Volume 44, Number 4 - June/July 2009
Tireless advocate for higher education
After many years of service to her union, a stalwart advocate for her colleagues in higher education, NEA Director Ann Shadwick retires from leadership positions with the end of her term on the NEA Board in August.
Ethnic Studies Librarian at San Francisco State University, Shadwick has served in many capacities over the years, beginning in 1974 as the president of her local chapter and ending this summer with six years as an NEA board member.
She has served as president of the California Faculty Association, was a founding member and second president of the National Council for Higher Education/NEA, and the CTA representing higher education members in the CCA, the CFA and the Student CTA, where she mentored future teachers.
"I particularly loved working with Student CTA – their energy and enthusiasm gives me a lot of hope for the future," she said.
Although Shadwick has received numerous awards, including NEA's Mary Hatwood Futrell Human Rights Award, the James Davenport Memorial Award from the National Council of Higher Education, and the CTA State We Honor Ours Award, her personal favorite is one made by the Student CTA.
"In the end, they gave me what is perhaps the greatest tribute I've ever received: naming one of their awards after me," she said. "The thought still brings tears to my eyes."
Shadwick has been a tireless advocate for higher education within CTA, even if it meant standing up on the floor of State Council to oppose her K-12 colleagues.
"Having served with Ann as a board member, I know of her commitment to our higher education members. She is a tireless advocate for them. But above all, as a CTA board member, and later as a member of the NEA board, she worked to build understanding and cooperation among all of CTA's higher education affiliates and their K-12 colleagues," said CTA President David A. Sanchez.
"Ann has served CCA/CTA/NEA well," said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. "Her knowledge, understanding and compassion of our organization cannot be matched. She understands how it all fits together, whether you are talking about NEA, CTA or CCA. Her strengths and assets will be missed."
Shadwick is currently working with CCA and CTA leadership as it continues discussions regarding a possible merger with the Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers.
For many years, Shadwick has also been involved in Education International, the international affiliate of the National Education Association, which represents 30 million teachers and education workers worldwide, including three million in higher education. Attending EI conferences has been eye-opening for Shadwick; she has observed, "Given English speakers inability to agree on language, it is amazing we ever get global agreement on anything." For higher education members there are many common issues, including the fight to preserve academic freedom, attacks on unions, and the abuse of contingent faculty labor.
Shadwick is proud of her work with Education International, which has gained influence over the years in other nations — and particularly in developing countries where it is working to build and support unions. In several cases, she notes, EI has been successful in saving the lives of faculty who had been targeted by the government.
"The United States is so isolated from the world and most faculty are totally unaware of the trends and issues – for me, this was exciting and challenging. As an NEA director, I have tried to share some of the issues with my colleagues in California," she said.
Shadwick may be retiring from official duties, but she may yet be called on by NEA to play an emeritus role.
"I'm not going away completely," she said. "I will still be around to help if needed."