kociemba has appeared in Playing Columbine, the 2008 documentary that chronicles the history of the game “Super Columbine Massacre RPG!” He previously served as an expert on internet cat videos for Animal Planet.

Javier Ávila

“Visible: Breaking the Tradition of Otherness and Exclusion in Higher Education”
Javier Ávila’s presentation will shed light on the concept of otherness as it relates to students of color and their challenges in higher education in terms of expectations, mentorship, student life, and the academic experience. An examination of several areas of representation–the media, literature, faculty, and the curriculum–will raise questions and provide possible solutions regarding the issue of at-risk students on campus. The presentation, very much like his show, will be multi-genre and dynamic.

“The Trouble with My Name”
Ávila’s one-man show highlights the perspective of American Latinos who struggle to dispel misconceptions about their identity and place in the world.  “The Trouble with My Name” examines the issues of language, race, and social justice through Ávila’s poetry, illustrating what it means to be the American of the future. Ávila’s show, which was performed for over 25,000 people in 2017, embraces the diversity of a nation whose history is rich and colorful, transcending boundaries of race, ethnicity, and geography. More information about Avila and his performance is available at www.javieravila.net

Javier Ávila, Professor of English at Northampton Community College, taught English at the University of Puerto Rico for eight years before moving to Pennsylvania. In 2015, he was named Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.  A poet and novelist,  Ávila is the author of Broken Glass on the Carpet, The Professor in Ruins, The Oldest Profession, and Different, which became an award-winning motion picture entitled Miente. His books of poetry The Symmetry of Time and The Dead Man’s Position earned him prestigious awards by the Pen Club and The Puerto Rico Institute of Culture, respectively.