Friday, January 30, 2015

U. of Wisconsin Leader Defends Faculty from Governor

Inside Higher Ed
January 30th, 2015

The head of the University of Wisconsin System defended faculty from state Governor Scott Walker's suggestion that professors should teach more classes to save money as part of a Walker-backed $300 million budget cut.
Faculty are like state lawmakers, system President Ray Cross said in a radio interview, "if all we think they do is what we see them do when both chambers are in session. They only work a few months at best a year. That's not any different than faculty. Faculty on average are working 50 to 60 hours a week."

Going After the Donors

Inside Higher Ed
January 30th, 2015

No one following the Steven Salaita case was surprised Thursday when the displaced scholar announced he’s suing top administrators of the University of Illinois System and its Urbana-Champaign campus. Salaita had been trying for months to force the university to give him back the tenured professorship in the American Indian studies program he says is his. The institution, meanwhile, has continued to stand behind its decision to rescind the appointment -- which it argues wasn’t yet final -- due to the tenor of Salaita’s anti-Israel tweets.
But the seemingly inevitable lawsuit, filed in a U.S. district court in Illinois, contained a twist: Salaita is also suing the John Doe donors he says illegally interfered in his contractual agreement with the university. Legal experts call the move creative, if not realistic, and relatively rare among higher education claims.

Wisconsin Governor Stirs a Debate Over What Professors Actually Do

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 30th, 2015

Just what do university professors do all day?
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has been hearing plenty on that topic since he remarked this week, during a discussion of his proposal to cut state appropriations for the University of Wisconsin system by $300-million over two years, that the universities “might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class a semester.
The governor’s comment, writes the Journal Sentinel, a newspaper in Milwaukee, bares “one of the most enduring sources of friction” in American higher education: What is the primary function of the faculty? On one side of the question are critics of universities who see it as working with students in the classroom. On the other are defenders of advancing knowledge through research, and sharing it in ways that go beyond the classroom.
The question is part of a larger public debate that goes back to at least 1967, when another Republican governor, Ronald Reagan of California, asserted that taxpayers should not be “subsidizing intellectual curiosity.” (See an article in The Chronicle, “The Day the Purpose of College Changed.”)

Salaita Goes After University Donors in Lawsuit Over Job Loss at Illinois

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 30th, 2015

Steven G. Salaita’s widely anticipated lawsuit over the University of Illinois’s decision to deny him a tenured professorship takes the innovative step of also demanding damages from university donors who pressured its leaders not to hire him.
Along with its expected targets—top campus and university-system administrators, and nearly all of the system’s trustees—Mr. Salaita’s federal lawsuit names as defendants several as-yet-unidentified donors who threatened to withhold money from the university if it made good on its job offer to him.
The donors, and many others, had opposed the university’s plans to hire Mr. Salaita as a professor on its Urbana-Champaign campus because they objected to his inflammatory criticisms of Israel and argued that his statements were anti-Semitic. His lawsuit is in response to the university’s September decision to rescind its job offer to him.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Michael Berube chairs the AAUP investigation

The Free Press
January 27th, 2015

Last week, a team was sent to USM by the American Association of University Professors to investigate claims against USM’s execution of academic freedom and shared governance.
Chairing the investigative committee was Michael Berube, director of the institute for arts and humanities at Pennsylvania State University.
According to Berube, hundreds of requests for intervention come before the AAUP every year, regarding what he described as “shady practices in American higher education.” From those, only a handful are selected.
“The investigative process is very labor intensive,” said Berube. “We try to take the ones that we think are the most important for the future of higher education.”
USM fell into that category.

Academics vs. ‘Ballghazi,’ Round 2

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 29th, 2015



News outlets are no longer the only ones asking academics about the science of deflated footballs. Investigators for the National Football League have approached physics professors at Columbia University to help them understand how footballs supplied by the New England Patriots might have lost two pounds of air pressure during the first half of a conference championship game last week.
After first calling the university’s physics department, a representative of the law firm hired by the league to investigate the matter—which has become a national sensation in the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl—followed up with an email to the department, according to The New York Times.
 
News outlets are no longer the only ones asking academics about the science of deflated footballs. Investigators for the National Football League have approached physics professors at Columbia University to help them understand how footballs supplied by the New England Patriots might have lost two pounds of air pressure during the first half of a conference championship game last week.
After first calling the university’s physics department, a representative of the law firm hired by the league to investigate the matter—which has become a national sensation in the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl—followed up with an email to the department, according to The New York Times.
- See more at: http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/academics-vs-ballghazi-round-2/92985#sthash.y8BLTgod.dpuf

Salaita Goes After University Donors in Lawsuit Over Job Loss at Illinois

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 29th, 2015



Steven G. Salaita’s widely anticipated lawsuit over the University of Illinois’s decision to deny him a tenured professorship takes the innovative step of also demanding damages from university donors who pressured its leaders not to hire him.
Along with its expected targets—top campus and university-system administrators, and nearly all of the system’s trustees—Mr. Salaita’s federal lawsuit names as defendants several as-yet-unidentified donors who threatened to withhold money from the university if it made good on its job offer to him.
The donors, and many others, had opposed the university’s plans to hire Mr. Salaita as a professor on its Urbana-Champaign campus because they objected to his inflammatory criticisms of Israel and argued that his statements were anti-Semitic. His lawsuit is in response to the university’s September decision to rescind its job offer to him.

The Credit Hour Is Here to Stay, at Least for Now

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 29th, 2015



The Carnegie Unit has been around for more than a century, and unless someone can come up with a better way of tracking college credit, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It presents challenges, but it has value because it sets minimum instructional standards.
That’s the conclusion of a report being released on Thursday by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The report, "The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape," examines the role of the Carnegie Unit, more commonly called the credit hour, in an ever-evolving world of education.
The authors of the report looked into the Carnegie Unit and its relationship to various elements of education reform, specifically transparency and flexibility in regard to the design and delivery of education, both in elementary and secondary schools and in postsecondary education.

The Carnegie Unit has been around for more than a century, and unless someone can come up with a better way of tracking college credit, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It presents challenges, but it has value because it sets minimum instructional standards.
That’s the conclusion of a report being released on Thursday by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The report, "The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape," examines the role of the Carnegie Unit, more commonly called the credit hour, in an ever-evolving world of education.
The authors of the report looked into the Carnegie Unit and its relationship to various elements of education reform, specifically transparency and flexibility in regard to the design and delivery of education, both in elementary and secondary schools and in postsecondary education.
- See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Credit-Hour-Is-Here-to/151465/#sthash.qRSrFlGo.dpuf

At Western Michigan U., Resistance Over a Popular Dean’s Dismissal

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 29th, 2015



Alexander Enyedi was "deeply disappointed," he wrote in an email to his top subordinates, when his contract as dean of Western Michigan University’s College of Arts and Sciences was not renewed. He was not the only one.
In the past week, many faculty and staff members, students, and alumni have made their opposition clear. About 200 people attended a Board of Trustees meeting last Thursday to express their support for Mr. Enyedi, reported Mlive.com, a Michigan news site. By Wednesday, more than 1,200 people had signed an online petition requesting that his contract be renewed for another five years after it expires, on June 30. He has been dean since 2010.
Sarah Hill, an associate professor of anthropology and environmental studies, started the petition. She says Mr. Enyedi’s advocacy of the university’s "core mission" of teaching, research, and service, and his devotion to preparing students to meet the challenges of the 21st century, make him "the symbolic leader of something which is much bigger than Alex."

A New Faculty Challenge: Fending Off Abuse on Yik Yak

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 29th, 2015



The three Eastern Michigan University professors had no idea that they were under attack by the Honors College students seated before them.
The three women knew that many of the nearly 230 freshmen in the auditorium resented having to show up at 9 a.m. every Friday for a mandatory interdisciplinary-studies class. But whatever unhappy students previously had said directly to them seemed mild in comparison to the verbal abuse being hurled at them silently as they taught one Friday morning last fall.
Students typed the words into their smartphones, and the messages appeared on their classmates’ screens via Yik Yak, a smartphone application that lets people anonymously post brief remarks on virtual bulletin boards. Since its release, in November 2013, the Yik Yak app has been causing havoc on campuses as a result of students’ posting threats of harm, racial slurs, and slanderous gossip.


- See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/A-New-Faculty-Challenge-/151463/#sthash.3RdNY1HS.dpuf