Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Diversity in Admissions

Inside Higher Ed
July 30th, 2014

Colleges receive widespread scrutiny for their ability (or lack thereof) to build diverse student bodies. A survey being released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling shows that colleges also struggle with diversity issues within admissions offices, where white males seem to lead a field that -- at the entry-level ranks -- is more diverse.
Among the figures from the survey:
  • About 70 percent of admissions counselors and assistant/associate directors of admissions are women, but they represent only 53 percent of directors of admission and only 40 percent of vice presidents/deans of admission or enrollment management.
  • Black admissions professionals make up 11 percent of counselors and assistant/associate directors but only 5 percent of vice presidents/deans.
  • Hispanic admissions professors decrease from 8 percent  of counselors and assistant/associate directors to only 2 percent of vice presidents and deans.
Other data in the survey of NACAC members suggest that it may be difficult for colleges to hold on to the minority talent they have -- either individually or in higher education as a whole.

Inconsistent Reviews

Inside Higher Ed
July 20th, 2014

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth owes $200,000 in damages to a professor of English who says she was denied a promotion based on her race and gender, a state equal opportunity board has ruled. That’s on top of the board-ordered back pay and promotion the university has already awarded Lulu Sun.
Several top administrators, including the chancellor, also must complete anti-discrimination training, along with the university’s human resources staff, according to the board.
The recent decision by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination upholds an earlier commission finding that there was probable cause the university denied Sun promotion to full professor in 2004 and 2005 based on her Taiwanese origin and the fact that she is female. She now holds the rank of full professor because of the board's ruling.

Adjuncts Welcome Congress's New Interest in Their Working Conditions

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 30th, 2014

Advocates for adjuncts who have long sought more data about their working conditions on campuses have gotten the attention of Congress.
Legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now pending before the Senate would require colleges to collect and report more information about their part-time instructors.
The bill (HR 4983), dubbed the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, would require colleges to publish data on a government-run website that would show the ratio of the number of courses taught by part-time instructors to those taught by full-time faculty members. Colleges would have to break down that information by courses largely intended for undergraduates and those largely designed for graduate students. Colleges would also be required to report the mean and median years those part-time instructors have been employed.
The bill was approved last week by the House, where it had bipartisan support. It’s unclear if, or when, the Senate might take it up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Supporting Veterans in the Classroom

Acadame
June 2014

In 2007–08, approximately 4 percent of all US college and university students were veterans or activeduty soldiers; since the drawdown began in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of student veterans has risen. Yet few statistics exist to show how veterans are doing in college. Larry Abramson reported on National Public Radio on December 5, 2012, that “there are no national statistics on veterans’ graduation rates.” While the United States is doing a better job in its treatment of veterans today than it did following the Vietnam War, severe problems persist. Veterans face long waits for disability payments and endure higher-than-average homelessness and suicide rates. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, recent efforts have reduced the overall unemployment rate among veterans to 7 percent, but veterans of post–September 11 conflicts have a 10.8 percent rate. Historically, the unemployment rate for combat veterans has been about three percentage points higher than the rate for all veterans.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group, noted that “one of the greatest challenges veterans report in finding a job is explaining how their military skills translate to the civilian workforce.” Veterans often attempt to bridge that gap by attending college; the US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 64.8 percent of all veterans take higher education classes. However, veterans often experience difficulties in college, too. Despite the competence they may have developed and demonstrated in the military, some veterans don’t know how to transfer their skills to new environments.

Social-Psychology Researchers Are Very Liberal. Is That a Problem?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 29th, 2014

During a 2011 talk at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Jonathan Haidt asked the roughly 1,000 researchers gathered how many considered themselves liberal. About 800 hands went up. Twenty identified as "moderate or centrist"; 12 fessed up to libertarianism. The number of self-described conservatives in the room: three.
Out of a thousand.
Now a forthcoming paper in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, written by Mr. Haidt and several co-authors, makes the case that ideological one-sidedness in social psychology is a genuine problem and offers suggestions for fixing it. The paper also singles out researchers that the authors believe are guilty of letting their leanings undermine the quality of their work.
The paper grew out of an essay by José Duarte that he posted on a social-psychology email list after Mr. Haidt’s impromptu survey of the field’s political loyalties. In the essay, Mr. Duarte, a graduate student at Arizona State University who is one of the new paper’s co-authors, offered the following principle: "If a research question requires that one assume that a particular ideology or value system is factually true, then that research question is invalid."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Study: Adjuncts at Risk for Anxiety, Depression

Inside Higher Ed
July 28th, 2014

A new study on the emotional lives of adjunct professors that appears to be the first of its kind says contingent faculty members are at risk for stress, depression and anxiety due to their working conditions. The paper, written by Gretchen M. Reevey, a lecturer in psychology at California State University at East Bay, and Grace Deason, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, was published in Frontiers of Psychology and is available in full here.

Education Dept. Identifies New Areas for Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 25th, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education issued new guidance on Thursday clarifying that it will recognize same-sex marriages for the purpose of providing in-state tuition to spouses of armed-service members, and determining eligibility for Parent PLUS loans and income-driven repayment of student loans.
The guidance was released in two “Dear Colleague” letters, one on the issue of in-state tuition and the other on PLUS loans and repayment. The letters are not the first to follow the Supreme Court’s 2013…
 

In Hard Times, Independent Research Institutes Give Up Freedom in Order to Survive

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 28th, 2014

A year ago, the faculty governing board of the 126-year-old Marine Biological Laboratory of Woods Hole, Mass., on the verge of the busy summer research season on Cape Cod, gathered for an emergency meeting with a terminal purpose: to vote itself out of existence.
The independent lab, reliant on diminishing federal research grants, had been in dire financial straits for years. To save itself, its leaders proposed surrendering its autonomy to the University of Chicago—adding some salt to Chicago’s freshwater veins, as one dean put it. When the time came to vote, the lab’s scientists stood up, almost as one, in favor; the tally was 158-2. Rarely has extinction been so inspirational.
"Change is scary. Usually academics tend to be cautious and conservative," said Jane Maienschein, a science historian at Arizona State University who watched the vote. These researchers were giving up their freedom, but they would survive. "They stood up quickly and proudly and said yes, we have to embrace change."

The Uncertain Future of Academic Work

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 28th, 2014


Professors, administrators, and professional staff members can probably agree on one thing when it comes to the academic workplace—the times, they keep a-changin’.
Over the next several years, at least, new technologies are expected to drastically reshape the way professors teach, and when and where people on college campuses do their work. As lawmakers, parents, and students continue to question whether a college degree is worth it, and as higher education struggles to reinvent itself, professors are sure to face more scrutiny about their workloads. Those trends have set the stage for internal battles over administrators’ renewed attempts to measure faculty productivity.
Dedicated office space on campus may not always be a given in the workplace of the future, even for some tenured and tenure-track professors. But more colleges are expected to create family-friendly workplaces, as the next generation of faculty members signals how much it values work-life balance. That is increasingly true for both male and female academics.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Great Colleges To Work For 2014

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 2014

The Chronicle's seventh annual survey recognized 92 outstanding colleges nationwide. View the full list to find out which colleges made the cut.

Pre-Tenure and Publishing

Inside Higher Ed
July 25th, 2014

Early-stage researchers in South Korea are “significantly” more productive than those further on in their careers, a study has found, partly because the former are striving to gain tenured positions.
hose with up to 10 years’ experience in “hard” subjects such as science, engineering and medicine published an average of eight articles every three years in international journals, but this fell to less than seven when they reached the “established” career stage (11-25 years’ experience).
A drop in publication rates was also seen in “soft” subjects, including humanities, social science and business, when academics became “established,” according to the paper, “Research Productivity by Career Stage Among Korean Academics.”
These data contradict previous studies that found the reverse – that more experienced researchers out-publish more junior colleagues – notes the paper by Jisun Jung, a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. She cites studies that suggest “most academics feel that promotion and tenure are more strongly dependent upon research output, and that the quantity of publications is more important than the quality.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Around Retail Giant Amazon, University Presses Tiptoe and Whisper

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 24th, 2014

Customers adore Amazon for its ability to deliver almost anything almost instantly. Publishers’ feelings about the online retail giant are a lot more complicated.
They love how it can boost book sales. They are less enamored of the negotiating power its size and reach give it. The New York Times summed up the dilemma in a July headline: "Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed." It accompanied an article, one of many in recent weeks, about the standoff between Amazon and a major commercial publisher, Hachette, reportedly over e-book pricing and other issues.
Compared with trade publishers like Hachette, most university presses are small fry in the very large sea that Amazon trawls. For the presses, however, Amazon plays "an enormous role," says Rebekah Darksmith, deputy director of the University of California Press. "Amazon and its technology are ubiquitous at this point."

Anti-Union Vote in Minn. Is Rare Setback in National Campaign for Adjunct Unions

The Chronicle of Higher Ed
July 24th, 2014

The Service Employees International Union is accustomed to winning—persuading adjunct faculty members to unionize on campuses around the country.
But this week, the SEIU suffered a rare setback when adjuncts at the University of Saint Thomas, in St. Paul, voted against forming a union.
The union movement is still growing in Minnesota, though, as it is across the country, SEIU officials said. They characterized the defeat at Saint Thomas as stemming from a unique situation in which many adjuncts wanted to try to work with the university’s leadership before forming a union to negotiate.
"It’s disappointing, but we’re all incredibly proud of the gains that we’re getting," said Denise Welte, organizing director at SEIU Local 284. "It brings to light what adjuncts face every day in their day-to-day life. We’ll continue to fight."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not So Fast

Inside Higher Ed
July 23rd, 2014


The Service Employee International Union’s adjunct organizing drive seemed for a time to be on cruise control, with “yes” votes for unions at more than a dozen campuses from Washington to Los Angeles since 2012. SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign did hit a speed bump at one institution outside Boston – Bentley University – but the union defeat there last year was by a narrow margin, and many onlookers chalked it up to Bentley’s unique business focus. The campaign quickly returned to speed in that city, with successful union drives at Lesley and Northeastern Universities (in addition to Tufts University), and others across the country.
Then the campaign hit the Twin Cities. Adjuncts at Hamline University in June overwhelmingly voted to form a union, but elsewhere there have been two major roadblocks: a canceled vote at St. Paul's Macalester College last month amid calls by many adjuncts to slow down, and a decisive defeat just this week at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis.
Accounts from adjunct professors on both sides of the vote at both institutions detail persuasive outreach from the colleges’ administrations – neither of which formally challenged their adjuncts’ legal right to form a union – and a failure on the part of SEIU to quickly convince adjuncts that unionization was their best chance at gaining better working conditions.

5 Academics Are Awarded 2013 National Humanities Medals

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 23rd, 2014

President Obama on Tuesday announced the 10 winners of the 2013 National Humanities Medals, which recognize individuals or groups whose work has “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Driven Out for Speaking Up?

Inside Higher Ed
July 22nd, 2014

Lisa Guinn was one of the lucky ones. The historian was offered a tenure-track job at one institution in 2008 after a one-year stint there as a temporary professor. Two years later, she got lucky again – or so she thought – when she and her husband, also a historian, were both offered tenure-track jobs at Upper Iowa University. Knowing how rare dual assistant professorships are in history, they took the jobs. They believed in the university’s liberal arts mission and were looking forward to reviving its history major, which they did in 2012.
Now, despite strong faculty reviews, both Guinn and her husband, Thomas Jorsch, are out at Upper Iowa, and they still haven’t been told why. Jorsch was able to find a tenure-track position at Bethany College, in Kansas, but Guinn will be working there as an adjunct. The irony is biting.
So what happened?
Guinn and other faculty members say shared governance and academic freedom at Upper Iowa have eroded over time, and their vocal opposition to proposed curricular changes put targets on their backs, as well as those of several other untenured professors.

Bill Gates Talks Performance Funding and MOOCs in Conference Keynote

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

Bill Gates, a founder of Microsoft and billionaire philanthropist, touched on a myriad of issues facing higher-education institutions during his keynote address on Monday at the annual conference, in Seattle, of the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Here are some of the highlights:
On access: “The United States really stands for the proposition of equal opportunity. We’re striving in our work [at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] to have the U.S. maintain and strengthen that, where access to great education is the key element. When we ask about the strength of our country in the decades to come, renewing this strength, helping it stay on top is one of the most important things that we need to do.”

Adjuncts Vote Down Union at Minnesota’s U. of Saint Thomas

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 22nd, 2014

A campaign to unionize adjunct instructors at private colleges in Minnesota hit a snag on Monday, as the part-time faculty members at the University of Saint Thomas voted against forming a union, according to the Star Tribune.
The campaign, run by an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, won a victory last month, when part-time professors at Hamline University, another campus in the Twin Cities area, voted to unionize. The effort is part of a nationwide campaign by the union.

A Sociologist Asks What Happens When Art Goes Academic

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 22nd, 2014

Several dozen students and professors gather around an artist and his latest creation. The sculpture: "Into the Abyss," a six-foot wooden maze that resembles a digestive tract. The artist: David Bodhi Boylan, an M.F.A. student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Mr. Boylan listens, chin in hand, as the crowd plunges into a 45-minute critique of his "Abyss."
"I’d like to hear you speak a little bit more about this notion of expectations," says one person.
"The question of the front and backness of the work—I want it to be more complex."
"If we’re going to stay in binary mode … a more productive space to look at it is interior versus exterior and how that relates to utility versus aesthetics or judgment."

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Course, Your Content

Inside Higher Ed
July 21st, 2014

Another professor’s learning materials? In my course? It’s more likely than you think.
The nonprofit research organization Ithaka S+R this month released its highly anticipated report on its work with the institutions in the University System of Maryland, which for the past 18 months have experimented with courseware from Carnegie Mellon University, Coursera and Pearson in face-to-face courses. Backed by a $1.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study aimed to produce some sorely needed research about massive open online courses and their usefulness to brick-and-mortar institutions.
Eighteen months later, the MOOC frenzy has calmed, and Ithaka’s findings are similarly muted.
“Our findings add empirical weight to an emerging consensus that technology can be used to enhance productivity in higher education by reducing costs without compromising student outcomes,” researchers Rebecca Griffiths, Matthew Chingos, Christine Mulhern and Richard Spies write.

Outsourced in Michigan

Inside Higher Ed
July 21st, 2014

Colleges and universities have outsourced lots of services in the past several decades, from food preparation and delivery to bookstores to sanitation. But to many academics it is taboo to even consider outsourcing the faculty.
Not in Michigan. In recent years, a handful of community colleges in that state have outsourced the recruitment and hiring of adjunct instructors – who make up the overwhelming majority of the community college teaching force – to an educational staffing company. Just last week, the faculty union at a sixth institution, Jackson College, signed a collective bargaining agreement allowing EDUStaff to take over adjunct hiring and payroll duties.

Great Colleges Create a Culture of Accountability and Cooperation

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

Issues related to workplace quality, faculty and staff engagement, and institutional culture can be found daily in the headlines, including stories of leadership transition and votes of no confidence, concerns regarding "civility" (or worse, cases of bullying and sexual harassment), and debates over the continuing challenges of diversity initiatives.
There’s no shortage of examples of how workplace quality and climate have evolved beyond simply having "happy" faculty and staff members, and there seems to be a growing awareness of the strategic importance of employee engagement and organizational culture. One measure of that awareness is the participation level in the annual Great Colleges to Work For survey, administered by ModernThink LLC for The Chronicle. (All survey-related content in this issue, including college presidents’ statements about what makes their institutions great places to work, was compiled by ModernThink.)

Court Orders Iowa State U. to Pay Former Employee $650,000

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered Iowa State University to pay a former employee $650,000 for being mistreated by his superiors, the Associated Press reports. After Dennis Smith, who was a marketing employee in the College of Engineering, reported alleged mismanagement by his boss, she “engaged in unremitting psychological warfare” against Mr. Smith, the court said.

The Difference a Boss Makes

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

In the perhaps naïve belief that no one at my institution reads my columns (go on, prove me wrong), I have decided to spend some time reflecting on my current state of uncertainty as a middle manager who doesn’t know who her next boss will be.
Waiting out the search for your new boss is unnerving. Because when you’re a dean, your boss makes a big difference in how you do your job—and, sometimes, in how well you do your job. Tenure-line faculty members don’t have bosses. Administrators really, really do.
In an academic department, your boss is your department chair—and that might someday be you. Department chairs are drafted or elected or take their turns in rotation, and they usually slide back into their normal roles as department members after. Knowing that someone down the hall will be your next boss serves a real function in keeping most of us honest as department chairs. The colleague you offend today could be your chair in a few years.

Friday, July 18, 2014

ACE Studies on Faculty Roles and Business Models

Inside Higher Ed
July 17th, 2014

The American Council on Education on Wednesday released two reports from its Presidential Innovation Lab. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded lab asks more than a dozen chief executives to think about how technological, pedagogical, organizational and structural innovations can close the student achievement gap.
The first paper, called "Unbundling Versus Designing Faculty Roles," traces the evolving role of the faculty, from mainly tutors in the 18 and 19th centuries, to the increasingly professionalized faculty of the early and mid-20th century, to contemporary professors, for whom teaching, research, service and others duties increasingly are “unbundled” or disaggregated. The paper argues that this unbundling is particularly acute in large introductory courses, where instructors mainly teach rather than design courses, and in massive, open, online courses, or MOOCs. At the same time, the paper says, unbundling is occurring in myriad ways, and “there is no single model.”
A common concern related to such unbundling, the paper says, is the potential for the decline of the “complete scholar,” whose research, teaching and service combine to positively impact students. But, the paper notes, community college teachers understandably may focus more on teaching than research. The paper also says that technology can help integrate teaching and research by making teaching more inquiry-driven, and by making teaching a kind of research process through student data analytics. The paper concludes that unbundling of professor duties is not necessarily bad for students, but that it requires further study. Colleges and universities may do well to study unbundling within their institutions and more intentionally assign faculty roles based on their evolving duties, as some institutions have done. But those conversations also should happen at the national level, the paper says.

‘Pay It Forward’ Plans Are No Cure for Rising College Costs, Report Says

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 18th, 2014

A new report refutes the proposed “Pay It Forward” model of paying for college, saying in a point-by-point analysis that it would leave most graduates deeper in debt than if they had taken out loans, and would throw colleges’ balance sheets into uncertainty, among other things.
The report, released by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, assails the idea of allowing students to attend college without having to take out loans while requiring them to devote a portion of their later earnings to paying off tuition. First proposed by students at Portland State University, Pay It Forward has drawn increasing criticism since Oregon passed a law to study the idea.

New Politics of Partner Benefits

Inside Higher Ed
July 18th, 2014

Now that gay marriage is recognized in their state, faculty members and other employees within the University of Minnesota system with same-sex partners no longer need access to domestic partner benefits. Right?
The university has a clear answer to the question: Right – and it’s canceling same-sex domestic partner benefits at the end of this year. But some say it may be acting too quickly in eliminating those benefits, and failing to give enough thought to how the policy change will impact diverse families.
As many states have recognized gay marriage in the last year, and as states without gay marriage have started to see court rulings that could change the law there as well, public colleges and universities have been considering a range of questions. Because many public colleges moved to offer partner benefits years before their states recognized gay relationships, some -- in places like Minnesota -- wonder if they need to keep those benefits. And in other parts of the country, including states where any benefits for same-sex partners were decidedly off the table until recently, that is changing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blaming the Victim: Ladder Faculty and the Lack of Adjunct Activism

The Chronicle of Higher Education - Vitae
July 17th, 2014



In April 2013, I attended Adjunct Action’s first symposium in Boston, where the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was kicking off its efforts to organize adjuncts at area universities. In a little over a year since that meeting, I’ve watched from the sidelines as fellow attendees—part-time faculty at Tufts, Lesley, and, most recently, Northeastern University—have voted yes to unionization. And I’ve seen the SEIU’s metro-organizing strategy spread to cities across the country.
As a full-time adjunct professor, I am not currently eligible to vote in a union election. The adjunct labor movement has necessarily prioritized the working conditions of part-time faculty, many of whom are living below the poverty line. But adjuncts need not be card-carrying union members to benefit from these victories, which have transformed academia’s once-invisible underclass into its most vocal majority. The inequalities in academic employment may still be firmly in place, but thanks to these unionization efforts, contingent faculty are now active participants in the national conversation about the future of higher education. 


In April 2013, I attended Adjunct Action’s first symposium in Boston, where the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was kicking off its efforts to organize adjuncts at area universities. In a little over a year since that meeting, I’ve watched from the sidelines as fellow attendees—part-time faculty at Tufts, Lesley, and, most recently, Northeastern University—have voted yes to unionization. And I’ve seen the SEIU’s metro-organizing strategy spread to cities across the country.
As a full-time adjunct professor, I am not currently eligible to vote in a union election. The adjunct labor movement has necessarily prioritized the working conditions of part-time faculty, many of whom are living below the poverty line. But adjuncts need not be card-carrying union members to benefit from these victories, which have transformed academia’s once-invisible underclass into its most vocal majority. The inequalities in academic employment may still be firmly in place, but thanks to these unionization efforts, contingent faculty are now active participants in the national conversation about the future of higher education.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/613-blaming-the-victim-ladder-faculty-and-the-lack-of-adjunct-activism#sthash.1x94A2LZ.dpuf

I Just Used to Work Here

Inside Higher Ed
July 17th, 2014

Recently, an assistant dean at a university at which I’ve taught sent me an email. A former student of mine had reached out to this deanlet because the student — whom I'll call Jill — “received an F in [my] course and she and her father [had] asked for clarity.” A few days later, a department secretary from another university I’ve worked at sent me an email that said that a former student of mine had called her “regarding the grade of an ‘F’ received” in my class. According to the secretary, the student — whom I’ll call Jack — “said that he should’ve received a ‘B,’ ” and asked her to ask me to give him a call on his cell phone. As an adjunct, these students’ problems shouldn’t be my problems, yet somehow they are.
I used the past tense of the words “teach” and “work” above to describe my relationship with these universities because I no longer teach for or work at either of these colleges and haven’t since May, nor is there any guarantee that I will work for them in the future. I am, after all, only an adjunct. I am, by definition, “something added to another thing but not essential to it.” I understand that, and I thought the university administrators who have long thought it best to add cadres of nonessential folk such as myself to fulfill the university mission of education instead of hiring full-time faculty understood this as well.

What It Takes to Help Students Succeed

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 17th, 2014

President of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County since 1992, Freeman A. Hrabowski III thinks he knows what students need: lots of support. Morally, colleges owe it to students to do everything possible to help them succeed, he said in a recent visit to The Chronicle, and a higher retention rate means more tuition dollars, too.

U. of Iowa Scholar Will Get New Trial in Promotion-Bias Case

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 15th, 2014

A federal appeals court has granted a new trial to a University of Iowa scholar who accused the institution of discriminating against her because of her conservative views, The Des Moines Register reported.
The scholar, Teresa R. Wagner, had asserted in a lawsuit that a former dean of Iowa’s law school refused to promote her because of her political beliefs and her work with conservative groups. In 2012 a jury found that Ms. Wagner’s First Amendment rights had not been violated, but deadlocked on a second claim that she had been denied equal-protection rights under the 14th Amendment.
A judge later dismissed the equal-protection claim and rejected Ms. Wagner’s bid for a new trial.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

UNC-Wilmington Settles With Professor Who Won Anti-Bias Suit

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 16th, 2014

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has completed the terms of a settlement with a professor who sued the institution, and won, over being denied a promotion because of his conservative writings, reports the Star-News, a Wilmington newspaper.
Michael S. Adams, a criminology professor, will be promoted to full professor, awarded $50,000 in back pay, and given a salary of $75,000 per year. The university will also pay $615,000 in lawyers’ fees.

Adjuncts Urge Labor Dept. Inquiry Into Working Condition

Inside Higher Ed
July 16th, 2014

More than 500 adjunct professors and their advocates have signed a petition calling for the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate their working conditions. The petition's authors, all current or former adjuncts at various colleges and universities, allege that they are being paid for only part of the work they do, and that that amounts to wage theft. The petition is addressed to David Weil, director of the agency's Wage and Hour Division, and urges him to "open an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty, including adjunct instructors and full-time contract faculty outside the tenure track." The investigation should be conducted at the "sector" level, they say, rather than individually.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Question of Quality

Inside Higher Ed
July 15th, 2014

If students in a face-to-face course emailed their provost with concerns that their professor had stopped lecturing, chances are that someone -- a department head or an administrator -- would intervene. But what if the students were scattered across different countries and time zones in a not-for-credit massive open online course?
The issue of MOOC quality control has resurfaced in the wake of the #MassiveTeaching debacle, the MOOC-turned-social experiment that last week inspired a scavenger hunt across the internet.
By Tuesday afternoon, one observant Inside Higher Ed commenter had cracked the case. After a successful first week of “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” Paul-Olivier Dehaye, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Zurich, deleted the course content as part of a social experiment to show students how their data can be manipulated online. But since Dehaye had not notified anyone of his intentions, the experiment raised confusion rather than awareness.

Moody’s Issues Negative Outlook for Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 14th, 2014

On the heels of a similarly downcast assessment by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service has issued a negative outlook for the higher-education sector in the United States. The credit-rating agency also issued individual reports on median benchmarks for the finances of public and nonprofit private colleges, noting significant tuition-revenue declines at both types of institutions.
While American higher education faces limited growth prospects over the next 12 to 18 months, Moody’s says, positive trends like strong long-term demand for higher education and reduced household debt could help create conditions for colleges to stabilize over the next year. But Moody’s cautions that the institutions will face continued financial pressures in the near term.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Benefits Options for Adjuncts

Inside Higher Ed
July 14th, 2014

Many adjuncts not only work for low pay, but do so without employer-provided health insurance. So the American Federations of Teachers’ announcement on Friday that it was partnering with the Freelancers Union to offer adjuncts – even those who aren’t part of AFT – access to benefits came as good news to many. The AFT is not paying for benefits, but rather is offering adjuncts access to various plans that might be difficult or more expensive to obtain individually.
Earlier this year, the Freelancers Union announced the launch of a National Benefits Platform, through which independent workers can search by ZIP code a “suite” of various benefits. Offerings include health and dental insurance and retirement and term life insurance. The new AFT partnership will offer adjuncts a special web portal to access these and other programs and services offered by both unions, starting this fall.
The Freelancers’ membership already includes about 3,000 educators, most of whom are adjuncts. The union offers legal representation and other services to its members -- about 250,000 nationwide. About 10 percent currently purchase their insurance directly from the union, in New York State only. This fall, Freelancers will start offering members ways to purchase insurance in 49 other states through various third-party providers.

AFT Reaffirms Commitment to Fighting Exploitation of Adjuncts

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 14th, 2014

During its convention over the weekend in Los Angeles, the American Federation of Teachers reaffirmed its commitment to fighting to end academe’s reliance on contingent instructors and to replace that model “with a system of academic staffing that is sustainable for students, faculty, and the economy.”
A resolution unanimously approved by AFT delegates states the organization is committed to “improving the lives of contingent faculty by ending the rank exploitation of the majority of the higher-education instructional work force.” That exploitation, it says, is undermining the educational and civic missions of colleges and universities, and is negatively affecting the quality of the college experience for students.

College, on Your Own

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 14th, 2014

Nichele L. Pollock felt like she was moving through college in slow motion. In seven years, she had gotten about halfway through her bachelor’s degree.
But recently she’s been racing forward, racking up 50 credits in just eight months at Northern Arizona University, more than most full-time students earn in three semesters. She’s done it while holding down a full-time job coordinating clinical trials at a medical-research facility in Tucson. She has no classmates, no classroom, no lectures, and no professor-led discussions with fellow students.
And she’s the model for how competency-based learning could transform higher education.
For decades, competency programs have served a niche market of adults seeking credentials to help them advance in their careers. Now, they are attracting broad interest and making forays into the liberal arts. Competency programs are going mainstream.

Friday, July 11, 2014

AFT Makes New Effort to Offer Benefits to Contingent Faculty Members

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 11th, 2014

The American Federation of Teachers announced on Friday that it was teaming up with a nonprofit organization for independent workers to provide colleges’ contingent faculty members with access to health insurance and other benefits.
Benefits offered by the new partnership—between the AFT and the Freelancers Union, which serves a wide range of independent workers—will be open to all contingent faculty members at American colleges, whether or not they belong to the AFT. The deal will enable them to tap into a web portal with access to both AFT and Freelancers Union programs and services, including health, dental, liability, disability, and life insurance offered by the Freelancers Union through a benefits platform established last month.
"This partnership provides access to much-needed benefits contingent faculty wouldn’t otherwise have, as well as access to information, resources, and supports to improve their lives and professions," Randi Weingarten, the AFT’s president, said on Friday in a written statement announcing the new collaboration. Contingent faculty members will have access to the new web portal beginning this fall.

How the U. of Texas Flagship’s Chief Built the Power Base That Saved His Neck

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 11th, 2014

William C. Powers Jr.’s fortunes as president of the University of Texas at Austin seemed to shift quickly this week, when the system’s chancellor announced that the imperiled leader would be granted another 11 months at the helm of the flagship campus. But the Lazarus act, which allows Mr. Powers to leave office on his own terms, was actually years in the making.
The president will resign, effective June 2, 2015. That will allow for the sort of "graceful" exit that he had sought last week, when Francisco G. Cigarroa, the system’s chancellor, gave the president an ultimatum: resign by July 4, effective October 31, or be fired. The agreement this week put a fittingly messy coda on a years-long power struggle between an aggressive cadre of board members who wanted the president out and a steely campus chief with powerful connections.

Falling Short

Inside Higher Ed
July 11th, 2014

Summer means lean times – leaner than usual – for many adjuncts, as fewer courses offered means fewer available sections. So adjuncts at Northern New Mexico College who say they were shorted by a third on their last two paychecks say they’re not only angry but have been thrown into an unexpected financial bind.
Adjuncts also say it’s symptomatic of larger, ongoing problems between the college’s faculty and administration.
“No one would have signed a contract if they’d known – it takes an hour for most of us to commute there,” said Miranda Merklein, a former adjunct instructor of English at Northern New Mexico who has stopped teaching there due to the shorted paychecks. “There are adjuncts taking out payday loans and barely surviving.”

Union Ends Ties With UNCF, Faulting Its Connection With Koch Brothers

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 11th, 2014

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has ended a joint scholarship program with the United Negro College Fund, citing disapproval of a $25-million donation the fund accepted from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation. Lee Saunders, president of the union, called the organization’s relationship with the activist-conservative Koch brothers “a betrayal of everything the UNCF stands for.”
Michael Lomax, president and chief executive of the UNCF, defended the donation in a statement: “UNCF has over 100,000 donors with a wide range of views, but they all have one thing in common: They believe in helping young students of color realize their dreams of a college education.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Giving Up (Some) Control in the Classroom

Inside Higher Ed
July 10th, 2014

This past spring semester I decided to shake things up a bit in one of my courses by tossing some of my routine (and control over the course), right out of the window. I have always advocated for student responsibility in my classroom — I don’t micromanage them, I don’t take attendance (no, I’ve never had a problem with low attendance in my classes), and I try to build assignments with enough flexibility to allow students to explore their interests. However, this past semester, I did two things in my Sex, Gender, and Society course which involved giving up a significant amount of control in some crucial areas of the course.


Texas Showdown Is Averted, With President to Stay On for a Year

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 10th, 2014

The searing spotlight that has been shining on the University of Texas cooled slightly on Wednesday, when the system’s chancellor, in a surprising about-face, announced that he would allow the flagship’s president, William C. Powers Jr., to stay on another year.
The move pre-empted what had promised to be a bitterly divisive meeting of the system’s Board of Regents on Thursday, when the board had been expected to fire Mr. Powers.
Faculty members who had gathered in a special meeting on Wednesday to protest the president’s apparently imminent ouster gasped and cheered when they learned that the chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, had backed down, agreeing to let the president leave on his own terms, at the end of the next academic year.

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Unionize at U. Illinois

Inside Higher Ed
July 10th, 2014

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has certified a union for nearly 500 non-tenure track faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The organizing drive was by the Campus Faculty Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.

Can MOOCs Help Professors Teach Traditional Courses More Efficiently?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 10th, 2014

Using free online materials such as massive open online courses in traditional classes can help colleges teach more efficiently without harming students, according to a long-awaited report from Ithaka S+R, an education-technology nonprofit group, and the University System of Maryland.
However, the report notes practical barriers that might make it difficult for professors to incorporate MOOCs or similar materials into their classes without incurring other costs. Those costs might limit any gains in efficiency, according to university officials.
In their study, researchers closely tracked 17 courses at universities across the Maryland system that incorporated “interactive online learning platforms” into existing courses, including 14 that used MOOCs from Coursera. (Some courses used online software from the Open Learning Initiative and Pearson.)

U.S. House Passes Job-Training Bill

Inside Higher Ed
July 10th, 2014

A key federal job-training bill has been updated for the first time in more than a decade. The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which governs more than $3 billion in programs, many of them aimed at community colleges. The bill, which the U.S. Senate passed last month, has drawn praise from higher education leaders. It should eliminate red tape and redundancy, they said, while also creating standardized performance metrics and emphasizing better links between K-12, higher education and employers. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation, which has been hailed as a rare bipartisan compromise.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Facebook Organizing: Legal Do’s and Don’ts

Labor Notes
July 9th, 2014



Workers are using Facebook to talk to each other about what happens on the job and in the union, and some are even using it to organize for change.
Walmart workers trade advice and stories on the “Organization United for Respect” page, which has 47,000 “likes.” Boeing Machinists opposed to a proposed contract linked up through “Rosie’s Machinists 751.” And many union reformers set up Facebook pages when they are running for office.
Those are the success stories. But if you read the tabloids, you’ve probably seen some horror stories, too: teachers fired for Facebook posts that criticize their students, restaurant workers fired for posts that insult low-tipping customers.
Here we’ll examine the do’s and don’ts by looking at two cases where posts were legally protected—and one where they weren’t. 


Workers are using Facebook to talk to each other about what happens on the job and in the union, and some are even using it to organize for change.
Walmart workers trade advice and stories on the “Organization United for Respect” page, which has 47,000 “likes.” Boeing Machinists opposed to a proposed contract linked up through “Rosie’s Machinists 751.” And many union reformers set up Facebook pages when they are running for office.
Those are the success stories. But if you read the tabloids, you’ve probably seen some horror stories, too: teachers fired for Facebook posts that criticize their students, restaurant workers fired for posts that insult low-tipping customers.
Here we’ll examine the do’s and don’ts by looking at two cases where posts were legally protected—and one where they weren’t.
- See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2014/07/facebook-organizing-legal-dos-and-donts#sthash.zwxBfHlX.dpuf