Monday, November 20, 2017

AAUP Committee Commends AGB Statement on Governance

November 17, 2017

Last month, the Board of Directors of Universities and Colleges (AGB) issued a statement on shared governance.  The statement delineates four principles "to help guide boards and those who work with them to achieve and support healthy and high-functioning shared governance".
  1. Boards should commit to ensuring a broad understanding of shared governance and the value it offers an institution or system.
  2. For shared governance to work, it must be based on a culture of meaningful engagement.
  3. Shared governance requires a consistent commitment by institutional and board leaders.
  4. Institutional policies that define shared governance should be reviewed periodically to ensure their currency and applicability.
Read the full article at the AAUP website here.

Tax Proposal Hurts Higher Ed

November 13, 2017

The AAUP, along with other higher education groups, strongly opposes proposed changes included in tax legislation being voted on by congress this week.  The AAUP particularly opposes the repeal of provisions exempting from taxation tuition waivers for campus employees and graduate students, which would cause a devastating tax increase for thousands of graduate students, and the repeal of the current Student Loan Interest Deduction, which would result in an increased cost of roughly $24 billion to student borrowers over the next decade.

Read the original post and the AAUP joint letter at the AAUP website here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Monthlong Faculty Strike Continues in Ontario

Inside Higher Ed
By Elizabeth Redden
November 17, 2017

A more than monthlong strike of faculty at Ontario's 24 public two-year colleges will continue after 86 percent of union members voted to reject the College Employer Council's contract offer.  The Ontario Public Service Employees Union reported Thursday that 95 percent of the 12,841 members on its voter list cast a ballot.

The union's bargaining team had called on members to reject the offer, having objected to various provisions including those relating to faculty workload and academic freedom.  The college's offer included a 1.75 percent wage increase in the first year of the contract, followed by 2 percent increases for each of the next three years.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

House Passes GOP Tax Plan

Inside Higher Ed
Andrew Kreighbaum
November 17, 2017

House Republicans on Thursday pushed through tax reform legislation widely opposed by higher education leaders who say many of its provisions will make a college degree less attainable and hurt the financial strength of institutions.

The bill passed by a 277 to 205 vote with 13 Republicans voting against the plan; it did not receive support from any Democrats.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Finger-Pointing at the Finance Firm TIAA

The New York Times
By Gretchen Morgenson
October 21, 2017

In the treacherous world of finance, where investors confront biased advice, hidden costs and onerous fees, one investment giant seems to stand apart - the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, also known as TIAA.  Calling itself a "mission-based organization" with a "nonprofit heritage."  TIAA has enjoyed a reputation as a selfless steward of its clients' assets for almost a century.

"Our values make us a different kind of financial service organization, known for our integrity," Roger W. Ferguson Jr., TIAA's president and chief executive, says on the company's website.

TIAA's clients - educators, researchers and public service workers, many inexperienced with finance - consider the company a trusted partner without whom they could not hope to retire comfortably.  That many customers revere it is not an overstatement.

Read the full article at the New York Times website here.

Fordham Non-Tenure-Track Professors and Postdocs Vote to Form Union

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
November 15, 2017

Non-tenure-track faculty members - adjuncts, full-timers and potdoctoral fellows - at Fordham University voted 16-to-1 to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Tuesday.  The news comes weeks after administrators and faculty organizers signed a neutrality agreement allowing for a free and fair election at the Roman Catholic campus.  Fordham in a statement called the election process "full and fair" and said it's looking forward to "working with SEIU on behalf of our employees."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Strike Authorization Procedure at Wright State

November 9, 2017

The Wright State University AAUP chapter, the faculty union representing full-time faculty at WSU, has adopted an amendment to its chapter constitution and bylaws by creating a procedure for authorizing and calling a strike.  Chapter president Martin Kich said that the move was necessary to protect the core missions of teaching and research at the university.

"We never had a procedure for calling a strike because in the past we always had a cordial relationship with the administration," he says in a statement.  "It is well known that an incompetent administration paired with a negligent Board of Trustees permitted flagrant misspending for several consecutive years that resulted in fiscal crisis at WSU.  But even though most misspending occurred in areas relevant to the University's academic core missions - teaching students and undertaking research-the administration's budget cuts have actually targeted the academic core!  In fact, Wright State students have already lost seventy-one faculty members due to the administration's budget cuts.  That means students have fewer course offerings, higher student-faculty ratios, and other significant diminutions of the conditions under which they learn and complete degrees.  Indeed, any erosion of faculty working conditions is an erosion of student learning conditions!"

To read the full statement, visit the national AAUP website here.

Will Grad Student Unionization Lose Steam Under Trump

Inside Higher Ed
By Nick Roll
November 9, 2017

Advocates for graduate student unionization at private colleges, underway for decades, were hopeful in the early years of the Obama administration that they would reach a breakthrough with a Democratic-appointed National Labor Relations Board.

Despite some setbacks, they eventually made progress with the NLRB - but it wasn't long before Donald Trump's 2016 presidential win added to organizers' problems.  In September, the U.S. Senate confirmed his second nomination to the NLRB, pushing the five-member board into a Republican majority.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Republican Tax Proposal Gets Failing Grade From Higher-Ed Groups

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Eric Kelderman
November 2, 2017

Republicans in Congress released their proposed overhaul of the nation's tax laws on Thursday, including several measures that would place new tax burdens on colleges and students - and, critics say, could undermine charitable giving to higher education.

The bull was met with immediate opposition from a number of higher-education groups, which argued that the measure would rob institutions of vital dollars and increase the price of college for debt-laden students and already-strapped families.

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Education's website here.

Off the Pedastal

Inside Higher Ed
By Rick Seltzer
November 6, 2017

Colleges and higher ed lobbyists are refining their attacks against House Republicans' proposed tax overhaul, taking aim at provisions that would significantly affect institutional operations as the tax plan goes under the microscope.

Several proposals to raise taxes on wealthy colleges and universities came under fire, including a 1.4 percent excise tax on private university endowments valued at $100,000 or more per full-time student and a 20 percent excise tax on employee compensation above $1 million at all nonprofit entities.  So did another proposal that would raise the cost of construction for private colleges, rich and poor, by eliminating tax-exempt private-activity bonds.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

It's a Tough Job, but somebody's Got to Do It

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
November 3, 2017

Shared governance is an issue that generally attracts attention when faculties and asministrations are at odds.  But a sense of mutual trust and responsibility between professors, administrators and trustees can make a big difference in meeting institutional goals and carrying out campus missions at points of calm and at points of tension.

Knowing that, two institutions with rocky pasts in terms of shared governance - Pennsylvania State University and the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University - are working toward structural reforms in that area.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The (Possible) Postdoc Union Boom

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
October 31, 2017

The past few years have brought unprecedented attention to the working conditions of academics off the tenure track.  With that attention has come increased unionization efforts among adjuncts and graduate students on private campuses, following a major decision from the National Labor Relations Board saying they're employees entitled to collective bargaining.

Could postdoctoral unions grow in number for the same reasons?  Some experts think so.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

After a Year of Tumult, Evergreen State Revises a Policy on the Use of Campus Space

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Chris Quintana
October 24, 2017

As public colleges become the staging grounds of a national battle over speech and security, campus leaders have searched for ways to keep their institutions out of the fray.  One popular strategy: taking a long hard look at the policies that dictate who can use their facilities.

After a tumultuous year of protest, Evergreen State College, the small public liberal-arts college in Olympia, Wash., has joined the ranks of institutions to do so.  Ans in doing so, it has made a point not to provide space to "organizations which do not assure the college that they do not discriminate."

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Education website here.

AGB Urges Trustees to Back Shared Governance

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
October 25, 2017

The Board of Directors of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges released a statement reminding trustees of the importance of shared governance.  "In higher education's volatile environment, shared governance is essential," the statement says.  "It adds substantial value to institutional progress and innovation.  In fact, responsibility and accountability for addressing colleges' and universities' thorniest challenges often rest with multiple parties.  Effective shared governance is about more than who is responsible for what.  At its best, shared governance is about how key constituents in institutional communities -- traditionally faculty, administrators and board members -- engage in achieving a commonly supported mission.

The statement is based on a 2016 AGB study of shared governance and includes four principles for trustees concerning shared governance: board should not only understand but champion value; it must be based on a culture of meaningful engagement; it requires a constant commitment by campus and board leaders; and policies related to shared governance should be reviewed periodically to ensure their effectiveness.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

AAUP and AFT-Wisconsin Condemn Attacks on Public Higher Education

October 23, 2017

A series of recent actions taken by Governor Scott Walker, the Wisconsin state legislature, and the University of Wisconsin system board of regents represents a concerted attack on the university as a public good and on the university's role in fostering democratic participation.  The stewards of the university system appear determined to destroy it.

In 2011, Governor Walker proposed, and the legislature passed, Act 10, curtailing the system faculty's rights to negotiate collectively.  In 2015, the legislature severely weakened tenure, shared governance, and due process-and, by extension, academic freedom.  The board launched its own salvo earlier this month, approving an anti-free-speech proposal allowing for the expulsion of students for "disrupting the free speech of others," announcing a plan to merge the system's two- and four-year institutions, and changing the procedures governing searches for chancellors and presidents-all without meaningful faculty input.  Troublingly, the new search procedures put virtually the entire process of hiring new 'campus CEOs' in the hands of the very regents who seek to undermine the public obligation of the university, with limited roles for other campus constituencies.  At the time of this writing, there is also a bill before the state legislature that would abolish a partnership that allowed university employees to work and train students at Planned Parenthood.

Read the full statement at the national AAUP website here.