Monday, December 22, 2014

Tenure and the Two-Year College

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 11th, 2009

The nationwide assault on tenure has found a beachhead, it seems, at community colleges.
Of course, not all two-year colleges and systems have traditionally offered tenure. But even among those that have, the practice is now under attack. Consider the situation in three Southern states.
Recently, the chancellor of the Alabama community-college system resigned amid charges from faculty groups that he was seeking to end the practice of awarding tenure there.
In Kentucky, the situation is even more serious. Up until about 10 years ago, the state's community colleges were part of the University of Kentucky system, and professors could earn tenure in that system. Then the two-year campuses were merged with the state's technical colleges to create the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Recently, its Board of Trustees voted to abolish tenure for new hires, although it didn't revoke tenure for those who already have it.

Straight Talk About 'Adjunctification'

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 15th, 2014

It’s unclear precisely when the term "adjunctification" was borne. It’s mentioned as far back as 2000 in articles about the job market in the humanities. Linda Collins used the phrase in a speech in 2002 when she was president of the California Community Colleges’ Academic Senate. Since then, the condition she so succinctly described—academe’s overreliance on adjunct faculty members, especially at two-year colleges—has only gotten worse. More than half of all U.S. faculty members now hold part-time, contingent appointments.
That situation and what to do about it have become frequent topics of conversation in The Chronicle and elsewhere. Having followed the discussion closely, and having dealt directly with part-time faculty members for many years as a former department chair and academic dean (not to mention being a former part-timer myself), I’ve concluded that there is no single solution. Perhaps we can take steps to alleviate it over time, but only if we come to fully comprehend its various nuances.

Dealing with Difficult Supervisors

Labor Notes
December 10th, 2014



Supervisors have various strategies to try to put stewards off, trip you up, or get around the contract.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for dealing with difficult supervisors. But being prepared can help you feel more confident, be more effective, and avoid getting caught off guard.
Before approaching the supervisor, write down the relevant facts and keep your goal in mind. What is the problem? What is the remedy you want? What is a reasonable timeline for getting the problem resolved?
Before a hearing, prepare enough so you’re comfortable presenting your case and can back it up with copies of the contract language, supporting documentation, witness testimony, and other relevant facts.

Supervisors have various strategies to try to put stewards off, trip you up, or get around the contract.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for dealing with difficult supervisors. But being prepared can help you feel more confident, be more effective, and avoid getting caught off guard.
Before approaching the supervisor, write down the relevant facts and keep your goal in mind. What is the problem? What is the remedy you want? What is a reasonable timeline for getting the problem resolved?
Before a hearing, prepare enough so you’re comfortable presenting your case and can back it up with copies of the contract language, supporting documentation, witness testimony, and other relevant facts.
- See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2014/12/dealing-difficult-supervisors#sthash.Zw0OjqOF.dpuf

University Of Iowa Employee Sues Over Alleged Discrimination For Conservative Past

Huffington Post - Education
December 18th, 2014

University of Iowa officials are defending their decision to reassign an employee who is suing over claims that she suffered employment discrimination because of her conservative views.The university transferred Teresa Wagner, a Republican, from her eight-year job as associate director of the law school's writing center to a position in the main library's unit that preserves special collections.
State lawyers last month petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss Wagner's lawsuit, which claims she was passed over for law school faculty jobs because liberal professors objected to her prior work for groups that oppose abortion rights. If the court doesn't intervene, a second trial is scheduled for March after a prior case ended in mistrial.

Marquette Suspends Professor For Criticizing Instructor's Opposition To 'Homophobic Comments'

Huffington Post - Education
December 17th, 2014

A professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee has been suspended after he publicly chastised a teaching assistant on his blog for discouraging a discussion in her classroom regarding gay rights, the school said on Wednesday.
Political science professor John McAdams was suspended with pay from his faculty and teaching duties at the Catholic university and barred from being on campus during the school's investigation, according to university spokesman Brian Dorrington.
The controversy began on Nov. 9 when McAdams criticized philosophy class instructor Cheryl Abbate on his blog.
According to McAdams, the instructor challenged a student's opposition to gay rights and told the student "homophobic comments" would not be allowed in the class. She also suggested the student drop the class if he did not like it, according to McAdams.
McAdams wrote Abbate was using a liberal tactic to dismiss any opinion that does not fit into their views.

NLRB Ruling on the Efforts of the Adjunct and Full-Time Contingent Faculty

The Academe Blog
December 22nd, 2014


Pacific Lutheran University argued that SEIU should be prevented from organizing a collective bargaining unit for adjunct faculty at the institution for two reasons: the faculty promote the religious mission of the university and the faculty have managerial rights as described in the “Yeshiva” decision. On both counts, the NLRB (with one member providing a dissenting opinion) found that the university had made an insufficient case.

Raising Ambitions: The Challenge in Teaching at Community Colleges

New York Times
December 19th, 2014

Three years ago, Eduardo Vianna, a professor at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, had a student who passed an entire semester without speaking in class. Like many others, the student, Mike Rifino, had come to LaGuardia requiring remedial instruction.
But the following semester Mr. Rifino turned up in Dr. Vianna’s developmental psychology course. This time he took a seat closer to the front of the room. Taking that as a positive sign, Dr. Vianna asked him to join a weekly discussion group for students who might want to talk about big ideas in economics, education and politics, subjects that might cultivate a sense of intellectual curiosity and self-understanding among students whose backgrounds typically left them lacking in either.
“The group met on Friday afternoons,” Dr. Vianna said, “and Mike’s friends were asking him why he was wasting his time; the students who came weren’t getting any credit.”

Read more here

Labor Board Hands Pacific Lutheran U. Adjuncts a Win in Bid to Unionize

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 20th, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board has handed contingent faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University a major win in their bid to form a labor union, rejecting the university’s assertion that, as a religious institution, it is exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction.
The board’s decision is also significant because it refines the NLRB’s standard that is used to determine whether certain faculty members can be considered managerial employees and therefore denied union representation.
That question was at the heart of a landmark 1980 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University (444 U.S. 672), which has since essentially barred full-time faculty members at private colleges from forming unions.
A regional official of the NLRB ruled last year that adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran could move to unionize. The full labor board later agreed to review the case, and in February, it solicited input on both of the questions that were central to the dispute.

Labor Board Sets New Tests for Whether Private-College Faculty Members Can Unionize

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 21st, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board has made it easier for faculty members at religious colleges—and private colleges as a whole—to unionize.
In a 3-to-2 decision last week involving contingent faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University, the board laid out new standards for deciding two of the most-divisive questions in academic-labor law: whether a college’s religious nature should exempt it from NLRB jurisdiction, and whether faculty members have too much involvement in the management of their colleges to be considered as employees eligible for union representation.
A regional official of the NLRB ruled last year that adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran could move to unionize. The full labor board later agreed to review the case, and in February it solicited input on both of the questions that were central to the dispute.

Big Union Win

Inside Higher Ed
December 22nd, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling last week that could clear the way for much more unionization of faculty members at private colleges and universities.
The ruling rejected the claims of Pacific Lutheran University that its full-time, non-tenure track faculty members are managerial employees and thus are not entitled to collective bargaining. In doing so, the NLRB offered a set of standards for evaluating whether faculty members are managerial as described by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1980 ruling in NLRB v. Yeshiva University, a decision that has largely made unionization impossible for tenure-track faculty members at private colleges and universities.
Last week's NLRB ruling suggested tools for evaluating whether private college faculty members have enough power to be considered managerial, and the standards set appear likely to be used by unions to say that faculty members at many private colleges -- even those on the tenure track -- aren't managerial, and are thus entitled to unionize.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Academic Freedom and Repellent Speech

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 15th, 2014

What are professors allowed to say? Where are we are allowed to say it?
Last week Deborah O’Connor, a senior lecturer at Florida State University, was pushed to resign after making racist and homophobic comments on a public Facebook page. She said some pretty horrible things, like blaming Europe’s troubles on “rodent Muslims.” She also told a well-known gay hairstylist to “Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass. ”
I am revolted by her remarks. However, I spent quite a lot of the fall arguing that impassioned political speech on a personal social-media account did not justify the “de-hiring” of Steven Salaita. As has been well reported, Salaita was hired for a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when stories about his angry tweets regarding the war in Gaza reached the trustees and chancellor of the university. They canceled his appointment. Every time I encountered someone justifying Salaita’s firing by emphasizing what they considered the gross anti-Semitism of his tweets, I responded with the following: If we do not stand on principle for people with whom we disagree, we have no principles.

Tentative and Incomplete

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 19th, 2014

The Education Department’s “framework” for its college-ratings plan is surprisingly tentative, filled with verbs like “exploring” and “considering.” It can be seen as a smart move: Kick the ratings can down the road, telegraph what might be coming, get more stakeholder involvement, and so on. But it can also be seen as an OMG moment: After so much effort, so many meetings, and so much chatter, there remain far too many questions unanswered and far too many ratings criteria ill-defined.
The department is considering three categories of variables: access, affordability, and student success. The department has a long history measuring access. So it’s no surprise that the access variables are the best developed. The calculations are mostly straightforward (e.g., percentage of students receiving Pell Grants has been reported for a long time; first-generation college status can be calculated directly from FAFSA), and the “considering” and “exploring” verbs appear only once (in a discussion about family contribution).

Thinking about grading

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 2nd, 2014

After reading about specifications grading in this article and then interviewing Linda Nilson about her book on the subject, I read Linda’s book over the holiday break. It’s causing a chain reaction in my mind about how I view and assess student work that expands outward into how I think about teaching and learning on a fundamental level.
Whether or not you’re on board with the idea of specifications grading, Linda’s book is a challenge to re-think the fundamental assumptions we in academia often make about assessment and grading. For me, there were four things that were very clear to me after reading the book that were only partially clear before.

Full-time faculty at Boston-area colleges take steps to unionize

The Boston Globe
December 16th, 2014

Full-time professors at several Boston-area private colleges are taking steps to unionize, joining a growing number of their part-time colleagues who have organized to seek higher pay and better work conditions.
The latest effort involves instructors and lecturers who are not on track to receive tenure, which is generally considered a permanent position, and represents the latest development in the national faculty-unionization movement launched a year and a half ago.
Full-time lecturers at Tufts University filed paperwork this month with the federal agency that oversees unionization votes. The lecturers requested that a formal vote be conducted soon for the school’s 90 or so full-time, nontenure-track faculty to decide whether to unionize.

Expanded Right to Use E-mail for Union Organizing

AAUP

The National Labor Relations Board recently issued a decision significantly expanding the right of employees to use their employers' e-mail systems for union organizing and other activities protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. The decision is available at http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d45819e22c9.
In Purple Communications the board explained that “the use of email as a common form of workplace communication has expanded dramatically in  ecent years.”  Therefore the board ruled that “employee  use of email for statutorily protected communications on  nonworking time must presumptively be permitted by employers who have chosen to give employees access to their email systems.” While the case addressed communications supporting the union during an organizing drive, given the board's expansion of protected activity, this also includes communications critical of the employer's employment-related policies, practices and management decisions.

Rating Plan Would Put Colleges Into One of Three Categories

New York Times
December 19th, 2014

In a report released Friday, the Obama administration offered its first public glimpse of a planned system for rating how well colleges perform, saying it wanted to group schools into three broad categories — good, bad and somewhere between.
In detailing what elements the system is likely to contain, the Department of Education also revealed how dauntingly complex the project has been, and how it continues to be hampered by the limitations of the data available.
The department labeled what the Friday release calls a “draft framework,” much of it subject to change, with a lot of work still to be done before it produces a first version of an actual rating formula. Officials said that first system should become public before the start of the next school year, about eight months away, but even then, it will remain a work in progress, to be upgraded as problems arise and better data become available.

Read more here

Ethos for the Tenured: A Christmas Carol

The Compositionist
December 18th, 2014

Tenured and tenure-track faculty keep writing anti-adjunct essays, and The Chronicle keeps publishing them. I won't comment on the choices of that particular news source. Instead, I'll recommend you check out the #ChronicleFail hashtag on twitter. The latest in these attempts to get adjuncts activists to just shut up and accept their working conditions comes from Rob Jenkins. He actually writes, “For one thing, adjunct teaching provides jobs for thousands of people. Not the best jobs with the best pay, true, but paying jobs nonetheless.” This, hot on the heels of Arizona State's English department deciding to increase adjunct faculty loads from 4/4 to 5/5 with no change in pay. (Have you signed the petition rallying against that move?) Administrators and tenured faculty alike regularly defend actions and attitudes like these, citing everything from budget constraints to “meritocracy.” I find the “but it's a job” argument particularly offensive, as it suggests that workers have no right to question the workplace. Without critique of working conditions, we'd have no weekend, no safety regulations, and no child labor laws.

Yes, Small Class General Education Courses Do Make Money

Inside Higher Ed
December 19th, 2014

It seems to be a common bit of wisdom that small classes with limited enrollments such as first year composition, or other general education courses, are not money makers[1].
We’re told it’s the large lectures, built on the 600-1000 person “sage on a stage” model, that are supporting these smaller undergraduate courses.
While these large lectures may be “profitable[2],” so are the smaller enrollment general education classes at universities that rely on non-tenure-track labor.
I’ve been writing about Arizona State the past couple days, but this is not an Arizona State phenomenon. This is something that is shared at any university that makes significant use of low paid, nontenurable instructors. Given that ¾ of all instructional faculty fit this designation, this is obviously true in many places.

Debate Over Michigan Professor Who 'Hates' Republicans

Inside Higher Ed
December 19th, 2014

The University of Michigan affirmed its commitment to faculty free speech as well as what it called a “respectful environment,” following calls from conservatives that it condemn the professor who wrote an essay called “It’s OK to Hate Republicans,” The Detroit News reported. The essay, by Susan J. Douglas, the chair and Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies, was published online this week by In These Times. “I hate Republicans,” Douglas wrote. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching [Republican legislators] Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”
Following the essay’s publication, Andrea Fischer Newman, a member of the university’s Board of Regents, wrote on her Facebook page that the essay was “extremely troubling and offensive,” and “ill-serves the most basic values of a university community.” Bobby Schostak, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party said in a statement that the essay was “ugly and full of hatred” and intimidating to students. He said the university and state Democrats should “join in condemning this disgraceful dialogue by calling for Professor Susan J. Douglas’ resignation.”

Honesty About Academic Jobs

Inside Higher Ed
December 19th, 2014

Universities should have a “proper dialogue” with Ph.D. students from the start about the fact that they are “not walking into a job for life.”
That is the view of Dame Athene Donald, head of a Royal Society working group that has published new guidelines about doctoral candidate development.Donald said the guidelines give a “clear statement” about the role of universities in managing the expectations of junior scientists at a time when competition for academic jobs has never been fiercer. Students should also take responsibility for establishing and managing their own career expectations, according to the document, "Doctoral Students’ Career Expectations: Principles and Responsibilities."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Law School Trigger Warnings?

Inside Higher Ed
December 17th, 2014

Trigger warning policies in college classrooms have been controversial since their inception, with advocates saying they protect students who have had traumatic experiences – primarily sexual assault – from having to relive them as part of their education. Opponents, meanwhile, have argued that trigger warning policies infringe on instructors’ academic freedom and deny students one of the hallmarks of a college education: being made to feel intellectually uncomfortable at times.
That conversation has now reached law schools, based on an essay by Jeannie Suk, a professor of law at Harvard University, that was recently published by The New Yorker.
In her piece, called “The Trouble with Teaching Rape Law,” Suk argues that increased anxiety among her students and colleagues about discussing complicated sexual assault cases is impeding criminal law professors’ ability to do their jobs well – ultimately at the expense of students and the rape victims whom some of them will eventually represent.

7 ways higher ed institutions are increasingly joining forces

Education Dive
December 18th, 2014

Collaborations between universities are nothing new, but several factors are fostering more cooperative agreements between a number of higher education institutions — even one-time rivals.
Technology advances, an increasing acceptance of online learning, financial pressures, and international ambitions have been the catalysts for several recently announced joint projects between colleges and universities. Here are seven of the more notable examples.

Yale & Harvard computer science class

Starting in the fall of 2015, Yale University will offer an introductory computer-science class with live-streamed lectures from Harvard University. Students from both campuses will take the same tests and collaborate via computer and in person. Yale’s computer-science department has scarce resources, so the partnership on the popular, nearly-10-year-old course makes sense. A Yale computer-science professor will teach the Yale side of the course, adding material for both the Yale and Harvard students. Harvard also plans to live-stream at least one Yale course.

Universities Push Harder Into Realm of Startups

New York Times
December 18th, 2014

Universities are stepping up efforts to create “spinouts,” or business startups born from some of the cutting-edge research of their students or faculty.
Some schools are creating funds that help cover startup costs. Others are pairing scientists with entrepreneurs, launching incubators, or programs to foster business development, and even including entrepreneurial activity in their reviews of faculty.
The moves come as universities face heightened pressure from trustees, government officials and others to demonstrate the value of academic research. Universities and other research institutions created 818 startups in fiscal 2013, up from 705 in 2012 and 670 in 2011, according to the Association of University Technology Managers, a trade group. Universities often receive a royalty or licensing fee from such ventures and in many cases an equity stake, typically 5% to 10% of the new company.

No Justice! No Peace! No Writing?

Inside Higher Ed
December 18th, 2014

Dear Kerry Ann,
The recent political events in Ferguson (and beyond) have me consumed with injustice in the world. I'm located in an isolated location (there are no actual protests in my area) so I'm spending enormous amounts of time on Facebook and Twitter re-posting news, fighting with "friends" I've only recently learned hold racist views, and watching all things protest on TV. I have no energy for my work and fighting for justice feels like an immediate need (or at least way more important than the boring article I'm writing). But I'm not meeting the expectations my department has for publishing my research and I have a third-year review looming. Spending time on my writing feels privileged, careerist and positively decadent when other people are protesting in the streets.
What should I do?
Passionate (But Not Productive) Assistant Professor

Suspended for Blogging

Inside Higher Ed
December 18th, 2014

Marquette University has suspended with pay and barred from campus the tenured professor who criticized a graduate student instructor in a personal blog, pending an investigation into his conduct.
John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette, last month wrote a controversial blog post accusing a teaching assistant in philosophy of shutting down a classroom conversation on gay marriage based on her own political beliefs. He based the post on a recording secretly made by a disgruntled student who wished that the instructor, Cheryl Abbate, had spent more time on the topic of gay marriage, which the student opposed. McAdams said Abbate, in not allowing a prolonged conversation about gay marriage, was “using a tactic typical among liberals,” in which opinions they disagree with “are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”

Faculty Leader Questions Use of LSU Arena for Controversial Prayer Rally

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 17th, 2014

A huge prayer rally, with Gov. Bobby Jindal as host and a controversial Christian group as sponsor, is set to take place next month at an arena at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, and a faculty leader is questioning whether that’s an appropriate use of a public higher-education facility, The Times-Picayune reports.
Kevin L. Cope, president of the Faculty Senate at LSU, told the New Orleans newspaper that the senate would not meet in time to try to push the January 24 event off campus, but he said it would consider asking the university to put more restrictions on the use of campus facilities. The resolution would require that facilities host only events that “advance the mission of the university,” he said.

Marquette U. Professor Who Blasted TA for Gay-Marriage Discussion Is Suspended

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 17th, 2014

An associate professor at Marquette University says he has been suspended with pay for publicly criticizing how a teaching assistant handled the topic of gay marriage in a class discussion, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Last month a student in the teaching assistant’s class confronted her for not allowing more discussion of whether a ban on gay marriage violated the philosopher John Rawls’s equal-liberty principle, after another student suggested it did. The student recorded the conversation, which was reported on by Inside Higher Ed.
It was also the subject of a post on the conservative-leaning blog of a political-science professor, John McAdams. Mr. McAdams said the teaching assistant, Cheryl Abbate, had limited free speech by “using a tactic typical among liberals now.”

U. of Michigan Professor Takes Heat for Writing ‘I Hate Republicans’

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 18th, 2014

The chair of the communications department at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is under fire, reports the Detroit Free Press, for a blog post she wrote that begins as follows:
“I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa, or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform, or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”
The essay by Susan J. Douglas, which appears to have been removed from the website of the magazine In These Times, has drawn the ire of prominent Republicans, including a university regent, Andrea Fischer Newman.
“The University of Michigan community rightly supports and defends a wide variety of viewpoints and a diversity of opinion on all subjects,” Ms. Newman wrote in a Facebook post, according to the Free Press. “But this particular column, which expresses and condones hatred toward an entire segment of individuals in our society based solely on their political views, fails to observe an equally important value of our university—respect for the right of others to hold views contrary to our own.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Professors Grow Weary of Idea That Technology Can Save Higher Ed

U.S. News
December 12th, 2014

After a full day of teaching at Boston College, Karen Arnold had to find time to read her students’ contributions to an online discussion board. Each was required to write at least one post, and, as usual, they seemed to have waited to do it until the night before the deadline.
“They would just blather something,” said Arnold, who teaches higher education and educational administration. “They didn’t have a conversation. It was more like a hoop-jumping exercise.”
That was around 2008, and Arnold has avoided assigning online discussions ever since.
Like other faculty nationwide with memories of failed experiments such as these, she’s pushing back against the widespread notion that technology can necessarily improve teaching and cut costs.
“We are fooling ourselves that we’re getting more efficient,” she said.

Ruling Lets Work Email Be Used to Organize Unions

New York Times
December 11th, 2014


In a decision that could affect millions of workers across the country, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Thursday that employers could not prohibit employees from using their company’s email to communicate and engage in union organizing on their own time.
The 3-to-2 ruling overturned a decision made in 2007, when Republicans held a majority on the board, that had forbidden such use of email.
Calling that ruling “clearly incorrect,” the current majority noted how technology had transformed daily habits. “The workplace is ‘uniquely appropriate’ and ‘the natural gathering place’ for such communications,” the board wrote, “and the use of email as a common form of workplace communication has expanded dramatically in recent years.”
The board did carve out an exception, saying that in special circumstances, employers might be able to create an overall ban on nonwork use of email if they could show it was necessary for productivity or discipline. The board said that as long as workers were allowed to send non-work-related emails, then employers could not bar the messages from being about union organizing.

Read more here

The ‘Job Market’ That Is Not One

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 15th, 2014

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the most infamous academic-labor study of all time, "Prospects for the Faculty in Arts and Sciences." The study, led by William Bowen, then president of Princeton University, set itself the task of projecting "demand and supply" for faculty a full quarter-century into the future—forecasting the so-called job market right up into our present decade.
Contrary to the widespread knowledge of permanent retrenchment and adjunctification, the study projected that a huge "undersupply" of people holding doctoral degrees would manifest by 1997. However, nothing of the kind transpired. In reality, the perma-temping of the faculty continued on the same steeply upward trend line as before.
The Bowen study’s misreading of the future raises two questions. What was wrong with the assumptions guiding it? And why did an effort with so many flaws receive such an uncritical greeting? The answers remain surprisingly relevant.
- See more at: http://m.chronicle.com/article/The-Job-Market-That-Is/150841/#sthash.EByc2MUV.dpuf


This year marked the 25th anniversary of the most infamous academic-labor study of all time, "Prospects for the Faculty in Arts and Sciences." The study, led by William Bowen, then president of Princeton University, set itself the task of projecting "demand and supply" for faculty a full quarter-century into the future—forecasting the so-called job market right up into our present decade.
Contrary to the widespread knowledge of permanent retrenchment and adjunctification, the study projected that a huge "undersupply" of people holding doctoral degrees would manifest by 1997. However, nothing of the kind transpired. In reality, the perma-temping of the faculty continued on the same steeply upward trend line as before.
The Bowen study’s misreading of the future raises two questions. What was wrong with the assumptions guiding it? And why did an effort with so many flaws receive such an uncritical greeting? The answers remain surprisingly relevant.


'The History of American Higher Education'

Inside Higher Ed
December 16th, 2014

American higher education today looks nothing like it did a few generations ago, let alone at the founding of the country. A new book, The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture From the Founding to World War II (Princeton University Press), explores how colleges evolved. The author is Roger L. Geiger, who is distinguished professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University. His previous books include Tapping the Riches of Science: Universities and the Promise of Economic Growth and Knowledge and Money: Research Universities and the Paradox of the Marketplace.
He responded via email to questions about his new book.

One Course Without Pay

Inside Higher Ed
December 16th, 2014

When it comes to first-year writing courses, how many sections are too many for one instructor to teach? Full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members at Arizona State University say five per semester, and they’re protesting their department’s plan to increase their teaching load to that number (up from four) each term, starting next fall. They say they’re worried the service work they’ll give up in exchange for the extra course won’t be taken up by tenure-line faculty, and that they won’t be able to give needy students the same level of attention.
In effect, the university has just increased instructors' teaching workload by 25 percent, without offering an extra dollar for the effort.
Faculty advocates agree that the planned course load is too much, and that it’s another example of an institution asking some of its most vulnerable faculty members to do more with less.
Arizona State, meanwhile, says the change is necessary to address a budget shortfall.

Optimizing adjuncts in higher ed

University Business
December 16th, 2014


Higher ed’s reliance on adjunct faculty, hardly a secret anymore, has gotten much scrutiny in the past few years.
Institutions of all types benefit from the fact that adjuncts—provided they don’t become eligible for health benefits by working more than 30 hours a week—can be employed for a fraction of the investment needed for full-time faculty. In fact, many schools now include a large contingent of part-time faculty as routine business practice.
The number of adjuncts employed nationwide has increased by more than 160 percent over the past two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Education. At the same time, colleges face growing concerns that the needs of adjuncts, as well as their potential to contribute more fully to student success, are being overlooked.

Fired Faculty Activist Settles Lawsuit Against Community College in Texas

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 16th, 2014

A tenured professor who was fired from his job at the College of the Mainland after years of clashing with the administration has settled a lawsuit against the Texas institution, the Houston Chronicle reported. Neither side disclosed the terms of the settlement.
The professor, David Michael Smith, had accused the college of retaliating against him for filing two previous free-speech lawsuits and helping colleagues challenge the administration’s actions. The college said he had been dismissed for insubordination and for harassing his peers.
Mr. Smith told the newspaper he was “certain” there would be additional lawsuits unless the administration was more willing to work with employees and students. Beth Lewis, the college’s president, said there was “no merit” to Mr. Smith’s assertion that the administration did not tolerate dissent.

Faculty Leaders Try Their Hand at Running a College

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 16th, 2014

Their relationships are often characterized by skepticism, mistrust, or, in the worst cases, outright antagonism.
The divide between administrators and professors is legendary in higher education, where the model of shared governance seems to fuel tensions as often as it resolves them.
Does some of the problem boil down to simple misunderstandings, or a lack of understanding? Could training help?
That’s the idea behind an annual institute for rising faculty leaders started by Richard A. Detweiler, president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association and president emeritus of Hartwick College. Over a weekend, more than two dozen professors from the 13 small private colleges that make up the association attend a workshop designed to educate them about how their institutions run and what it is like to lead them. Now in its ninth year, the Academic Leadership and Innovation Institute includes briefings about how various stakeholders, including students, donors, and trustees, view a college. The participants compare their colleges’ concerns. And they go through exercises designed to better their negotiation skills so they can help their colleagues back home find common ground, whether in departmental turf wars or institutionwide crises.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Big-Data Scientists Face Ethical Challenges After Facebook Study

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 15th, 2014


Though it may not feel like it when you see the latest identity-affirming listicle shared by a friend on Facebook, we are a society moving toward evidence. Our world is ever more quantified, and with such data, flawed or not, the tools of science are more widely applied to our decisions. We can do more than observe our lives, the idea goes. We can experiment on them.
No group lives that ethos more than the life-hacking coders of Silicon Valley. Trading on Internet-wired products that allow continuous updates and monitoring, programmers test their software while we use it, comparing one algorithmic tweak against another—the A/B test, as it’s known. As we browse the web, we are exposed to endless manipulations. Many are banal—what font gets you to click more?—and some are not.

Union Advocates Applaud Recent NLRB Decisions

Inside Higher Ed
December 15th, 2014


Union advocates applauded two decisions by the National Labor Relations Board last week, one of which protects the right of employees using work email for union communications. The other decision revises rules for union elections and could shorten the union election process. In the first case, that of Purple Communications and Communications Workers of America, the board ruled that employees communicating with each other on work computers – but not on work time – are free to discuss union activity. The decision did not address communication with non-employees, however.
Aaron Nisenson, chief counsel for the American Association of University Professors, said via email that the decision as it pertains to higher education has particular relevance to faculty members, who frequently communicate via email. “The ability to use email to communicate is essential to faculty, particularly contingent faculty, who are often dispersed and may not be able to speak directly to each other regularly,” he added.

The Perils of a M/W/F Class

The Duck of Minerva
December 5th, 2014


Greetings, fellow Duck readers.  I realize I’ve been MIA this semester – DGS duties and ISA-Midwest stuff took too much of my non-research time.  Another factor in my absence, however: a Monday Wednesday Friday schedule. And, it sucked.[1]  Like large-tornado-near-my-hometown sucked.  Today marks the last Friday class of the semester – thank god.[2]  Even though I should be getting back to research this morning, I wanted to write a little bit about why I think 50 minute/3 day a week classes should be banned in our discipline.

  • Let’s take a lesson from the educators: longer class periods that do not meet as often have some advantages for climate and learning.
My significant other, who teaches middle school science, has taught in schools where class periods are 40, 50, and 90 minutes in length.  And, my SO’s preference is strongly for longer class periods.  This preference is in line with a lot of the peer-reviewed research on block scheduling (one of the ways where students have longer class periods that do not meet as often in secondary schools).  Zepeda and Mayers (2006) reviewed 58 previous academic studies on the issue and, although they find very inconsistent results across the studies, they do find that there were improvements in “student grade point averages” and “school climate” when students were on block schedules. Queen (2008)’s handbook  on the topic also reviews the academic literature with a positive take–away point for block scheduling. There are a lot of new dissertations on the topic, however, with very different results across disciplines.  Although I’m not an expert on the topic, the logic that longer class periods allow for more diversity in teaching techniques makes a lot of intuitive sense.

Yik Yak Take-Back

Inside Higher Ed
December 15th, 2014

In the stressful final days of a long and trying semester, Colgate University professors wanted to spread some love. To get the message across, they turned to a social media scene frequented by students but foreign to many professors.
They set out to take back Yik Yak by flooding the anonymous social media app with happy thoughts.
Yik Yak -- like the many “confessions websites” before it -- is associated with campus-specific hateful comments and cyber bullying.
“It started there, and we wanted to end it there,” said Eddie Watkins, an associate professor of biology at Colgate.
Racist comments on Yik Yak were responsible in part for tensions at Colgate in September that led a group of students to stage a multi-day sit-in to protest the university’s lack of diversity. Insulting -- and at times threatening -- comments reappeared on the app's Colgate page (and elsewhere) in recent weeks as people across the country have organized to protest grand jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police.

Spelman College Suspends Professorship Named for Bill Cosby

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 15th, 2014

Colleges and universities with ties to Bill Cosby have in recent weeks been distancing themselves from the embattled comedian. On Sunday, Spelman College joined their ranks. The historically black women’s college released a statement saying it was suspending the endowed professorship named for Mr. Cosby and his wife. The short statement reads:
“The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship was established to bring positive attention and accomplished visiting scholars to Spelman College in order to enhance our intellectual, cultural, and creative life; however, the current context prevents us from continuing to meet these objectives fully. Consequently, we will suspend the program until such time that the original goals can again be met.”
The professorship was established with a $20-million gift from Mr. Cosby to the university in 1988. The comedian has been accused by at least 20 women of sexual assault.