Ricardo Acuña running for the position of AASUA President
Biographical and Vision Statement
I have been active in the AASUA since joinng the U of A in May 2002, serving at different times as a Council and an Executive member, TRAS Chair, TRAS ARC Bargaining Chair, Personnel Committee Chair, a member of the Finance Committee, the Bylaws Advisory Committee, and most recently, since July 2015, as Treasurer.
I have over 25 years’ experience in organizational leadership, governance, and advocacy, and bring extensive knowledge and skills in strategic planning and leadership, governance, and working with elected boards to accomplish organizational goals and objectives. My paid and volunteer work spans institutions, non-profits, and NGOs at the local, national, and international levels. I have extensive knowledge of government, how policy is made and influenced, and of labour relations and the labour movement in Alberta.
I have been Associate Director of the Parkland Institute, a public policy research institute in the Faculty of Arts, since May 2002, responsible for all of the Institute’s budgeting, supervising all the Institute’s admin, research, and communications staff, and leading on strategic and annual planning and implementation of those plans.
I am currently Chair of Oxfam Canada and Deputy Chair of Oxfam International, I sit on the board of Public Interest Alberta and on the national Members’ Council of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. I was also the founding board President of the Memoria Viva Society of Edmonton.
Post-secondary education in Alberta today is facing numerous threats at the hands of the provincial government. Our own university is struggling at the hands of a new funding model and an administration that is leading with flawed funding priorities. Today more than ever we need an AASUA that is fit for purpose to face these challenges, and at this moment we are not.
As Alberta’s largest academic staff association (indeed, Canada’s largest academic staff association) we should be leading the public fight-back against ongoing attacks on our institutions and public education as a whole. For years now, however, our Association has been too bogged down by internal power struggles, procedural bickering, and personal in-fighting to have a significant impact on our campus or beyond.
Our functioning has grown so risk-averse that instead of listening to, organizing with, and mobilizing our members, our governing bodies have been closing ranks – fearful that being open and transparent with our members could be a legal or fiduciary liability.
We have a critical role to play in the future of our university and of post-secondary education in Alberta, but in order to do that we need an association that is open, transparent, effective, and most importantly, led by our members. We need leadership that will listen to the members and be responsive to them, instead of deciding in a vacuum what is best for them. And we need leadership that understands advocacy and organizing. I’m running for President, and asking for your support, because I’m prepared to spend the next two years working with you to meet that ideal.