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History of the Society of Academic Urologists

The Society of Academic Urologists (SAU) was formed from the mutual incorporation of two entities, the Society of University Urologists (SUU) and the Society of University Chairman and Program Directors (SUCPD). This merger was voted on at the Spring meeting of the AUA in 2016, after multiple conversations over three years. Prior to the formation of the SAU, SUCPD was a C6 corporation. The main problem was that money could not be transferred from a C6 to a C3 entity. The SUU was a 501 C3 corporation with ties to the ACGME. Since both corporations were not affiliated, they were unable to undertake several mutually inclusive projects. Finally, given the regulations at that time they were not allowed to combine and collaborate.

More importantly, the leadership of both corporations was concerned that the SUU and SUCPD would not be on equal terms. Neither wanted to have one society appear ahead of the other. On the contrary, both societies had mutual interests during their years together. Their educational programs shared common themes, like surgical simulation, the EMR, work force issues, etc. The aim of the merger was to have a society for Program Directors (PD) where grants could be shared, money could be raised for a variety of educational endeavors and ideas could be discussed by stakeholders to advance the mission of residency programs throughout the country.

SUCPD and the SUU were two parallel corporations, each with its own leadership. The ideals and direction of the two entities were very similar and there existed a lot of cross-pollination. This created much anxiety with the ABU, AUA and the RRC. This was one of several reasons why the SAU was formed.

During an RRC meeting in 2016, a leadership group was assembled. This group consisted of the President, President-elect and immediate past President of each entity. This would provide equal representation from the SUU and SUCPD. Bylaws were drafted, a mission statement as well as primary objectives were discussed. Finally, a timeline and a slate of potential officers was agreed to.

There were multiple advantages to the formation of the SAU. The first was that the SAU would be an organization where the needs of all academic faculty would be met. Secondly, clearer communication with several entities, such as the AUA, ABU and RRC would be available. Regarding the urology match, the SUU and the AUA had a contract to administer the match but there was significant input from SUCPD about what was necessary for the programs to function well. With the formation of the SAU, there would be equal representation and a more productive line of communication between the ABU, RRC and the AUA on matters relating to urology programs and importantly the urology match.

The return on investment (ROI) for the membership is that the PD and Chairs would have one meeting to answer all questions that come up with programs. The SUU could not exist without financial support from SUCPD, so again the merger of both made good financial sense. At the 2016 meeting of the SUU/SUCPD, planning for the first meeting of the SAU was undertaken for the following year. This meeting would take place in Phoenix and allow monies to be raised through industry support, allowing access to all programs at a subsidized cost. This would be a valuable ROI for all.

Grant support from the SAU would exist for members. One of the early discussions was the formation of QI projects and the potential grants that could be awarded for the best of these projects. This would allow PD to discuss these topics and provide a forum for collegial interchange of ideas. Other topics that were considered in the preliminary discussion were how integration of programs at academic medical centers was taking place. The SAU would provide a forum whereby programs could learn and discuss their own experiences. Finally, compensation plans which differ significantly from one academic program to the next could also be discussed.

The next step to formation of the SAU was to have SUCPD become the SAU. The SUU would be a shell organization with no membership and the funds from the SUU would be depleted over 5 years. The funds could then be used for the educational mission of the SAU and the newly elected officers of the SAU can oversee the SUU. As the SUU was affiliated with the ACGME, the formation of the SAU would allow important interchange with the SUU. This was also important regarding the AUA, ABU and the RRC. The SAU and SUU would meet yearly based on the IRS rules and this was easily accomplished during the annual meeting.

In order to complete the paperwork for filing state and federal taxes, the Weiser group along with Dr. Thrasher and the leadership team worked for 3 years. The officers were deeply indebted to the Weiser Group for all their hard work in helping make a smooth transition. A new logo and website were created. The previous website was in need of updating as more members would migrate to the website for information. Several items, including job postings, would provide avenues for institutions to interact with each other. According to the new by-laws, the membership application consisted of a yearly fee that was institutionally based and everyone in the institution became a member. This fee structure remained the same as before.

New mission and vision statements were created and are outlined below:

Mission Statement — To provide academic urologists with a forum for the discussion, review and potential resolution of issues critical to all aspects of academic urology.

Vision Statement — The Society of Academic Urologists aspires to be the world’s leading organization for academic urologists.

These statements represent the breadth that the SAU would provide for academic urology.

At the meeting in 2016, several steps were accomplished by the voting members. First, the SUCPD would be changed to the SAU. Secondly, the SUU bylaws as well as the SAU bylaws were adopted. Finally, the yearly institutional fee was also voted upon. The yearly fee was for accounting purposes and would make this easier to maintain.

There was much discussion by the leadership group regarding the initial slate of officers as neither the SUU nor the SUCPD wanted greater representation in the newly formed SAU. Thus, the equitable decision was to elevate the officers from the two organizations onto the SAU slate. There were also other opportunities for people to be involved. Their involvement would be a time commitment and individuals would need to realize that a position in the SAU would involve doing work for the important aspects of the SAU. There would be a nominating committee that would oversee applications from individuals who showed interest in the SAU. This again was designed to broaden the involvement of the membership.

After discussion of the newly proposed slate of officers, this was voted upon by the members and the motion passed. Further discussions took place regarding the election of four members-at-large, as well as representatives to the ABU, AUA, ACS, RRC and a resident representative. This was voted on at the meeting and that evening the newly elected board of directors began to conduct the business portion of the SAU.

As is evident over the past several years, the SAU has functioned with the goal of fostering academic excellence within our field. It remains the premier institution for communication between various societies. Many needed changes were handled by the SAU in concert with the AUA regarding the recent Covid crisis and its impact on the match process. This is one of many collaborations with the SAU that maximizes the benefit to the academic members of the SAU. The history of the formation of the SAU demonstrates how transparency and collaboration can create a unique forum for the advancement of education of its members.