Monday, August 31, 2015

Academics Who Criticize War on Terror Are ‘Lawful Targets,’ West Point Professor Says

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 31st, 2015


Legal scholars who criticize U.S. tactics against terrorists are committing treasonous acts in support of an enemy, and they and the law schools that employ them should be regarded as “lawful targets” for military attacks, a law professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point argued in an article published recently by a student-edited law journal.
The article, “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict / Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column,” appeared in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of the National Security Law Journal, based at George Mason University, in Virginia. The journal has since repudiated the article and apologized to readers for publishing it.

Give Us a Voice in Our Own Future

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 26th, 2015

It’s 4 p.m. at a university medical center. A team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and administrators gathers to discuss best practices for patient care. A voice cuts in: "I felt as if everyone was rushing in the radiology department. That’s when I felt really uncomfortable." The voice belongs to a patient. Her comment shifts the conversation — abstract until now — to a new focus: this particular patient’s experience. Patients’ voices — once marginalized in medicine’s hierarchical structures — now help shape medicine in meaningful ways.
Like patients offered the chance to participate in their own care, graduate students should have a voice in the future of higher education. The point here is not that doctoral students are like patients — most good pedagogies begin by dismantling such an idea — but that participants with little power within an organization can be a vital resource of information and insight.

Criticized by Activists, Professor Gives Grant From Monsanto to Food Pantry

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 31st, 2015

A University of Florida professor who accepted a $25,000 grant from the agriculture giant Monsanto will give the money to a campus food pantry after he was criticized by activists who oppose the use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The Gainesville Sun reports that Kevin Folta, chairman of the university’s horticultural-sciences department, tried to give the money back but Monsanto wouldn’t take it. Calling the pressure he’s felt from anti-GMO activists “terrorism,” Mr. Folta said he didn’t want them to have an excuse to say he was beholden to Monsanto. Mr. Folta received the unrestricted grant to fund a biotech-communications project.

How Literary Fame Happens

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 24th, 2015

The pros and cons of literary fame date back to antiquity. Cicero thought superior writers, or their souls, would survive death and enter an eternal realm "where eminent and excellent men find their true reward." Ovid assured his wife that she would "live for all time in my song." Horace, proud of his reputation as a lyric poet, bragged that he was "pointed out by passers-by." His friend Virgil, however — if we trust Suetonius — ducked into buildings to avoid fans.
Despite Virgil’s presumed ambivalence, the notion that all literary writers crave fame — the contemporary kind, the immortal kind, or both — remains a cultural cliché. It’s one that H.J. Jackson, professor emerita at the University of Toronto and distinguished scholar of 18th-century and Romantic British literature, places at the heart of Those Who Write for Immortality, her spirited and always enlightening meditation on literary fame that cites the pros and cons above.

The Results of the Reproducibility Project Are In. They’re Not Good.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 28th, 2015

A decade ago, John P.A. Ioannidis published a provocative and much-discussed paper arguing that most published research findings are false. It’s starting to look like he was right.
The results of the Reproducibility Project are in, and the news is not good. The goal of the project was to attempt to replicate findings in 100 studies from three leading psychology journals published in the year 2008. The very ambitious endeavor, led by Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and executive director of the Center for Open Science, brought together more than 270 researchers who tried to follow the same methods as the original researchers — in essence, double-checking their work by painstakingly re-creating it.

Is Nuance Overrated?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 31st, 2015

Nuance is revered in higher education. That’s especially true in sociology, where scholars spend their lives digging into the fine grain of human social behavior, often finding even finer grain underneath.
Which is why it came as such a surprise — and perhaps a relief — when Kieran Healy, an associate professor of sociology at Duke University, last week brought a blunt message to the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting: "Fuck Nuance."
That is the title of a paper he presented at the conference and later uploaded to his website. "Seriously, fuck it," explains the paper’s abstract.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Labor Board Says Contractors’ Workers Can Bargain With Parent Company

New York Times
August 27th, 2015


The National Labor Relations Board in Washington on Thursday made it substantially easier for unions to bargain for higher wages and benefits, opening the door for organized workers at fast-food chains and other franchises to negotiate with corporations like McDonald’s and Yum Brands, rather than with individual restaurants, where they might have a harder time achieving their goals.
“This is about, if employees decide they want to bargain collectively, who can be required to come to the bargaining table to have negotiations that are meaningful,” said Wilma B. Liebman, a former N.L.R.B. chairwoman who wrote a crucial dissent in a 2002 case on the subject.

Read more here

Local NLRB: Manhattan Adjuncts May Tally Union Vote

Inside Higher Ed
August 27th, 2015


A regional National Labor Relations Board office said Wednesday that adjuncts at Manhattan College may count their union election votes. The ballots have been impounded since 2011, when the Roman Catholic college objected to NLRB jurisdiction over its campus, citing its religious affiliation. The case was pending before the NLRB in Washington until earlier this year, when the board sent the Manhattan adjunct union case and a handful of others involving would-be adjunct unions at religious colleges back to their regional NLRB offices for re-evaluation based on the recent Pacific Lutheran University decision. In that case, the NLRB said that adjuncts who wanted to form a Service Employees International Union-affiliated collective bargaining unit could do so, because their service to the institution was not sufficiently religious in nature to conflict with the National Labor Relations Act giving workers the right to organize.

Developing Adjuncts

Inside Higher Ed
August 27th, 2015


Non-tenure-track faculty members are the majority of the teaching force, so what are colleges and universities doing to help them develop as teachers? As for many issues related to adjuncts, there’s a significant data gap on the topic -- in part because adjuncts are diverse and decentralized, making them hard to study. But a new survey out of the University of Louisville seeks to close the gap, and early responses provide insight into how colleges and universities’ teaching and learning centers are supporting their part-time faculty members -- or not.
“We want to know what’s really going on out there,” said Roy Fuller, a part-time faculty fellow at Louisville’s Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning and co-leader of a new survey of teaching and learning center-sponsored professional development opportunities for adjuncts. “This is really important.”

Coping With Cuts

Inside Higher Ed
August 27th, 2015


Four-year public colleges and universities have increased their education-related spending even as overall funding has declined.
The revenue declines are due to lowering state contributions. And while public universities have raised tuition rates to make up for large state funding losses, they have not fully offset the difference with tuition hikes.
Those are the findings from a new analysis the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) has released. The report looked at revenue and spending on a per-student basis at 621 public four-year institutions between 2007 and 2013, including at 193 APLU member universities. The association's members include public research universities, land-grand institutions and state university systems.

‘Free’ vs. ‘Affordable’

Inside Higher Ed
August 27th, 2015

As Democrats on the presidential campaign trail pitch their college affordability plans to voters, they are largely united in their calls for a big boost in federal spending on higher education.
Following a monthslong effort by liberal groups to push “debt-free college” -- and after President Obama’s call for free community college earlier this year -- leading Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both now have proposals that would expand the role of the federal government in higher education.
At the heart of both plans is a new federal-state matching program that would send billions of dollars to states and colleges with the goal of seeing tuition slashed or eliminated at public colleges and universities.

These Videos Could Change How You Think About Teaching

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 27th, 2015

Going to lunch with students changed Michael Wesch’s attitude about teaching, and he is trying to share his personal transformation through a series of videos he hopes will go viral.
Mr. Wesch is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University who has won some of the highest honors for his work in the classroom, including a national professor-of-the-year award in 2008. Yet a couple of years ago, he "got into a funk" about teaching, he says. After many years covering the same material, he was worried things were getting too routine.

At U. of Missouri, Grad Students Rally for Better Conditions, and Faculty Come to Their Aid

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 27th, 2015


At the University of Missouri at Columbia, long simmering concerns over poor working conditions for graduate students have boiled over.
On Wednesday, several hundred graduate students, faculty members, and other protesters marched on the campus to push the administration to raise stipend levels, offer better housing and child-care options, and make other improvements. Rallying under the iconic columns at the university’s Traditions Plaza, the crowd chanted "M-I-Z, shame on you," with many wearing red T-shirts with slogans that supported the graduate students’ cause.
The uproar began earlier this month after university officials told students that because of changes in federal policy they would no longer receive health-insurance subsidies, a message sent out only hours before the benefits were set to expire.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

NLRB Official Orders Count of Adjuncts’ Ballots at Manhattan College

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 26th, 2015

A regional official of the National Labor Relations Board has ordered the tallying of ballots in a union election for Manhattan College’s part-time faculty members. She based her decision on a finding that such instructors do not contribute to the religious environment of the Roman Catholic college enough to be excluded from the board’s jurisdiction for First Amendment reasons.
Karen P. Fernbach, director of the NLRB’s regional office in New York, said in the decision on Wednesday that she had found no evidence that such instructors are expected to advance the college’s religious mission “other than to respect and support it.” As a result, she said, the federal board can assert jurisdiction over the union election there without treading on the college’s religious freedom under the First Amendment.

After Crossing Over

Inside Higher Ed
August 25th, 2015


The "Administrators Are People Too" piece in IHE was quite good on its own terms, but I was struck at how quickly the comments inadvertently confirmed its thesis. There's a level of self-righteous vituperation out there that goes far beyond anything that could be explained by the doings of any one provost or dean. It comes from something much deeper. And for newbies who cross over from faculty, the depth and persistence of that vituperation can be disorienting.
Having crossed that divide myself, and having worked with others who have, a few thoughts to offer newbies.
First, understand that "the administration" is a synecdoche for all external forces, or for anything that compels a professor to do something she'd rather not do. The state cuts funding and enrollment drops, so the college loses revenue; that's largely invisible to many faculty. But you put a cap on travel, and you're the bad guy. That may have been the best move available to you, but many folks won't see the options you had to choose from; they'll only see the one you chose. "But I made the least-bad choice!" may be true, but many won't care. Social psychologists call that the "fundamental attribution error:" we attribute actions to personal characteristics, rather than to the options available at the time.

Tuition Discount Rates Rise Again, Signaling Potential Challenges for Private Colleges

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 25th, 2015

Tuition-discount rates at private, nonprofit colleges have once again hit an all-time high, and appear to be holding down net tuition revenue, according to preliminary estimates from the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ annual survey.
The projected discount rates for 2014 are 48 percent for first-time full-time freshmen and 41.6 percent for all undergraduates.
That’s likely to be the most attention-grabbing finding from the association’s latest Tuition Discounting Study, released on Tuesday. While rising discount rates are often seen as a warning sign for the sector, the other data in the report, based on responses from 411 colleges belonging to the association, may present even grimmer evidence of financial challenges ahead.

Star Scholar Resigns From Northwestern, Saying It Doesn't Respect Academic Freedom

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 26th, 2015

Alice Dreger doesn’t usually pull punches. So it’s no surprise that her resignation letter is more, shall we say, direct than the average two weeks’ notice.
Ms. Dreger resigned this week from Northwestern University, where she was a clinical professor of medical humanities and bioethics, a nontenured gig she’d had for the past decade. In her letter, she writes that when she started at Northwestern, the university vigorously defended her academic freedom. Now, she contends, that’s no longer the case.
What prompted her departure was the fallout over an article by William Peace, who at the time was a visiting professor in the humanities at Syracuse University. Mr. Peace wrote an essay for an issue of the journal, Atrium, that Ms. Dreger guest-edited. The essay is a frank account of a nurse who helped Mr. Peace regain his sexual function after he was paralyzed.

Censored Into Resignation?

Inside Higher Ed
August 26th, 2015


A second faculty member has resigned from Northwestern University over its medical school’s reaction to a provocative article published in a faculty journal.
“It’s so petty -- that’s what I kept saying -- it’s a frickin’ blow job in 1978,” said Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern who gave her notice this week over the alleged ongoing censorship of the university medical humanities faculty journal Atrium, which has suspended publication after a funding cut.
“Of course, it wound up as the Streisand effect, where everybody pays attention,” Dreger added.

Responding to Free

Inside Higher Ed
August 26th, 2015


Community colleges across Tennessee are starting their academic year with many students who may have never thought they would attend an institution of higher learning, but who are taking advantage of the Tennessee Promise program, which offers them a free two-year college education.
Although official numbers won't be available until after the 14th day of enrollment, Tennessee Promise has 22,534 college freshmen as of the last August deadline to remain in the program, said Mike Krause, executive director of Tennessee Promise, the signature program of Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In Open Letter, 41 U. of Illinois Leaders Demand Steven Salaita’s Rehiring

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 24th, 2015

Forty-one campus leaders at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have signed an open letter calling on the institution to hire Steven G. Salaita, whose appointment to a professorship was nixed last year over the scholar’s anti-Israel tweets.
The message comes after a tumultuous few weeks for the campus. Earlier this month, a federal court ruled that the university had broken its contractual obligations with Mr. Salaita by declining to hire him. Then the campus’s chancellor, Phyllis M. Wise, suddenly announced she would step down. Later in the week, it came to light that Ms. Wise and other officials had used personal email accounts to communicate secretly about the Salaita case and other topics, in violation of state open-records law.

Filling Out That McSweeney’s Faculty-Meeting Bingo Ballot? Send It to Us

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 25th, 2015

If, in these hectic first days of the semester, you’ve been spending your time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the funny “First Faculty Meeting of the Year Bingo,” written by Lisa Nikolidakis for McSweeney’s. If you haven’t, go there for a good laugh.
Catharsis achieved. The bingo ballot certainly sounds like an accurate portrayal of higher-ed rhetoric, but is it? There’s only one way to find out: By asking our audience of faculty members to print out the lovely McSweeney’s ballot, take it to their first faculty meeting of the year, mark it up, then send it to us. So that’s what we’re asking you to do. You know, if you want.

Don't Be Snobs, Medievalists

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 24th, 2015

We medievalists have had a pretty good run in academe. We were admitted in the final third of the 19th century after we proved that our subject was complex (read: science-like) enough to warrant professionalized study. European nations’ desire for origins, to use the title phrase in Allen J. Frantzen’s influential book, helped expand the field into the second half of the 20th century. Even in America, although her very existence was predicated on leaving "old" Europe behind, academic work on various medieval heritages thrived to the point where every humanities department boasted at least one medieval specialist.
However, there is now a manifest discrepancy between the large number of students who request that we address their love of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and medieval-themed video and computer games on the one hand, and the decreasing number of medievalists hired to replace retiring colleagues on the other. We are no longer protected by our involvement in preserving European heritages, an involvement often joined up with primordialist, jingoist, and colonialist mentalities discredited in the Western world by the 1970s. And we are as endangered as the rest of our humanities colleagues by the advent of new areas of scholarship, the intimidating popularity of the STEM disciplines, and politically motivated cuts to the liberal arts.

Saida Grundy, Moving Forward

Inside Higher Ed
August 24th, 2015


In May, when Saida Grundy found herself being skewered by the conservative blogosphere, Fox News and others, she made a point not to read or listen to most of the commentary. "I was afraid to Google myself," she said in an interview here. Some friends forwarded material, and Grundy couldn't avoid it altogether, she said, but she didn't want to get consumed by the commentary.
"So many caring people told me that they couldn't imagine what it would be like to start [on the tenure track] immediately after" the onslaught, she said. "But I still really don't fully understand the scope of it."
That she didn't read everything may make it easier for her, she said, to keep the focus where it should be for a new assistant professor, in her case in sociology at Boston University. She's thinking about a book built on her dissertation. She's planning her classes.

Good Neighbors or Conspirators?

Inside Higher Ed
August 24th, 2015


Colleges and universities lure top faculty members away from competitor institutions all the time, and the practice is (generally speaking) entirely legal. But while some relish it, others consider faculty poaching, or actively recruiting faculty members from competitors, bad form and try to avoid doing it regularly -- especially to institutions in the same geographic area.
A new antitrust lawsuit alleges much more than a neighborly understanding between Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, however. The suit, brought against Duke by a medical faculty member there, rather alleges a binding no-hire agreement between the two Research Triangle institutions prevented her from getting a job at Carolina that otherwise would have been hers. The faculty member alleges there are others like her, and she’s proposed a class action.

Administrators Are People, Too

Inside Higher Ed
August 25th, 2015

When I moved into administration after being a professor, a colleague who had made the same move years before told me to brace for the loss of my faculty friends.
Impossible, I argued -- we attended regular Friday cocktail hours, had fought and won battles across campus, supported each other across the thorny paths leading to tenure and promotion. We’d been through it all, and those are precisely the kinds of experiences that make for lasting relationships.
I was wrong. My colleague was right.
About this time in my career, I began noticing for the first time the term “incivility” in higher ed news. Perhaps I noticed it because for the first time, it rang true. Where once I had been respected as a caring teacher and a hardworking colleague, I was now viewed with suspicion.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Advice for Aspiring Academics

Inside Higher Ed
August 20th, 2015


As we approach a new academic year, graduate students, postdocs, adjuncts and others are eyeing the job market warily and wondering, How do I get a tenure-track job? Here are a dozen pieces of advice to help get you to the interview and, with luck, onto the tenure track.
1. Publish everything. A conference paper is half an essay (or chapter). Once you’ve given your presentation, develop a full version and send it out to a peer-reviewed publication. Or if it’s part of a book, write the rest of the chapter.
2. Sustain production. In one respect, building a CV is a simple mathematical equation: if you publish two articles per year, in five years you’ll have 10 articles. The specific annual number is up to you. As a graduate student or young scholar, if you’re able to publish one article per year, that’s truly superb. The larger point is that if you maintain a rate of production, then -- over time -- the numbers add up and your CV grows. When a hiring committee faces a stack of applications, candidates who have more publications stand out.

Faculty Union Seeks to Block Background Checks

Inside Higher Ed
August 20th, 2015


The faculty union for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has gone to state court to seek an injunction to block the system from starting background checks on all employees, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Union leaders say that state law requires only that those who teach or work with minors be subject to background checks, and that most professors do not teach or work with minors. Union leaders also note that the law doesn't count as a minor those who are enrolled at a college or visiting a college as a prospective student. But university leaders say that all campus employees should have background checks because many minors visit campuses for summer programs or other events.

Becoming David Bowie

Inside Higher Ed
August 20th, 2015


Will Brooker is studying David Bowie by trying to live like him for a year.
A fan since he was a teenager, the professor of film and cultural studies at Kingston University has been commissioned to write a monograph about the singer. A number of false starts led to his “drawing up lists about what Bowie engaged with culturally. That was my entry point. I am trying to understand his state of mind by immersing myself in his life.”
Proceeding chronologically through decades of Bowie’s career from the late 1960s, Brooker has visited Brixton, Bromley and Beckenham and plans to go to Berlin next month. He is reading William Burroughs, Aleister Crowley, Michael Morcock and Friedrich Nietzsche. And he is listening to what Bowie would have heard in different eras (and no music that has been created since).

How Some Professors Deploy Mobile Technology in Their Teaching

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 20th, 2015

Students in Ronald A. Yaros’s Info 3.0 class at the University of Maryland at College Park this fall will use a smartphone app specifically designed for practically everything in the course: Writing blog posts, sending tweets, and shooting video interviews.
Mr. Yaros doesn’t allow laptop computers in his classroom but not because he doesn’t expect students to look at screens. Instead, he asks them to bring a tablet computer or use their smartphones to follow along with his interactive demonstrations during class, which he can beam to their devices using another app, called Nearpod. With a swipe of the finger on his iPad, the screens on his students’ devices change as well. In addition to slides, he pulls up work the students have done in the week since their last meeting, as well as asks open-ended questions, polls them, and shares PDFs on the small screen.

Stop Universities From Hoarding Money

New York Times
August 19th, 2015


WHO do you think received more cash from Yale’s endowment last year: Yale students, or the private equity fund managers hired to invest the university’s money?
It’s not even close.
Last year, Yale paid about $480 million to private equity fund managers as compensation — about $137 million in annual management fees, and another $343 million in performance fees, also known as carried interest — to manage about $8 billion, one-third of Yale’s endowment.
In contrast, of the $1 billion the endowment contributed to the university’s operating budget, only $170 million was earmarked for tuition assistance, fellowships and prizes. Private equity fund managers also received more than students at four other endowments I researched: Harvard, the University of Texas, Stanford and Princeton.

Read more here

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Americans Are Becoming More Pro-Union

Huffington Post
August 17th, 2015


Americans have grown more supportive of labor unions in recent years, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. The poll found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans say they approve of labor unions, the highest approval rate since 2008.
Gallup has been surveying American opinion on organized labor since 1936. Approval has jumped five percentage points in the last year alone, and 10 percentage points since 2008. Desire for more union influence is also up. Thirty-seven percent of Americans say they want unions to have more influence, while 35 percent want to see unions wield less influence. By comparison, in 2009, only 25 percent of respondents said they wanted more influence, and 42 percent wanted less.

It’s Harder Now to Change Students’ Lives, but No Less Important

The Chronicle of Higher Education 
August 14th, 2015

When I was an undergraduate at Antioch College in the early ’80s, I took a course in philosophical anthropology. I’m still not entirely sure what "philosophical anthropology" means, but it was the best course I ever had. It did more to prepare me for graduate school and my career than any other course, and it was edge-of-your-seat, lean-across-the-table interesting. The problem is that the professor, Victor Ayoub, has retired, and committees in the modern world rarely approve courses like his.
The syllabus was about half a page in length. There were no course objectives, and the professor didn’t list his instructional activities or his grading procedures. What filled the half-page was a list of five or six books we would read during the semester and a sentence or two informing students that they would be expected to complete a research paper — the first part of which was due near the middle of the semester, with the rest being due at the end.

Can Universities Fix the Police?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 18th, 2015

On a Sunday evening in July, Robin S. Engel was watching her daughter’s basketball game when her phone rang. It was the police.
A man had just been shot, an assistant chief of the Cincinnati Police Department told her. It happened near the University of Cincinnati, where Ms. Engel worked as a professor of criminal justice. The shooter was a university police officer.
The professor’s phone beeped. It was another city police commander, this time a district captain, who also wanted to keep Ms. Engel in the loop. Before long, she learned about the victim. His name was Samuel DuBose. He was 43 years old, black, and unarmed. And he was dead.

NLRB’s Northwestern Ruling Sets a High Bar for Approving Student-Athlete Unions

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 18th, 2015

The National Labor Relations Board decided on Monday to reject a bid by football players at Northwestern University to form a union.
More than a year after the five-member board took up the issue, it released a unanimous decision saying that the board was "declining to assert jurisdiction" in the case because allowing athletes at a private university to organize would not "promote stability in labor markets."
The board did not rule on the core issue of whether athletes who receive grant-in-aid scholarships are employees, seeming to leave open the possibility that other groups of student athletes could attempt to organize a union. However, experts in labor law and college athletics say the board was simply dodging a difficult issue and possibly even making it harder for similar groups to unionize in the future.

Making the Most of the Syllabus

Inside Higher Ed
August 17th, 2015


A common complaint from professors concerns students’ endless questions about topics that are covered on the syllabus. I have been teaching for over a decade and recall only one such incident. So while I appreciate that such questions would be irritating, I cannot relate to them. As with many aspects of teaching, it is possible to approach the syllabus in a myriad of ways. Here I share my related practices with the hopes that others can end up with fewer questions about issues that are already addressed on their syllabi.
My caveat here is that most of my classes are relatively small, creating the types of classroom settings that lend themselves well to conversations between students and the instructor much more than big lecture classes. That said, some of the points I discuss should work regardless of class size. For those that do not, I offer some alternatives.

Akron President Affirms Support for University Press

Inside Higher Ed
August 18th, 2015


The president of the University of Akron, Scott L. Scarborough, on Monday issued a statement pledging continued support to the University of Akron Press. The university has been saying that for several weeks now, but many on campus and off have been doubtful because the university eliminated the jobs of all press employees. Since then, the university has named a professor to lead the press, and Scarborough's statement said that two employees of the press would have their jobs restored. Further, he pledged not only to keep the contract obligations of the press, as he has previously, but to "seek out new, high-quality works."
Reaction was mixed, with several observers who have advocated for the press asking not to be quoted by name. They said generally that they applauded the statement, but many have lost trust in university leaders, so they were not prepared to celebrate.

Did a Board Chair Overstep?

Inside Higher Ed
August 18th, 2015


As speculation continues about the reasons for Arvind Gupta’s abrupt resignation from the University of British Columbia presidency after one year in office, one professor whose blog post speculating that his skin color (brown) and advocacy for minority and female academics in leadership might have something to do with it has written a follow-up post describing what she characterizes as an institutional attempt to silence her.
Her account of the attempt -- and the UBC board chair's role in it -- has heightened faculty concerns about governance at UBC following Gupta's unexplained resignation.
It started when Jennifer Berdahl published a blog post last week titled, “Did President Arvind Gupta Lose the Masculinity Contest?” In that post Berdahl acknowledged that she did not know the “ins and outs” of the reasons for Gupta’s departure. “But what I do have are my personal observations and experiences after my first year here as the inaugural Montalbano Professor of Leadership Studies: Gender and Diversity,” Berdahl’s post says. “I believe that part of this outcome is that Arvind Gupta lost the masculinity contest among the leadership at UBC, as most women and minorities do at institutions dominated by white men.”

NLRB Punts on Northwestern Union

Inside Higher Ed
August 18th, 2015


The National Labor Relations Board on Monday declined to assert jurisdiction over whether football players at Northwestern University may form a union.
The NLRB's vaguely written decision ends the drive to unionize at Northwestern, but left higher education, sports and labor experts divided on whether the ruling kills all efforts to unionize college football or just slows the movement down. In its order, the NLRB stated that it was not judging the merits of the players’ argument, and that the board could later return to the issue.
"The board went to great lengths to make sure the decision is very much limited in this instance to Northwestern and to college football players," said Dan Johns, a lawyer who leads Ballard Spahr's Higher Education Group and who specializes in labor organizing efforts at colleges. "But the board's underlying reasoning here makes it difficult to see another team having success."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why an Upcoming Supreme Court Case Has Teachers Unions Feeling Very, Very Nervous

Slate
July 8th, 2015

Late last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could deliver a fatal blow to the financial health of already-imperiled public-employee unions. In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, Rebecca Friedrichs, a public school teacher in Orange County, along with nine other teachers and the Christian Educators Association, filed a suit objecting to the agency, or “fair share,” fees they’re required to pay to the CTA.
As it currently stands, California teachers cannot be forced to join the CTA, which the Supreme Court has ruled would violate the freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment. But even those teachers who decline union membership must still pay a fee to cover the cost of “collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment purposes,” a compromise established in 1977 by a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in the similar-looking Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

Freelance Academics as Public Intellectuals

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 14th, 2015



A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reporter at a popular magazine, asking to interview me about a current event: the publication of Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, and the apparent downfall of Atticus Finch as an American hero. I agreed to the interview. When the reporter called, before she could begin the interview, I asked her a question: “How did you find me?” I figured she saw something I wrote on Twitter or on my blog.
She said she found me through my research.
Many years ago, back when I was still a professor, I published an article on To Kill a Mockingbird that took a controversial, critical stance on Atticus Finch. Based on that research, the reporter believed I would be a good expert to interview about the new controversy surrounding the character.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reporter at a popular magazine, asking to interview me about a current event: the publication of Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, and the apparent downfall of Atticus Finch as an American hero. I agreed to the interview. When the reporter called, before she could begin the interview, I asked her a question: “How did you find me?” I figured she saw something I wrote on Twitter or on my blog.
She said she found me through my research.
Many years ago, back when I was still a professor, I published an article on To Kill a Mockingbird that took a controversial, critical stance on Atticus Finch. Based on that research, the reporter believed I would be a good expert to interview about the new controversy surrounding the character.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1100-freelance-academics-as-public-intellectuals#sthash.xX7t2arj.dpuf
A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reporter at a popular magazine, asking to interview me about a current event: the publication of Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, and the apparent downfall of Atticus Finch as an American hero. I agreed to the interview. When the reporter called, before she could begin the interview, I asked her a question: “How did you find me?” I figured she saw something I wrote on Twitter or on my blog.
She said she found me through my research.
Many years ago, back when I was still a professor, I published an article on To Kill a Mockingbird that took a controversial, critical stance on Atticus Finch. Based on that research, the reporter believed I would be a good expert to interview about the new controversy surrounding the character.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1100-freelance-academics-as-public-intellectuals#sthash.xX7t2arj.dpuf

N.L.R.B. Denies Request From Northwestern Football Players Seeking Union

New York Times
August 17th, 2015


The National Labor Relations Board on Monday dismissed a petition by Northwestern football players who were seeking to unionize, effectively denying their claim that they are university employees and should be allowed to collectively bargain. In a unanimous decision that was a clear victory for the college sports establishment, the five-member board declined to exert its jurisdiction in the case and preserved, for now, one of the N.C.A.A.’s core principles: that college athletes are primarily students.

The Board did not directly rule on the central question in the case — whether the players, who spend long hours on football and help generate millions of dollars for Northwestern, are university employees. Instead, it found the novelty of the petition and its potentially wide-ranging impacts on college sports would not have promoted “stability in the labor market.” Citing competitive balance and the potential impact on N.C.A.A. rules, the board made clear it harbored many reservations about the ramifications of granting college athletes, much less a single team, collective bargaining rights.

Poll: Americans' view of labor unions improving

Politico
August 17th, 2015


Nearly six in 10 Americans have a favorable view of labor unions, according to the results of a new Gallup survey released Monday.
Approval of unions jumped to 58 percent this year, an increase of five percentage points from 2014, though still well below the 75 percent organized labor enjoyed in the early 1950s but greater than the 48 percent who approved in 2009 in the grips of the recession.
Overall, 37 percent of Americans said they wanted unions to have more influence on the political process, while 35 percent wanted less influence and 24 percent wanted more of the same. The percentage of Americans saying they want more union influence on politics has slightly risen since 2009, with a similar share among Americans wanting less labor influence declining.

Turning an Issue into a Campaign

Labor Notes
August 11th, 2015




Sandi walks up to you, the steward, just as the hallways start filling with noisy high schoolers heading for the bus. She is ready to blow her top, and over the din she tells you her supervisor is demanding that she continue driving special education students in her own car—long a part of her job as a teaching assistant—despite a recent warning from her insurance agent that she’s not covered for it.
“He told me if I refuse to drive, I’m fired,” she says. “I’ve been in this job seven years, never any problem. Can he do that?”
You’ve been a steward long enough to know the routine. You ask Sandi: “Why don’t you write up the facts of what happened? Include what your supervisor said, what led up to the conversation, whether there were witnesses. Include what your insurance agent said, your job description, how long you’ve been driving.


Sandi walks up to you, the steward, just as the hallways start filling with noisy high schoolers heading for the bus. She is ready to blow her top, and over the din she tells you her supervisor is demanding that she continue driving special education students in her own car—long a part of her job as a teaching assistant—despite a recent warning from her insurance agent that she’s not covered for it.
“He told me if I refuse to drive, I’m fired,” she says. “I’ve been in this job seven years, never any problem. Can he do that?”
You’ve been a steward long enough to know the routine. You ask Sandi: “Why don’t you write up the facts of what happened? Include what your supervisor said, what led up to the conversation, whether there were witnesses. Include what your insurance agent said, your job description, how long you’ve been driving.
- See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2015/08/turning-issue-campaign#sthash.WN3gbYH8.dpuf