CAUT - Past, Present and Future

by Bill Shull, RPT, CAUT Committee Co-Chair

A Brief Overview of the Past:

The first CAUT official PTG efforts began in the late 1960’s, according to PTG historian Vince Mrykalo in his article “CAUT History, Part 1.”  The first chair was Lynn Hansen, who was Vince’s mentor!  Within a decade of the birth of the PTG, a college and university technicians’ community  is a well-formed idea, that of providing annual Institute space and resources for the assembling of college, university and conservatory technicians “to carry out their functions.” And later, in reference to the work of the CAUT Committee, “(t)he object…is…to carry on a continuing program of assembling and exchanging information concerning the problems, both technical and economic, peculiar to this type of work.”


Then-Journal Technical Editor Don Galt, University of Michigan Professor Owen Jorgensen, USC head technician Norman Neblett were all members of the first College and University Committee. Jorgensen and Neblett received the PTG’s highest award, the Golden Hammer Award.  After three years as committee chair, George Peters became a Regional Vice-President.

From that first appointment the relationship between the PTG and its newly created CAUT Committe ebbed and flowed with changing PTG priorities. But it is clear that this committee was an important new endeavor, judging from its illustrious membership: Chair, Lynn Hansen, BYU;  Don Galt, Owen Jorgensen, Norman Neblett, Don Stephens, Doug Strong

From 1968 to 1981 an active, healthy committee of from 5 to 10 experienced and illustrious PTG members organized a Forum for their peers at the Technical Institute, published a newsletter and worked to give college and university technicians support and community. However, from 1982 to 1983 the committee’s size was reduced to three, then two, and in 1984, the bylaws changes included its “disbanding” with the rationale that its work fell under Institute Committee charges. Perhaps PTG leadership was uncomfortable with the growing group of college technicians.

The PTG was going through a major transition from 1978 to 1986, with changes in the professional staff leadership, certification (the development of objective testing), and the consolidation of membership classifications.  Volunteers may have been difficult to recruit, but it is possible that, feeling growing pressures, the PTG may not have wanted to recruit volunteers. It’s also possible that the evolving Associate Member/RPT discussion provided the philosophical basis for ending specialty groups. It couldn’t accommodate the needs of a growing group of college technicians. In the future, with PTG historian Vince Mrykalo, we hope to further recognize the fine leaders of the early CAUT movement in the PTG, including chairs Jim Reeder (1973-1975), George Peters (1975-1978), Joel Jones (1980-82), Ernest Weissenborn (1978-1980), and newsletter editor Yat-Lam Hong (who served on CAUT Committees and as technical editor of the Journal). 

In 1987 President Marshall Hawkins announced the formation of a new College and University Technicians Committee. Tom McNiel led the return, chairing the committee for many years. In addition to the development of a CAUT list, providing specialized CAUT classes at conventions along with a CAUT Forum or roundtable where CAUTs could share and exchange ideas (often a CAUT Friday), and the development of the online list-serve (which provided the foundation for all future PTG online communities); there was the CAUT Guidelines for Effective Institutional Maintenance (1990, under the leadership of Lou Tasciotti), and a revised Guidelines (2004, led by Fred Sturm). And from the mid-1990s until 2010 CAUT maintained a website, created and maintained by Scott Thile.

One of the most memorable Institute events was “The Piano in Academia,” at the Chicago convention in 2002, coordinated by CAUT Chair Don McKechnie. It included a keynote presentation by Dr. Robert Weirich, and a panel discussion of faculty, administrators and technicians. This event drew the finest from our trade and from music schools for an extraordinary full day of presentation and discussion. 

For most of the last decade, the CAUT Committee has worked on the development of a CAUT Curriculum, recognizing the need for CAUTs to have specialized training, education and skills. Four years ago, after discussion between members of the CAUT Committee, the Marketing Committee, the Bylaws Committee and the PTG Board, the CAUT Committee was invited by the PTG board and president Dale Probst to join with them in building a CAUT Endorsement. I remember, as a regional vice-president, the long-range planning sessions which prepared for this. The PTG board, along with the Bylaws and CAUT Committees put hundreds of hours into this project, separately and together. Council discussed it, pro and con, and decided to take another look at it the following year. Unfortunately for that endorsement the following administration was not as friendly to the idea and threw its weight behind a council resolution to eliminate the Long-Range Planning goal which recommended the development of additional certifications. However, the work done by this combined team remains available for future CAUT and PTG leaders as they strive to find a way to support the professional needs of PTG CAUT membership and market the PTG to non-member CAUT technicians. 

Another challenge to the CAUT PTG community has been the addition of the Higher Logic web-based CAUT community, and the announcement over a year ago of the eventual cessation of the CAUT list. Due to ongoing challenges with Higher Logic and the need for continued use of the old lists, the PTG board has decided to keep the old CAUT list-serve alive, for now, as many members have not migrated to the new online community. Old list-serve archives are not so easily accessed, as the old server is on only emergency maintenance. However, the same changes have made an outstanding set of resources available, with abilities to create archives and libraries easily, to create new specialized online communities,  and to build “micro-sites” such as the new CAUT Microsite. Check out the Newsletter archive, and many more resources being uploaded almost daily by the CAUT team! (Again see Fred Sturm’s website article.)

The Present:

In previous years seven to eight members had served on the CAUT Committee.  Recently the board appointed a smaller team of only four.  

The Future of CAUT in PTG:

To meet the present PTG board charges we are looking forward to returning to a larger committee.  The The CAUT Committee charges are:

CAUT Committee Charges for 2011-2012:

“There shall be a College and University Technicians Committee whose principal duty shall be to promote the particular interests of college and university technicians. This committee shall maintain an updated list of college and university technicians. Additional activities may include a regular newsletter, educational opportunities, and/or other special projects.”

  • Propose classes for College and University Technicians at the PTG Institute and encourage continuing education. Submit plan and budget to Institute Director by August 15.
  • Suggest creative ways to market RPT and CAUT-specific services to institutions and non-member technicians.
  • Produce newsletters to post on the CAUT website in November and April.
  • Report on progress to PTG Council and quarterly to the Board.

The CAUT Committee has developed a website that will facilitate its work.  On this website regular newsletters, educational opportunities, and/or other special projects will appear and be regularly updated to promote the particular interests of college and university technicians.  These interests will include public and technician libraries, newsletter archives, available CAUT positions, and discussion forums. 

We continue to refine and develop a more complete list  of all college and university technicians, both PTG members and  non-members.  We are exploring creative ways to market RPT and CAUT services to institutions,  reaching out to faculty and administration.   We continue to work with the PTG Institute to develop classes  that will encourage our members’ continuing education.