AAUP Executive Director leaves after 17 years

Amanda Garrett

Kathryn Makra, left, will step in and take the position of executive director of AAUP. Former executive director Sue Averill has been with the AAUP for 17 years. Averill stepped down Monday and is taking a job with Cleveland State University as assistant

Credit: Steve Schirra

When Sue Averill leaves the offices of the American Association of University Professors, her official Cleveland Indians baseball is coming with her.

However, Kathryn Makra, her replacement as executive director, plans to keep the team spirit alive and well.

“I bleed Indians’ red,” Makra said. “People have told me I’m able to quote statistics like a man, which is a compliment, I guess.”

On Monday, Makra will take over Averill’s old position as executive director of the AAUP. The executive director is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the union, including filing grievances and overseeing arbitration.

Averill is leaving the AAUP after 17 years to become assistant legal counsel at Cleveland State University. Her new position will give her an opportunity to look at the law differently, Averill said.

“The new job will allow me to see university legal issues from the other side,” she said. “I will be able to have the same role in collective bargaining, but from the other side. Also, 17 years is a long time in any job.”

Before coming to the AAUP, Averill had several different jobs. After graduating from Ohio State University with a master’s degree in French language and cinema, Averill took a teaching job in China.

“I loved China and the Chinese people,” she said. “I only planned to spend one year, but I ended up staying five.”

Shortly after moving back to Northeast Ohio to be near her family, Averill was hired by Joe Diestel, who was AAUP president at the time.

“I’m really grateful to Joe for giving me an opportunity to work for the AAUP,” she said. “I had never done that type of work before. He really took a chance with me.”

Makra was the first choice to be the new executive director, Averill said.

“When we looked through the resumes, Kathryn’s floated to the top every time,” she said. “She’s a great choice, really great choice.”

Makra, who served as an assistant prosecutor in Indiana and Summit County, has tried more than 80 cases.

“I enjoyed trying cases in front of a jury,” she said. “It is very rewarding to see to it that people who violated the law get their just punishment.”

Makra said she decided to try a new job because she was tired of the politics involved in prosecuting.

“Being executive director will allow me to work on legal issues, but in a different way,” she said. “I have very big shoes to fill. Hopefully I’ll be able to do as good a job as Sue has and earn the trust and confidence of the faculty.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].