Friday, May 29, 2015

Council Members Complain, and Summer School Money Is Restored

New York Times
May 28th, 2015

While Mayor Bill de Blasio fights in Albany to maintain his control over New York’s school system, his schools chancellor on Thursday got a cool reception from an audience that is usually much friendlier to the administration: the City Council.
The issue: 17,000 slots in summer programs for middle school students that the administration had cut at the last minute, in some cases after parents had enrolled their children.
The money saved — nearly $28 million — was to be redirected to the city’s lowest-performing schools, where the administration is under pressure to show improvement. But on Thursday, when the chancellor, Carmen Fariña, appeared at a hearing on the Education Department’s budget, council members said that was not a good enough reason to deprive other children of opportunities, and by the end of the day, the administration said it had decided to restore the summer program money.

Read more here

Early Adapters

Inside Higher Ed
May 29th, 2015


Professors have good reason to be wary of adaptive learning software, which automates parts of the teaching process. Adaptive courses could mean a different role for faculty members, some fear, or no role at all.
However, some of these new “personalized” learning tools are designed to be faculty friendly, and to put the technology in the hands of professors.
Smart Sparrow, for example, falls into an emerging category of customizable adaptive platforms that faculty members can use to develop and tweak their online courses. The company’s wares are used widely in Australia, and are beginning to spread in the U.S.
D2L released a different play on adaptive last month. The Canadian ed-tech company formerly known as Desire2Learn is the developer of the Brightspace learning management platform. D2L embedded an adaptive engine, dubbed LeaP, into the platform.

Rethinking Poli-Sci

Inside Higher Ed
May 29th, 2015

What are the root causes of inequality? Why does war break out? What stories can data tell about politics? These are some of the big questions many undergraduates hope to tackle in introductory level political science, only to find that departments on the vast majority of campuses ask them to choose specialized subfields -- heavy on theory and modeling -- early on.
Disappointed, some students abandon the discipline before they ever get to those issues. Political scientists at Stanford University want to change that. They’re overhauling the undergraduate major to make it less like the graduate curriculum and more immediately relevant to students’ lives and interests, adding a new introductory course that isn't based on any one subfield and an additional concentration track for data science enthusiasts. Whether the changes will stem the steep drop in numbers of majors in the department remains to be seen. But they’re already notable for how they align with ongoing internal criticism of the discipline’s approach to undergraduate education. Will other departments follow suit?

CAEPed Crusader Ousted

Inside Higher Ed
May 29th, 2015


The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation has weathered more than its fair share of turbulence in its few years in existence, perhaps the inevitable result of its origins (a merger between two unequal and competing accreditors) and its mission (tougher standards in a field long criticized for settling for lesser ones). That the organization has accomplished what it has, let alone survived at all, is arguably a victory.
Its founding leader, James Cibulka, wasn't so fortunate. He was dismissed this month. The accreditor noted Cibulka's departure with one line in a news release about his interim successor, and its board chair repeatedly declined in an interview to say anything of substance about why Cibulka is leaving, except to imply that he may have been the right person to build the organization but not to lead it.

Adjuncts at Ithaca College Vote to Unionize

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 29th, 2015

Adjunct professors at Ithaca College have voted to unionize with the Service Employees International Union, the group said in a news release on Thursday. Part-time professors at the New York college voted 172 to 53 in favor of unionizing, according to the release.
The vote represents the latest victory for the union’s Adjunct Action project, which seeks to organize adjuncts across the country. New York colleges whose adjuncts have also voted to unionize with the SEIU include the College of Saint Rose and Schenectady County Community College.

U. of Illinois Chancellor Expects AAUP Censure in Response to Salaita Dispute

The Chronicle of Higher Education 
May 29th, 2015

The chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign expects it to be censured by the American Association of University Professors over the treatment of Steven G. Salaita, The News-Gazette reports. Phyllis M. Wise told a faculty committee on Thursday that she had been “told by people who know better than me that we should expect to be censured.” The association’s academic-freedom committee is expected on Saturday to vote on whether to recommend censuring the university.
The Urbana-Champaign campus offered Mr. Salaita a tenured professorship in 2013 but opted not to hire him last year after the professor drew fire for anti-Israel tweets. Mr. Salaita and his supporters said the university’s decision amounted to a violation of academic freedom, and the professor has sued the university over the revoked job offer.

My Title IX Inquisition

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 29th, 2015


When I first heard that students at my university had staged a protest over an essay I’d written in The Chronicle Review about sexual politics on campus — and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows — I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual-assault allegations, and I’d been writing about the new consensual-relations codes governing professor-student dating. Also, I’d been writing as a feminist. And I hadn’t sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed symbolically incoherent.
According to our campus newspaper, the mattress-carriers were marching to the university president’s office with a petition demanding "a swift, official condemnation" of my article. One student said she’d had a "very visceral reaction" to the essay; another called it "terrifying." I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront of someone’s ideas, which seemed to prove my point.

U. of Kansas Takes Narrow View of Lecturer’s Privacy Rights in Records Dispute

The Chronicle of Higher education
May 29th, 2015


Neither the legal principle of academic freedom nor the receipt of outside financial support for his work gives a public-college lecturer a right to declare his correspondence private, the University of Kansas argued this week in state court.
In a brief filed in a records dispute involving Arthur Hall, a lecturer who serves as director of the university’s Center for Applied Economics, the university argued that only higher-education institutions, and not their individual faculty members, have a right to academic freedom under the First Amendment. It also disputed Mr. Hall’s assertion that the state’s open-records law does not cover his correspondence as director because the center is financed with private funds from businesses.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Unwanted Summer Break

Inside Higher Ed
May 26th, 2015


Adjuncting, as we know, is a constant struggle for anyone who does it full time. For women especially, wage theft, labor exploitation, institutional sexism and parenting issues intersect to affect their working conditions—and, by extension, their students’ learning conditions.
Consider this, from Clare Dale: “I’ve been told that, as a woman, it is often assumed I am bringing in a second income. This is archaic and wrong.”
Or this, from Susan Gill: “Could the fact that imposter syndrome disproportionately affects female academics mean they are more likely to accept precarious conditions?”
A former adjunct remembers something similar to Clare’s experience: her department assumed that, as a wife and parent, she wouldn’t want full-time work. (We’d love to hear from any men who’ve experienced something similar, if there are any.) Two other adjunct mothers are also the breadwinners, which is nearly impossible on their salaries without outside assistance—especially during the summer, when they might not be paid.

To Agency or Not to Agency

Inside Higher Ed
May 28th, 2015

Market position, branding, messaging: these terms were once reserved for big corporations hawking everything from soft drinks and toothpaste to luxury cars. But such words now echo inside the halls of academia. While reasons for this are a complex stew of rising costs, declining state funding and fierce competition, it’s plain to see that universities are spending more money to attract students using media channels that didn’t exist within academia a few years ago.
In my dozen years working in communications for two land-grant universities, I’ve seen the sophistication and ambition of marketing tactics soar on campus. From traditional commercials to interactive websites and online documentaries, it’s been an exhilarating storytelling laboratory full of challenges and opportunities for personal growth for staff communicators like me. But I’ve also seen more institutions turning outside, to polished agencies of the sort that once seemed more likely to work with Fortune 500 companies and major corporations than state universities and private colleges.

Get Your Head Out of Your Apps

Inside Higher Ed
May 22nd 2015


Across the campus I walk
Nary an opportunity to talk
Student heads are a-sway
Faces cocked not my way
No one can say that they gawk

Cell phone ostriches all
The screen enough to enthrall
Be it Reddit or Twitter
No people to consider
A virtual social withdrawal

There is no humane conversation
Instead just digital sensation
Likely social media
Or perhaps Wikipedia
An obsessive compulsive fixation

Reynolds: Fire administrators to fix higher ed

USA Today
May 26th, 2015


Is the air finally gushing out of the higher education bubble? Well, enrollment dropped last year, and even some pretty tony colleges have closed. Perhaps the most dramatic sign of all was spotted by New York Times' Frank Bruni: The new president of University of Texas-Austin has turned down the offered million dollar salary. Instead, he'll settle for a still-posh $750,000. But a new university president making 25% less is still news. The question is whether this trend will trickle down, as it must if higher education is to reform.
University presidents are a pretty well compensated bunch. As Bruni notes, Yale paid its former president Richard Levin an $8.5 million "additional retirement benefit." Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, gets $7 million a year. E. Gordon Gee of the Ohio State University got a $6 million retirement bonus after earning about $2 million a year as president. 

Funding Woes

Inside Higher Ed
May 28th, 2015


As Illinois, Louisiana and Wisconsin threatened nine-figure reductions in higher education funding, public colleges and universities in those states made their own threats in return. System leaders warned -- often and loudly -- that layoffs, program cuts and the general welfare of the states' college students were on the line if legislators went forward with the proposed cuts.
Now two of the three states appear to be on the path to dramatically minimizing funding reductions. But while Louisiana and Illinois staved off cuts that were roughly $600 million and $400 million, respectively, the University of Wisconsin System remains vulnerable to a $300 million reduction over the next two years.

Like Numbers? Read the Education Dept.’s Mammoth Report on Education in 2015

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 28th, 2015


The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics on Wednesday released its annual report on the condition of American education. Included in the many-paged report are facts and figures encompassing higher, secondary, and elementary education. Among other things, the report notes that total enrollment in postsecondary education declined from 2012-13 to 2013-14, the number of master’s degrees awarded dropped from 2011-12 to 2012-13, and the average net price at four-year public institutions increased that same year.


Lessons From a Competency-Based Education Experiment

The Chronicle Of Higher Education
May 28th, 2015

Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, has become a leading proponent of competency-based education, a way to award degrees based on testing and portfolios rather than "seat-time" in a traditional course. Last year the university started a competency-based degree program, called College for America, that has enrolled about 2,000 students. Mr. LeBlanc has been in Washington to counsel the U.S. Department of Education on the issue, as part of a three-month assignment as a senior adviser to the under secretary of education, Ted Mitchell. He stopped by The Chronicle's offices recently to talk about his vision of competency-based education and what has surprised him from his college's own experiment.

Want to Value Your Chinese Students? Say Their Names Right

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 28th, 2015


If there was any question about one of the most dominant issues in international education, consider this: Several hundred people packed a ballroom here to mangle Chinese vowels.
The session on Chinese students’ names was a hot item at the annual conference of Nafsa: Association of International Educators, which runs through Friday. No wonder — one in every three international students on American campuses today is from China, and their numbers continue to surge.
What’s not necessarily growing is American educators’ ability to pronounce Chinese names. In fact, when Jennifer Vos, the panel’s organizer, surveyed Chinese students at Fordham University, where she is an international-student adviser, she found that 75 percent of them had adopted English names. But almost all said they would have preferred to use their given names, if only non-Chinese speakers were able to pronounce them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Cost of an Adjunct

The Atlantic
May 26th, 2015


Imagine meeting your English professor by the trunk of her car for office hours, where she doles out information like a taco vendor in a food truck. Or getting an e-mail error message when you write your former biology professor asking for a recommendation because she is no longer employed at the same college. Or attending an afternoon lecture in which your anthropology professor seems a little distracted because he doesn’t have enough money for bus fare. This is an increasingly widespread reality of college education.
Many students—and parents who foot the bills—may assume that all college professors are adequately compensated professionals with a distinct arrangement in which they have a job for life. In actuality those are just tenured professors, who represent less than a quarter of all college faculty. Odds are that students will be taught by professors with less job security and lower pay than those tenured employees, which research shows results in diminished services for students.
 

Cap and Gown

New York Times
May 22nd, 2015


With the traditional round of speeches come the usual sentiments: Thank your mother. Dream big. Go out and change the world.
Sometimes, it’s the quips rather than the soaring rhetoric that are most memorable. Kurt Vonnegut famously did not tell the Class of 1997 to “wear sunscreen— that was the advice of the Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, fantasizing about the commencement address she would give if ever invited. Below are speeches that were actually given by the people credited; you can watch the videos if you want proof. We’ll be collecting more as the season goes on, and would love to hear from readers which ones you like best, and why.
There are already some take-away aphorisms. From Ken Burns, the documentary filmmaker, to graduates of the Washington University in St. Louis: “Listen to jazz.” Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, told Barnard graduates, “It’s your turn to climb on the bike.” Or, as the novelist Salman Rushdie put it most bluntly to Emory University’s graduates: “Do not make jackasses of yourselves.” MOTOKO RICH

Professors These Days

Inside Higher Ed
May 25th, 2015


The world will never be short of “kids these days” essays.
Two recent examples got on my radar: Mark Bauerlein’s lament in the Times and Prof. Keith Parsons’ “Message to My Freshman Students” where he drops some knowledge on the youth today about the difference between a “teacher” and a “professor.”
My personal favorite of the genre is from three years ago, in which the current generation of students were called “unteachable.”
At their core, these essays speak to a disconnect in values between professor and student. Professors see one thing as important, students another, and the professors, believing themselves to be the authority[1] in this particular relationship, seek to drop some knowledge on the young-uns, usually in the form of a lecture that makes it clear things used to be better.

Sometimes Permission, Always Forgiveness

Inside Higher Ed
May 27th, 2015 


Academe is one of the most institutionally conservative communities that I’ve ever encountered. I have observed to many of my academic friends that when I left a job in the federal government to pursue an academic career, I left the second slowest, second most resistant to change institution in the nation for the absolute slowest, most resistant to change institution in the country. While that quip is mostly tongue-in-cheek, it holds true to a certain extent, at least in my own experience.
It can be maddeningly difficult to initiate some types of work or change within an academic environment. Absolutely maddening.
Enter a timeworn cliché: better to ask forgiveness than permission. The source of this cliché, which speaks to some of the fundamental experiences of life in modern academe, is in dispute. I am not interested in the phrase’s origins, though, but rather its wisdom. And hoary as the saying may be, I nonetheless find some wisdom in it. Maybe not wisdom -- maybe that’s the wrong word. I find some practicality in the saying, some practicality in the idea that -- at least sometimes -- we simply must act on an idea rather than talk it to death or subject it to committee.

Cable History

Inside Higher Ed
May 27th, 2015

The University of Oklahoma raised some eyebrows last year when it announced it was partnering with the History Channel to offer a new U.S. history survey course. The thrust of the initial interest was the university’s decision to pair up with a relatively old-school medium -- cable television -- to offer distance learning in the midst of a digital platform boom. But after a successful first run of the course, another story has yet to be told: that of history faculty members’ lingering distaste at what they call being left out of the process and, more generally, at the university partnering with a commercial entity now perhaps better known for reality TV shows such as Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People than college-level history. Proponents of the partnership, meanwhile, tout the channel’s top-rate archives and audiovisual capabilities, as well as its mission to make historical study more accessible.
“This is the best introductory history class I’ve ever taught,” said Steven M. Gillon, a professor of history at Oklahoma who spends much of the year in New York City, where he is the History Channel’s longtime historian in residence. “This has completely changed my perspective of [distance learning].”

Envious? Who, Me?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015

Last month I received my annual statement of sales for my first book, which was published in 2001. For a moment, I felt very excited. I had learned earlier in the year that the book had finally gone into paperback, and I’d hoped that might bring it renewed attention. I opened the envelope and learned that in 2014 the book sold precisely one copy, entitling me to $4 in royalties.
Understandably, the press doesn’t write checks for royalty totals under $25. Too bad: I could have bought a very nice cappuccino with my earnings.
In 1988, when I began my graduate studies as a Civil War historian, Princeton University’s James McPherson earned a Pulitzer Prize for his narrative of the Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom. The book sold 700,000 copies. The royalties must have made him a millionaire, providing an enormous economic supplement to the salary for his endowed chair. The book is worthy of the acclaim that it received. In fact, it has contributed greatly to my own scholarship and teaching.

Is flipping an online course possible?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 14th, 2015


I am emerging from a self-imposed blog exile that happened because of the usual end-of-semester chaos, plus the fact that I am currently teaching my very first online course — a fully online version of our standard Calculus 1 class. Being new to online teaching, designing and building the course was a major time investment. The class has turned out to be a microcosm of everything I have tried pedagogically in the last several years: it uses a lot of technology, it uses specifications grading, and it’s flipped.
That last part, about being flipped, has been a fascinating and perplexing problem. Flipping a fully online class challenges all the usual assumptions about the flipped classroom that we make. Our language about flipped learning is rooted in the concept of “class time”. Students gain first contact with new material “before class”, then there is some work on more advanced and creative applications “during class”, and then students do even more advanced work “after class”. Even my go-to operational definition of flipped learning avoids the idea of “class time” and instead refers to “group learning space” and “individual learning space”. But what if there are no synchronous class meetings whatsoever? Is it even semantically possible to flip a class that never meets — or rather, a class that always meets?

What Does ‘Personalized Learning’ Look Like? Video Series Aims to Go Beyond Hype

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 21st, 2015


An education blog whose authors believe there’s too much hype around “personalized learning” technology has posted a series of video case studies about the trend, hoping to help get beyond overheated rhetoric.
The result is an unusual look at five colleges trying high-tech classroom experiments and wrestling with how new teaching methods change the role of students and teachers.
The videos were produced by the education-technology blog e-Literate, with the support of a $350,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The case studies, divided into short segments covering different topics, together resemble a MOOC. That’s no accident, says Michael Feldstein, founder of the blog and a host of the videos, who hopes that some teaching-with-technology centers will use the videos in their professional-development workshops.

How Many Women Are Adjuncts Out There?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 27th, 2015


In February we celebrated National Adjunct Walkout Day. It was supposed to create awareness of the plight faced by so many college instructors today: the utter lack of job security and the poor compensation for the amount of labor involved. Here we have a profession in charge of helping train and teach our society’s citizens, and yet 75.5 percent of its practitioners live in this precarious position.
But where does that 75-percent figure come from? It comes from the Department of Education’s 2009 study of “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions,” and it includes graduate teaching assistants as well as contingent faculty members. Many of us in academe, in the news media, and even in the White House’s 2014 report “The Just-in-Time Professor,” have been using the data from that 2009 report. 


In February we celebrated National Adjunct Walkout Day. It was supposed to create awareness of the plight faced by so many college instructors today: the utter lack of job security and the poor compensation for the amount of labor involved. Here we have a profession in charge of helping train and teach our society’s citizens, and yet 75.5 percent of its practitioners live in this precarious position.
But where does that 75-percent figure come from? It comes from the Department of Education’s 2009 study of “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions,” and it includes graduate teaching assistants as well as contingent faculty members. Many of us in academe, in the news media, and even in the White House’s 2014 report “The Just-in-Time Professor,” have been using the data from that 2009 report.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1017-how-many-women-are-adjuncts-out-there#sthash.jkvPwAEC.dpuf
In February we celebrated National Adjunct Walkout Day. It was supposed to create awareness of the plight faced by so many college instructors today: the utter lack of job security and the poor compensation for the amount of labor involved. Here we have a profession in charge of helping train and teach our society’s citizens, and yet 75.5 percent of its practitioners live in this precarious position.
But where does that 75-percent figure come from? It comes from the Department of Education’s 2009 study of “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions,” and it includes graduate teaching assistants as well as contingent faculty members. Many of us in academe, in the news media, and even in the White House’s 2014 report “The Just-in-Time Professor,” have been using the data from that 2009 report.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1017-how-many-women-are-adjuncts-out-there#sthash.jkvPwAEC.dpuf
 
In February we celebrated National Adjunct Walkout Day. It was supposed to create awareness of the plight faced by so many college instructors today: the utter lack of job security and the poor compensation for the amount of labor involved. Here we have a profession in charge of helping train and teach our society’s citizens, and yet 75.5 percent of its practitioners live in this precarious position.
But where does that 75-percent figure come from? It comes from the Department of Education’s 2009 study of “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions,” and it includes graduate teaching assistants as well as contingent faculty members. Many of us in academe, in the news media, and even in the White House’s 2014 report “The Just-in-Time Professor,” have been using the data from that 2009 report.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1017-how-many-women-are-adjuncts-out-there#sthash.jkvPwAEC.dpuf
In February we celebrated National Adjunct Walkout Day. It was supposed to create awareness of the plight faced by so many college instructors today: the utter lack of job security and the poor compensation for the amount of labor involved. Here we have a profession in charge of helping train and teach our society’s citizens, and yet 75.5 percent of its practitioners live in this precarious position.
But where does that 75-percent figure come from? It comes from the Department of Education’s 2009 study of “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions,” and it includes graduate teaching assistants as well as contingent faculty members. Many of us in academe, in the news media, and even in the White House’s 2014 report “The Just-in-Time Professor,” have been using the data from that 2009 report.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1017-how-many-women-are-adjuncts-out-there#sthash.jkvPwAEC.dpuf

Career Advice From an Oldish Not-Quite Geezer

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015

Over the course of my career, I’ve given and received a lot of advice. Much of it was wrong. Sometimes it lacked the perspective that comes with age and experience. So now, as an official "oldster" at 65 (proof: thanks to my age, I just got $25 off upon joining a botanical society), I offer the following advice, from someone who has thought and written about academic careers for 40 years.
Put your family first. Academics often have trouble doing that. I know I did. Starting out in academe at age 25, I had so many career issues to worry about — getting hired, getting publications, getting grants, getting promoted, getting tenured, getting promoted again, getting (I hoped) awards. The crucial word there is "getting."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The candidate with a plan for 'free' university education

BBC News
May 26th, 2015


If Germany, Denmark and Sweden can offer their young people a free university education, Bernie Sanders says, the US can, too.
The Vermont senator, the "democratic socialist" independent who formally announces his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday, is making the soaring cost of higher education in the US a key issue in his candidacy.
He's considered the longest of long-shots to beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the primaries, but by targeting the soaring cost of college tuition he may have found an issue that resonates with the same young voters who helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency.

The Last Colony in Shared Governance

AAUP National
May/June 2015


My first opportunity to hear women’s studies professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall talk about her experience of shared governance at Spelman College, a historically black college in Atlanta, was in spring 2008. She spoke that year at Medgar Evers College, the unit of the City University of New York where I teach. As I listened, I found myself saying “amen” to her talking points again and again, as if they were my own. What she described had an uncanny resemblance to the governance history of Medgar Evers. Reading her piercing piece in the November–December 2006 issue of Academe, “Shared Governance, Junior Faculty, and HBCUs,” further convinced me that she had stumbled upon an important truth—at least for Medgar Evers, but probably much more broadly—related to the “president-centric” nature of many black institutions.

What’s casually cast aside?

Times Higher Education
May 21st, 2015

Academic freedom tends to be discussed in the context of some specific threat or incident: the circumstances of a particular disciplinary case, perhaps, or a policy shift suggesting that the government aims to exert undue influence over universities and their staff.
As was recently argued in these pages by Martyn Hammersley, emeritus professor of educational and social research at the Open University, it is in essence about two things: the autonomy of academics within their institutions, and the independence of universities themselves.
In the US, where academic freedom is arguably held even more dear as a result of the almost sacred role of tenure track, discussion often focuses on similar threats and challenges.

College Admissions, Frozen in Time

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015


Let’s consider, just for a minute, the toad. Go on, imagine one sitting right there, all lumpy and leathery-skinned. To understand the college-admissions process, flawed and often frustrating, it helps to ponder this awkward amphibian.
Don’t just take my word for it, take B. Alden Thresher’s. In his 1966 book, College Admissions and the Public Interest, the longtime director of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argued that predicting which students will succeed is imprecise work. After all, colleges know only so much about a given applicant’s potential. Mr. Thresher summed up the profession’s limitations in a sentence: "One cannot tell by looking at a toad how far he will jump."

The Professor Is in: I Know What You Need to Do This Summer

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015




What should I do over the summer to prepare for the academic job market in the fall?
Ideally, you should have started preparations in the spring if you plan to go on the job market this fall. So you’ll have to play a bit of catchup. In the next few months, you should aim to solidify all of the elements of your record that you can. That includes your dissertation if you are still A.B.D., as well as your publications, teaching, conferences, and references. Perhaps you might even do some initial research toward new projects.
If you are applying as an A.B.D. candidate, you will want to enter the academic job market this fall with your dissertation well on the way to completion, and with a defense date scheduled. You must be able to show that you will — beyond the shadow of a doubt — complete, defend, and deposit the dissertation by next spring. A more than half-written manuscript and a defense date will go far in establishing your credibility. So use these months to lay the groundwork for that outcome.

What I'm Reading: 'Designing the New American University'

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015


There are two kinds of books about higher education. The first kind offer prescriptions for the various ills facing colleges and universities. In that genre, it is common to not only bash the current system but to recommend that it be swept aside and replaced by something else entirely. Then there are books by college presidents. With few exceptions — William Bowen’s prodigious bibliography comes to mind — these tend to be of the valedictory and memoir variety.
It is rare that a sitting president publishes a statement of intent, but that’s exactly what Arizona State University’s president, Michael M. Crow, and his collaborator, the historian William B. Dabars, have done in Designing the New American University. Like Clark Kerr’s The Uses of the University, which defined American research universities for the last half of the 20th century, it is a road map for the future.

Adjunct Sues Broward Over Alleged Retaliation

Inside Higher Ed
May 26th, 2015

Evan Rowe, an adjunct at Broward College, has sued the college in federal court, charging that his free speech and other rights were denied when he was not given courses after he published articles criticizing the college's treatment of adjuncts, Broward New Times reported. The articles, such as this one, also appeared in New Times. The lawsuit notes a pattern in which publication was followed by denying Rowe sections to teach. A Broward spokeswoman said that the college does not comment on pending litigation.

How Not to Lose Control of a Class

Inside Higher Ed
May 26th, 2015


It might be every professor’s worst nightmare: losing control of a class with no hope of getting it back on track. That appears to be what happened this semester at Texas A&M University at Galveston, where a management instructor threatened to fail the entire class for poor behavior before the university intervened. The professor described a class full of students who wouldn't do the work, who weren't performing according to his expectations and who were consistently rude to him.
The specific case certainly appears to be an outlier, and questions remain about how and why the situation got so extreme. It nevertheless captured the attention of fellow faculty members, probably because many have struggled at one point or another with classroom management.

Death Denial

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 22nd, 2015

In October 1984, a young Skidmore College professor, Sheldon Solomon, traveled to a Utah ski lodge to introduce what would become a major theory of social psychology. The setting was a conference of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, a prestigious professional organization. Solomon’s theory explained that people embrace cultural worldviews and strive for self-esteem largely to cope with the fear of death. The reception he got was as frosty as the snow piled up outside.
The crowd’s unease was apparent as he began talking about thinkers who had influenced him, such as Marx, Kierkegaard, and Freud. At least half the audience disappeared before Solomon could lay out the full theory, recalls Jeff Greenberg, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who had developed the ideas with Solomon and was watching the talk from the back of the room. Greenberg saw some well-known psychologists physically shaking. "It was like a visceral negative reaction to what Sheldon was conveying," he says.

Bullish on 2040

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015


Economists tend to be overly optimistic about growth and prosperity, while education experts tend toward unjustified pessimism. There’s no question that more and more people are arguing that, even if American higher education has had a golden age, by 2040 it will be long gone.
What will the future really look like?
There is a longstanding tradition of making bold, and spectacularly mistaken, predictions about American higher education. So it is with caution and modesty that we hazard a few of our own.

Facing the Dreaded End-of-Term Question

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015


It’s the second-to-last week of classes, and as I weave my way through the clusters of students in the hallway, I am steeling myself against the question that I know is coming.
I’m focused on not colliding with students; I’m focused on what I’m going to do when I get into the classroom. I’m going to answer the question before anyone has the opportunity to ask it.
I’ve only just walked in, we’re not even on class time yet, when one of my students blurts out Part 1. The question almost always comes in two parts.
"So we don’t have a final in this class, right?"
I take a deep breath. I put my things down on the desk. I’m not going to snap. "That is correct. We do not have a final exam in this class."

Judge Orders Texas Tech to Restore Professor’s Post

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 23rd, 2015


Texas Tech University must restore the teaching responsibilities of a professor who says his anti-tenure views cost him a deanship and an honorary-professor title, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports. James C. Wetherbe had accused the university’s former provost, Robert Smith, of reducing his teaching load and failing to award him the Paul Whitfield Horn Professorship because of his outspoken views against tenure. Judge Ruben Reyes, of the 72nd District Court, ordered Texas Tech officials to award Mr. Wetherbe the Horn professorship at the Rawls College of Business. The ruling, on Wednesday, was a default judgment after lawyers with the Texas attorney general’s office, who represented Tech in court, failed to meet a deadline. A Texas Tech spokesman said he was confident the default judgment would not stand; lawyers with the attorney general’s office on Friday filed a motion to dismiss it.

Faculty Union Is Among Critics of Deal to Help Run Colleges in Saudi Arabia

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015

A community-college district in California is drawing fire from several sides for its deal to help run two technical colleges in Saudi Arabia, the Los Angeles Times reports. The critics charge that, among other things, the Rancho Santiago Community College District violated a state open-meetings law in arranging the deal and, through its presence in the Middle Eastern nation, is tacitly supporting the anti-democratic policies of the Saudi government.
Last year the district won a $105-million contract to consult and help train faculty members at the two technical colleges. The deal has not yet been made final.

Gene Scientists' Quest for Cadaver Tissue Faces Ethical Hurdles

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015

It’s one of the toughest conversations imaginable: approaching a grieving family in a hospital and asking for permission to take dozens of tissues for research from a loved one who has died unexpectedly.
During the last five years, that has been the task of "tissue requesters" operating on behalf of the Genotype-­Tissue Expression (GTEx) project, a $100-million effort organized by the National Institutes of Health. With the research — the first wave of which was published this month — scientists hope to illuminate the roles played by DNA variants in regulating the expression of genes. The researchers want to know how gene expression works in different parts of the same person’s body, and also in similar tissues across multiple individuals.

What it Takes to Make the Class

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 26th, 2015


In the popular imagination, admissions is about selection. But for many colleges, it’s really about recruitment. Most of the work involves encouraging potential students to apply, and admitted ones to enroll. To illustrate how that works, the University of Evansville, a private institution in Indiana, shared the numbers of potential students it connected with at each stage of the admissions process that brought in its 2014 freshman class.

Friday, May 22, 2015

This Is What Happens When You Slash Funding for Public Universities

The Nation
May 19th, 2015


On February 25, three University of Arizona graduate students—Kyle Blessinger, Zach Brooks, and Sarah Ann Meggison—had a meeting with Kelli Ward, a Republican state senator in Arizona. They were there to lobby against massive new cuts to state spending on higher education; the number being thrown around was $75 million. Under the state constitution, attending the university is supposed to be as “nearly free as possible,” but due to state budget cuts, tuition had increased more than 70 percent between 2008 and 2013 for in-state students—the severest hike in the country. Now it was poised to go up even more, while funds for graduate instructors were likely to be squeezed even further.



McNay Addresses Senate Higher Ed Subcommittee; Contact Your State Senator

OC-AAUP
May 22nd, 2015

 
On Wednesday, May 20, OCAAUP President John McNay delivered testimony to the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee.

McNay expressed that faculty have grown weary of being scapegoated for driving up costs at Ohio's public colleges and universities. 

He told legislators that less than 24 percent of institutional operating budgets is spent on professors' salary and benefits, also known as "instructional compensation," and that instructional compensation actually has declined by over 4 percent over the last 10 years when adjusted for inflation.

"As college costs have continued to rise, faculty compensation has dipped below inflationary levels. Clearly, other factors need to be examined," he stated.