AFT Vice President
Fred Kowal, a professor of political science and Native American Studies at the State University of New York at Cobleskill since 1985, was elected president of the United University Professions/SUNY in May 2013. UUP is the nation’s largest public higher education union representing more than 35,000 academic and professional faculty on SUNY’s 29 state-operated campuses.
Kowal has been a UUP activist for 20 years on both local and statewide levels. He served as UUP chapter president at SUNY Cobleskill from 1993 to 2003 and again from 2011 until his election as statewide president. He has also been active in UUP’s legislative advocacy efforts, pressing for the union’s legislative and political action priorities, and he served on the state UUP executive board and negotiations team.
Kowal grew up in Chicopee, Mass., in a family that had strong roots in the union movement, as his father was a lifetime member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 7, and his uncles were dedicated members of the Teamsters. He graduated summa cum laude from Western New England College with a B.A. in economics, earned an M.A. in economic history from American University, and received a Ph.D. in political science from SUNY University at Albany. Prior to entering academia, he served as a research intern for the Senate Labor and Human Resources Minority Staff under the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and worked with developmentally challenged adults as a volunteer in Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation.