Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Supreme Court to Weigh Race in College Admissions

New York Times
June 30th, 2015


The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to take a second look at the use of race in admissions decisions by the University of Texas at Austin, reviving a potent challenge to affirmative action in higher education.
The move, which supporters of race-conscious admissions programs called baffling and ominous, signaled that the court may limit or even end such affirmative action. The advocates speculated that the court’s most conservative members had cast the four votes needed to grant review of the case in the hope that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy would supply the fifth vote to strike down the Texas admissions plan.
Justice Kennedy has never voted to uphold an affirmative action program.

Read more here

The Initiation

Inside Higher Ed
June 20th, 2015

In the summer of 1996, I spent two weeks driving around Greece with my girlfriend and my undergraduate adviser. We argued all the time: me and my girlfriend; me and my adviser; my girlfriend and my adviser. One stop was particularly memorable for its unenjoyableness. We spent a day and a night at Monemvasia, a fortified Crusader town on a massive rock off the coast. The whole time, my adviser berated me to learn more about the extensive history of the place and turned his nose up at my girlfriend, who wanted to find a nightclub on the island.
To be fair, my adviser was not actually on the trip. He was in my head, or rather, I had internalized him. I couldn’t have a conversation without hearing him remark on the substance (or lack thereof) of my comments. He haunted my relationships and my thoughts. I carried him everywhere, like Anchises on my shoulders.

International Grad Student Apps Increase

Inside Higher Ed
June 30th, 2015


Foreign students' applications to American graduate schools climbed by 2 percent this year, driven in part by continued growth in applications from India, according to survey results released today by the Council of Graduate Schools.
Applications from India increased by 12 percent over the previous year, the third straight year of such double-digit increases.
Meanwhile, the number of applications from China continued its modest decline -- another trend that's three years running -- dropping by 2 percent. These two country-specific trends -- China down, India up -- should be understood against the fact these two countries are the two largest sources of international students at U.S. graduate schools by far, together accounting for about 67 percent of all international applications received.

Supreme Court to Consider Case That Could Upend Unions at Public Colleges

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 30th, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to take a case that could upend how unions are financed at public colleges. The New York Times reports that the court will hear arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which was brought by public-school teachers in California who argue that being forced to pay union fees violates their First Amendment rights.
Public employees in states without right-to-work laws can be required to pay fees to unions that represent them but that they may not want to be associated with. The plaintiffs in the Friedrichs case, No. 14-915, are seeking to have the 1977 Supreme Court decision that allowed such fees, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, overturned.

In Defense of Ethnography

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 26th, 2015

Controversy over the sociologist Alice Goffman’s On the Run, a study of young people on the margins of society, has put ethnography on trial. Lost in the accusations and rebuttals, I fear, is the reality that ethnography is one tool among many but too valuable to dismiss or ignore. Like other methodologies, it has strengths and weaknesses, but it complements other approaches in crucial ways.
Almost two decades ago, I finished a visual ethnography of a small police department in a suburb of Minneapolis. Over several years, I had examined how media-driven stereotypes of what it was to be a "cop" affected officers’ work. I spent hundreds of hours, mostly on the "dog" shift, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., riding along in squad cars, attending roll calls, and generally hanging out, observing, and photographing the police. I eventually "joined" the department as a reserve officer — lighter-blue uniform, no gun. My study, including some of the pictures I took, was published as a book.

Professor Says Facebook Can Help Informal Learning

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 20th, 2015

Who says Facebook is always a distraction? A new study suggests that if engaged in online debate, college students can use the popular social network to learn and develop a variety of skills.
In a paper released on Monday, Christine Greenhow, an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, argues that using informal social-media settings to carry on debates about science can help students refine their argumentative skills, increase their scientific literacy, and supplement learning in the classroom. Past studies have shown that informal settings, like conversations with friends, can facilitate learning, but according to Ms. Greenhow, very little has been studied about informal online contexts and social networks, like Facebook applications.

Oregon Teacher Union Chief Speaks Out

Jefferson Public Radio
June 30th, 2015

We can't seem to go a week without some news about standardized testing.
It's the accepted way to measure the progress of students. 
But when student progress is extrapolated to measure teacher quality, that's when the National Education Association and its state affiliates get their backs up.
The national Representative Assembly this week includes Oregon Education Association President Hanna Vaandering. 
She joins us with a discussion of testing and other hot conference topics. 

Supreme Court to hear case threatening public employee unions

USA Today
June 30th, 2015

The Supreme Court signaled Tuesday that it may be prepared to strike down laws forcing public employees to pay union dues, posing a major threat to organized labor.
The justices agreed to hear a California case next fall challenging the requirement that teachers contribute to unions, even if they don't join them or agree with their positions on issues.
Two lower courts upheld that arrangement, but the high court in recent years has been hostile to the so-called "agency shop" rules. In two prior cases, Justice Samuel Alito has written majority opinions scaling back on the requirement.
Under the high court's 1977 precedent, unions largely have been allowed to collect dues from all private or public employees they represent. Those who object don't have to contribute to political or lobbying activities, but they must chip in for the unions' efforts in fighting for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

Supreme Court to Weigh Dispute Over Union Fees

New York Times
June 30th, 2015


The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a challenge to the way public-sector unions finance their operations. Union officials said a ruling against them would deal a blow to organized labor.
The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, was brought by California teachers who said being compelled to pay union fees to subsidize activities they disagreed with violated their First Amendment rights.
Limiting the power of public unions has been a long sought goal of conservative groups, and they welcomed Tuesday’s development.
“The question of whether teachers and other government employees can be required to subsidize the speech of a union they do not support as a condition of working for their own government is now squarely before the court,” Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said in a statement.

Read more here

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Backup Plan

Inside Higher Ed
June 29th, 2015

When writing a grant or fellowship application, prudent researchers prepare for unexpected challenges by outlining alternative means to address their research questions. Ph.D.s would never invest precious grant money and time in a project whose success is tied to the implementation of a single research method. Nor should they invest in a job search that is too narrow. Although there are a plethora of career options for Ph.D.s, landing the first job after graduate school or postdoc training is still difficult.
Considering multiple options is simply pragmatic since a narrow job search can lead to unfortunate consequences including training that drags on indefinitely, reactionary career decisions and even a period of unemployment. If you find that your job search does not have a serious backup plan, there are several easy steps that you can take to create one. Having a backup plan will increase your chances of finding a fulfilling job after graduate school or postdoc training.

College Accreditors Weigh Aggressive Steps

Wall Street Journal
June 29th, 2015

College accreditors are vigorously debating how they can more aggressively examine low-performing schools amid increasing scrutiny into whether colleges are providing enough value.
Judith Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, said there was an “increased level of urgency in the national dialogue about the public’s confidence in accreditation,” in light of hard-hitting questions posed at a Senate hearing last week and the publication of an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.
Accreditation is a nongovernmental process set up by the nation’s colleges and universities, but it is required for a school to receive a share of the $130 billion in federal loans and grants that students receive each year.
The Journal’s report examined how accreditors rarely revoke membership of low-performing colleges, and give strong reviews to schools with graduation percentage rates in the teens and single digits.
Accreditors say their assessments are aimed at helping schools improve, rather than at weeding out schools with low graduation rates or high student-loan default rates.

Social media causes academic freedom concern

Daily Chronicle
June 26th, 2015


A wider audience for public speech has created vulnerabilities – and liabilities – for all involved. Social media is somewhat altering discourse on free speech, said Gunkel, a Northern Illinois University communications professor and author of numerous books and articles about culture, new media and ethics. “The clearer we can be upfront the better,” he said. “The real problem is that we are operating in a vacuum and making it up after the fact.”
As corporations and colleges try to manage their reputations, employees may feel the need to censor themselves – lest they find themselves out of a job. It gets more complicated when you add the concept of academic and intellectual freedom into the mix, Gunkel said.
Universities in particular have to be cautious when considering social media policy, specifically to protect those intellectual freedoms, Gunkel said.

Congress's Plans for NIH, Education

Inside Higher Ed
June 29th, 2015


Both congressional appropriations committees approved legislation last week that would set spending levels for the nation's health, education and workforce programs, setting up likely showdowns with the Obama administration over budgets for some programs and policy initiatives that congressional Republicans want to stop.
The policy battles could trump any deliberations over the spending levels, as the Obama administration is likely to go to the mat over its efforts -- now backed by two federal courts -- to require vocational programs at for-profit and other colleges to prove that they provide "gainful employment" to their graduates.
The spending bills passed by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees last week would block the gainful employment rule and a series of other regulatory efforts that the Obama Education Department has undertaken, but the administration has invested so much time and energy in the gainful rule that it is almost certain to fight any attempt to undermine it.

Still Out of a Job

Inside Higher Ed
June 29th, 2015


The board of Northwest Nazarene University announced Friday that it is standing behind a decision to end the job of a theologian whom students, former students and colleagues view as a model teacher and an important thinker.
Officially the elimination of Thomas Jay Oord's job was a layoff that the university said was necessary for financial reasons. But professors and others doubt that reason, and say that universities don't generally eliminate the jobs of their best known and most loved faculty members -- especially those with tenure -- without faculty consultation and without sound evidence of financial distress. Many of Oord's supporters believe his job was eliminated because his views on evolution clash with those of some Nazarene traditionalists. And for many, his case has raised concerns about the state of academic freedom at some religious institutions.

The Supreme Court Ruling and Christian Colleges

Inside Higher Ed
June 29th, 2015


Friday's Supreme Court decision that states must authorize and recognize gay and lesbian marriages could create major legal challenges for religious colleges -- primarily evangelical Christian colleges that bar same-sex relationships among students and faculty members. Or the decision may not create much of a legal challenge at all. Or it may create challenges, but not soon.
Legal experts are divided. But the question of whether same-sex marriage as a national right changes the legal status of Christian colleges is no longer just theoretical.

A Degree of Uncommon Success

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 29th, 2015

One of the problems with the master’s degree in the arts and sciences has always been its lack of identity and concrete purpose. It’s an award on the way to a doctorate, but it’s also a bauble that gets handed out as a consolation to those who leave the Ph.D. path. It’s a credential to teach school, and for employers who want to make it easier to filter a field of job applicants.
It’s also a professional course of training in certain fields. In engineering, for example, the meaning of the master’s degree has no ambiguity at all. It’s a qualification that signifies an expected level of expertise and training. The master’s in engineering is a professionalized degree.

Laid-Off Professor Is Reinstated at Northwest Nazarene U., but With Limits

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 29th, 2015

Thomas Jay Oord, a theology professor who was laid off this spring in a controversial move by Northwest Nazarene University’s president, will be reinstated, but only to a part-time position that lasts for no more than three years, according to a statement issued on Friday by the Christian institution’s Board of Trustees.
The Idaho Press-Tribune reported that the board endorsed the actions taken by the university’s president at the time, David Alexander, to repair its finances. His announcement of layoffs and budgetary retrenchment in March drew fire because, critics said, Mr. Oord, a well-liked professor, had been singled out over theological differences with the university.

Why Is It So Hard to Kill a College?

The Chronicle of Higher Education 
June 29th, 2015

Hundreds of colleges in the United States live on the financial margins. Typically small and private, they struggle to pay bills, recruit students, and raise money. Yet few of them fail.
As Sweet Briar College’s projected demise and unexpected revival illustrate, small colleges are a resilient bunch. There are about 1,600 private, nonprofit four-year colleges in the United States, but only a handful close each year. In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available from the National Center for Education Statistics, just two of those institutions shut down.

As College of Charleston’s President Speaks on Confederate Flag, Faculty Question His Timing and Message

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 26th, 2015

On Friday the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, a South Carolina state senator who was one of nine black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killed by a young white man during a prayer meeting, was buried. His funeral took place just two blocks away from the church, at the College of Charleston, where one of Mr. Pinckney’s friends and former colleagues, Glenn F. McConnell, is the president.
Two days earlier, thousands of mourners watched Mr. Pinckney’s coffin arrive on a horse-drawn military carriage, passing by a controversial Confederate battle flag that had inspired his alleged killer’s racial hatred.
Mr. McConnell has his own history with that flag. He was the chief architect of a compromise in 2000 that took the flag off the dome of the state’s Capitol and moved it next to a Confederate war memorial on the State House grounds. He is also a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and as a Civil War re-enactor he has been photographed wearing a Confederate uniform with black people posing as slaves.

What the Landmark Ruling on Gay Marriage Means for Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 26th, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. What will the effect be on higher education?
For most colleges, not much.
But for others — in particular, Christian colleges — the ruling beckons toward an uncertain future. Some people at Christian colleges worry that they might lose federal benefits if they don’t change their own policies on same-sex relationships and marriages.
Since colleges have been dealing with a "patchwork of laws across states," the ruling will probably make it easier for institutions to support gay students and professors, said Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at the Columbia University Law School, which filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Watered-Down Gen Ed for Engineers?

Inside Higher Ed
June 26th, 2015


What have long set U.S.-trained engineers apart from their global peers -- at least in the minds of lots of employers -- are their softer skills. While universities in many other countries focus almost entirely on technical mastery, American engineering programs also stress the development of additional competencies, such as critical thinking, writing and the ability to work across disciplines and in diverse settings.
And that hasn’t been an accident. For years, the major undergraduate and master's-level engineering program accreditor, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET, has made these outcomes part of its standards. So proposed changes designed to streamline those standards are worrying some faculty members, who say they’ll inevitably narrow American engineers’ skills set -- and therefore take away their competitive edge. But ABET argues that the changes will benefit the discipline over all, by making less opaque the process of assessing some of these outcomes and by encouraging innovation in teaching.

Letter From the President

Inside Higher Ed
June 26th, 2015


The announcement of the closing of Marian Court College, with faculty disclaimers (“didn’t realize it was as dire as it was,” and the president’s dreaming (“hopeful the college would remain open”), should pull us back to the realities that have been set out very clearly for years -- by the Bain Report, by Clayton Christensen, by Thomas Frey, by Nathan Harden, by dozens of others:
Many, many colleges are working with a business model that simply cannot sustain them, and tinkering around the edges with defective enrollment management software, combined majors, a part-time (as yet unaccredited) M.B.A., or Saturday classes is almost a distraction from the main challenges of shrinking demographics, low-cost online instruction and skills validation, and the imminent tightening of government money that has been pouring into the mix.

Scrutiny for Campuses in China

Inside Higher Ed
June 26th, 2015


Leaders of universities with partnerships or campuses in China attempted to assuage the fears of a congressman about academic freedom in the country, saying that their institutions had not seen any restrictions.
The hearing was lead by Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who chairs the subcommittee on Africa, global health, global human rights and international organizations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and who has chaired many hearings related to China and human rights in the country, including academic freedom. In the past, Smith has expressed skepticism about the situation and how it related to officials both abroad and in the U.S., and held the hearing to return to the issue, asking among other things whether China's one-child-per-couple policy is enforced on the American campuses.

Monks Seek Shared Governance

Inside Higher Ed
June 26th, 2015


Monks are suing trustees at Benedictine University in Illinois for shutting their religious order, which founded the institution 128 years ago, out of major decisions.
The monks want power to approve the institution’s next president and say the Board of Trustees has been unwilling to disclose possible conflicts of interest, despite repeated requests by the monks to do so and, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this week, mandates in Benedictine’s bylaws that require disclosure.
Benedictine is a Roman Catholic university that enrolls around 6,500 students and is 30 miles outside Chicago.
Father Austin Murphy, the abbot of St. Procopius Abbey, which is part of the order that founded Benedictine in 1887, says a group of seven members, comprised of Benedictine monks from the Abbey, is given leadership powers in the university’s bylaws that are being denied by the university and its trustees.

Louisiana State’s Firing of Salty Professor Renews Worries About Faculty Rights

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 26th, 2015

Louisiana State University has fired a tenured professor on its Baton Rouge campus against the advice of a faculty panel, raising new questions about the administration’s respect for shared governance and faculty rights.
The Louisiana State University system’s Board of Supervisors voted last week to uphold the firing of Teresa Buchanan, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction, based on accusations she had engaged in sexual harassment and violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.
F. King Alexander, the system’s president, had called for Ms. Buchanan’s dismissal even though a faculty panel that he had appointed to hear her case concluded that the ADA charges against her were unsubstantiated and that she did not deserve to lose her job over the sexual-harassment charges. The latter allegations stemmed mainly from complaints that she had used obscene language in front of students and had spoken disparagingly to them about the sex lives of married people at a time when she was going through a divorce.

Lessons From the Education Department’s Ratings Reversal

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 26th, 2015

Now that the U.S. Department of Education has decided to ditch the ratings part of its college-ratings system in favor of a customizable, consumer-focused website, plenty of big questions remain.
What’s the legacy of the nearly two-year effort? What lessons were learned? What opportunities were lost?
We asked several ratings watchers for their views on the department’s change of course. Here’s some of what we heard.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

University Employees Demand Respect, Decent Pay

AFSCME
June 23rd, 2015


Nearly 4,000 AFSCME and Teamsters members — front-line workers at the University of Minnesota — are speaking up about grossly unequal pay as they negotiate a new contract with the university.
While more than 3,000 university employees earn at least $100,000 a year, and basketball coach Richard Pitino was recently awarded a $400,000 raise, there are more than 400 university workers who make less than $15 an hour.
"The University likes to pit students against staff. They say if they give our underpaid workers a raise then they'll have to raise tuition," said Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME Local 3800 (Council 5). "We see that as a false choice. The University of Minnesota has more than 600 administrators who make at least $100,000 a year. This bloated and growing section of middle-management could easily be trimmed so the workers who keep the U of M running can make ends meet."

Supreme Court Allows Nationwide Health Care Subsidies

New York Times
June 25th, 2015


The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law allows the federal government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance, a sweeping vindication that endorsed the larger purpose of Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017, and has a greater chance of becoming an enduring part of America’s social safety net.
For the second time in three years, the law survived an encounter with the Supreme Court. But the court’s tone was different this time. The first decision, in 2012, was fractured and grudging, while Thursday’s ruling was more assertive.

Read more here

A Conservative Case for Tenure

Acadame Blog
June 2015

It is often claimed that supporters of academic freedom and tenure, like the AAUP, are simply left-wing or liberal professors seeking to protect their own positions and privilege their own views.  Those of us who know better realize how ridiculous this argument can be, but now, in the wake of Scott Walker’s attack on tenure in the University of Wisconsin system, come two self-described conservative-libertarians who make a strong case for academic freedom and tenure as a necessary protection for faculty members on the Right.   Donald Downs is professor of political science at University of Wisconsin-Madison and John Sharpless is professor of history at Madison as well as a former Republican candidate for Congress.  In a piece published yesterday on p0litico.com they argue that “Scott Walker’s Latest Crusade Will Hurt Conservatives Like Us.”
I don’t agree with everything they write — hardly a surprise given that my own politics lean decidedly in the opposite direction from theirs — but the case they make is compelling and important and should give politicians like Walker pause.  Indeed, many of the examples they offer of threats to free expression and academic freedom have been of great concern to the AAUP as well.  I’m thinking here of the fight against overly restrictive “speech codes” and so-called “trigger warnings.”  The Downs-Sharpless article illustrates well how academic freedom, correctly understood, must protect scholars from all points along the political spectrum.  I encourage you to read the full article, but below are a number of choice excerpts.  Let’s hope the so-called “conservatives” in the Wisconsin Legislature are paying attention.

The high cost of higher education

Illinois Times
June 25th, 2015

The Illinois Senate met June 16 to discuss the cost of college in Illinois in anticipation of sending the higher education funding bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who included a 30 percent cut to colleges and universities in his proposed budget – a larger cut than any other department received. Senators heard testimony from students, faculty and administrators of the higher education and student aid systems.

John Patterson, communications director for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the aim of the hearing was making sure the governor understood the importance of the college funding bill they would soon be sending him.

Much of the hearing was devoted to demonstrating the impact higher education funding and in particular the Monetary Assistance Program grants had on Illinoisans’ ability to afford a college education.

Home Ownership, Uberification, and Faculty Employment

Inside Higher Ed
June 25th, 2015


In one week, my family will no longer be homeowners. We are downsizing.


With daughter #1 leaving the nest this year, and daughter #2 all set to move to your campus in 2017, our family's housing requirements have evolved.  


In our move from homeowners to renters ,we are adding our single data point to a larger national trend. Household homeownership rates have fallen from a peak of 69 percent in 2004 to below 64 percent today.  


In More Americans Are Renting, and Paying More, as Homeownership Falls, the NYTimes reports this shift from owning to renting as a worrying trend. Referencing the growing  costs of renting (up 3.2 percent lasty yea), as rental supply has not kept up with the demand, the Times worries that the decline in homeownership has left, “millions of Americans unwillingly stuck in rental housing”.  

Adjunct Retirement Insecurity

Inside Higher Ed
June 25th, 2015

Just 19 percent of adjunct faculty members say they’re very confident they’ll have enough money for retirement, while another 49 percent say they’re somewhat confident at best. Nearly one-third of adjuncts (31 percent) say they’re not confident they’ll be financially able to retire at all.
Those are the findings of a new report from TIAA-CREF Institute, the research arm of TIAA-CREF, which is a major provider of financial services and retirement planning to colleges and universities.
The results -- based on a national survey of some 500 part-time and full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members -- are hardly surprising. That is, many adjuncts report that their relatively low pay makes it hard to make ends meet at the end of the month, let alone put money away for retirement. But the data nevertheless shed new light on a perhaps neglected subtopic of the national debate over adjunct working conditions. And while some advocates for adjuncts say that the reality for many is worse than what this study found, they hope TIAA-CREF’s attention will jump-start overdue conversations.

How Unions Improve the Lives of Every Worker

Huffington Post
June 23rd, 2015

It's well established that union members earn substantially more than nonunion workers ($207 more a week), and are more likely to have health care coverage and solid pensions. What is less well known are the advantages that unions provide for all workers, not just those who belong to unions.
It's a fact: We've been creating pathways to the middle class for American workers for more than a century. Not only in the higher pay that all workers get - whether they're union or not - in areas where unions are strong. But also in rights and protections that we fought to have enshrined in law.
On June 25, we celebrate the 77th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a landmark law signed by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt. It introduced the eight-hour day, the 40-hour week, and time-and-a-half payment for overtime work beyond 40 hours. It also established a national minimum wage and outlawed oppressive child labor.

Surviving the Post-Dissertation Slump

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 25th, 2015



“Post-dissertation stress disorder” and “post-dissertation depression” are real things. A friend introduced those terms to me when I was trying to find an explanation for my lack of productivity after finishing my Ph.D. Turns out, I wasn't alone in experiencing a slump. As one blogger wrote of post-dissertation life: “If you are work- and project-driven, the adjustment takes time.”
People who successfully complete dissertations are a disciplined cross section of the population. We are capable of working independently, sticking to self-imposed deadlines, and focusing on the big picture. We may have thrown ourselves into the study of best writing practices, kept a strict schedule, formed writing accountability groups, and workshopped parts of our dissertation during the process. We are not people who have trouble staying on task and self-motivating.
So when the blues hit – when well-meaning refrains of “Congratulations, Doctor!” result in a cringe rather than a smile – what is going on?

The New York Public Library Wars

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 24th, 2015

Scholars who use the New York Public Library are boiling with frustration. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2014 the library, under pressure from a coalition that included four senior scholars, abandoned its controversial Central Library Plan, which entailed gutting the stacks at the 42nd Street Library and selling the popular Mid-Manhattan Library across the street. But the situation hasn’t turned out how many critics had hoped.
Paula Glatzer, an independent Shakespeare scholar, has been engaged in research at the library since 1963 and has recently used the collections for her contribution to the new Variorum Shakespeare editions, published by the Modern Language Association. On January 15 she sent a letter to Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president: "Sadly, I have had to tell my Variorum colleagues that the NYPL is over … for now." Many books are stored off-site, some mislabeled as on-site; others have been lost or discarded, she wrote. "I requested a series. It couldn’t be found. I said it was hard to lose 21 volumes. A librarian overheard me and offered to look. He later emailed. All 21 volumes were indeed missing."

Education Department Now Plans a College-Rating System Minus the Ratings

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 25th, 2015

The U.S. Department of Education has retreated from its controversial plan to create a giant college-ratings system, top officials revealed on Wednesday. Instead, by late summer the department is now promising to produce a customizable, consumer-oriented website that won’t include any evaluations of colleges but will contain what one official described as "more data than ever before." In effect, it will be a ratings system without any ratings.
The as-yet-unnamed new system will allow students and others to compare colleges "on whatever measures are important to them," said Jamienne S. Studley, deputy under secretary of education.
The proposed federal ratings have been contentious since the moment they were announced. In Congress, Republicans in particular have introduced measures to keep the department from spending money to develop them. And many college leaders and higher-education associations have questioned the department’s capacity to devise an accurate or fair system.

Sweet Briar’s Activists Turn to the Sober Work of Governing

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 25th, 2015

In the coming months, the new governing board of Sweet Briar College can expect a crash course in postrevolutionary affairs.
At 5 p.m. on Thursday, a peaceful transfer of power is expected at the financially struggling women’s college north of Lynchburg, Va. A phalanx of activists, who managed to help keep the college open with a shrewd mix of litigation and social-media organizing, will be installed as members of Sweet Briar’s newly constituted Board of Directors.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How Unions Are Preparing for Public Sector Right-to-Work Threat

Labor Notes
June 24th, 2015



In late June the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a lawsuit, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, that could make the whole public sector “right to work.”
The court would determine whether public sector unions could continue to collect so-called “fair share” or “agency” fees.
If CTA loses, public employees across the country could opt out of membership and pay nothing for the union protections they enjoy. Union budgets—and strength—would be further diminished.
Public sector unions are playing defense. They need a plan to convince employees to join (or stay in) the union. But they’re operating in a difficult terrain, after years of cuts and concessions.

In late June the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a lawsuit, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, that could make the whole public sector “right to work.”
The court would determine whether public sector unions could continue to collect so-called “fair share” or “agency” fees.
If CTA loses, public employees across the country could opt out of membership and pay nothing for the union protections they enjoy. Union budgets—and strength—would be further diminished.
Public sector unions are playing defense. They need a plan to convince employees to join (or stay in) the union. But they’re operating in a difficult terrain, after years of cuts and concessions.
- See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2015/06/how-unions-are-preparing-public-sector-right-work-threat#sthash.bkmDIGmR.dpuf