Friday, March 31, 2017

Trump Proposal to Cut Indirect Research Payments Would Hit State Universities Hardest

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Paul Basken
March 31, 2017

The Trump administration's plan to cut billions of dollars in research spending by eliminating indirect cost reimbursements would devastate university science, especially at public institutions, experts warned.

The U.S. secretary for health and human services, Tom Price, told Congress this week that the idea is to save taxpayers money while giving them the same amount of research activity.  Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Education's website here.

Faculty 'Diversity Statements' Are Called Threats to Academic Freedom

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Peter Schmidt
March 30, 2017

The "diversity statements" that many colleges now require of applicants for faculty positions are coming under attack by traditionalists and conservatives as threats to academic freedom.

The Oregon affiliate of the National Association of Scholars has issued a report accusing colleges in that state and elsewhere of creating "ideological litmus tests" for faculty hiring and promotion by asking candidates for statements discussing their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Degrees Lead on Wages

Inside Higher Ed
By Ashley A. Smith
March 29, 2017

While some states and colleges are focused on boosting certificates as a way to increase graduates' earnings more than shorter-term credentials.

A new paper from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment at the Community College Research Center, at Teachers College of Columbia University, found that women on average receive a boost of about $7,200 a year for an associate degree, about 26 percent more than the earnings of women who have some college but no degree.  Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wayne State U. seeks to Revoke Tenure for a Third Time

Wayne State U. Seeks to Revoke Tenure From 5 Medical-School Professors

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Adam Harris
March 29, 2017

Wayne State University is trying to revoke tenure from five professors in the medical school for allegedly underperforming in their academic duties, according to The Detroit News.

Hearing to withdraw tenure from the professors began on Wednesday.  All told, the university is eyeing 37 members of the faculty at the medical school who could either retire or be terminated for "grossly underperforming."  The five faculty members were also included on a list of "60 to 80 unproductive medical school faculty" generated by the Detroit university last year, the report said.

AAUP Investigation Finds Adjunct Professor Fired for Not Lowering Expectation of Philosophy Class

Inside Higher Ed reports on an investigation conducted by AAUP at the Community College of Aurora.  The adjunct professor was fired immediately, without due process.

Fired Because He Wouldn't Dumb Down a Course?

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
March 29, 2017

Students may complain about courses that are too hard, but could fighting to maintain high standards actually get a professor fired?  A new report from the American Association of University Professors alleges that Colorado's Community College of Aurora terminated an adjunct because he refused to lower his expectations for his introductory philosophy class.  The report sets the stage for the AAUP to vote on censuring Aurora for alleged violations of academic freedom later this spring, but the college denies such charges.  It blames Nathaniel Bork's termination on his own teaching "difficulties."

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

Community College of Aurora

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

15 years of success for UW center in recruiting, supporting female STEM faculty

UW Today
By James Urton
March 27, 2017

Late last year, the University of Washington's ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change quietly marked its 15th birthday.  But now, with thriving programs for early-career faculty and record numbers of female faculty in STEM fields, the center is ready to party.

Read the full article at the UW Today website here.

Deal Averts Non-Tenure-Track Strike at Ithaca

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
March 28, 2017

Ithaca College's new non-tenure-track faculty union reached a tentative contract agreement with the institution this week, averting a threatened strike.

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

A Defender of Impoverished Students, and a Scholar of Their Struggles

This is a video recap from Sara Goldrick-Rab's talk at SXSWedu.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Scott Carlson
March 27, 2017

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a sociology professor at Temple University, describes how college costs and financial-aid structures cut out low-income students.  This is part of a special series of video highlights from SXSWedu, produced by The Chronicle.

Regional Labor Panels Are Hailed as Likely to Improve Colleges' Relations With Adjuncts

The topic of contingent faculty representation was a panel discussion at the 44th annual conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions.  PSU-AAUP was in attendance at the conference, see our post here.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Peter Schmidt
March 28, 2017

When this city's construction companies need to hire plumbers, they turn to a single citwide union, United Association Local 1, to provide them.  As much as non-tenure-track faculty members might cringe at being compared to such workers, might they benefit from having colleges near them siliarly hire contingent faculty members from a single pool?

The idea of having colleges recruit contingent instructors from "hiring halls' like those used in construction trades- or, at the very least, create entities to collaboratively deal with such instructors' workplace concerns - drew remarkably strong interest here on Monday at a conference on academic labor negotiations.

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Higher Education Could Benefit form Its Own Climate Change

Academe Blog
By Brian C. Mitchell
March 22, 2017

Image from Inside Higher Ed
Higher education is misunderstood and struggling financially, but the majority of college and university presidents are increasingly confident that their institutions are financially stable.  These seemingly contradictions were found in Inside Higher Education's annual survey of 706 campus leaders.

Let's set aside the obvious political concerns among presidents about the Trump Administration or the selection of the new U.S. Education secretary that underscored many of the questions put to the presidents in the IHE survey, which was conducted in January and early February.

Read the full article at the Academe Blog here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Momentum Builds for May Day Strikes- Labor Notes

Momentum Builds for May Day Strikes

Labor Notes
By Jonathan Rosenblum
March 23, 2017

Shop steward Tomas Mejia sensed something was different when 600 janitors streamed into the Los Angeles union hall February 16- far more than for a regular membership meeting.  Chanting "Huelga! Huelga!" ("Strike! Strike!), they voted unanimously to strike on May Day.

This won't be a strike against their employers.  The janitors of SEIU United Service Workers West felt driven, Mejia says, "to strike with the community" against the raids, threats, and immigrant-bashing hate speech that the Trump administration has unleashed. 

Read the full Labor Notes article here.

Members of SEIU-USWW voted unanimously to strike this May Day.
They are encouraging other worker and community organizations to
mobilize for May 1. Photo: SEIU-USWW

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ithaca College Students Support the March 28 & 29 Strike by Contingent Faculty

Students React to Contingent Faculty Strike

The Ithacan
By Sierra Guardiola
March 22, 2017

Students at Ithaca College are in the midst of preparing for a strike being held by contingent faculty March 28 and 29.  While some are throwing their support behind the faculty, others are wary as to how the strike will affect their studies.

Seniors Taylor Ford and Catherine Proulx are both members of IC Students for Labor Action, a student organization involved in showing support for the contingent faculty.  Through many mediums, they have been trying to offer ways to educate and involve students on campus to support the efforts of the contingent faculty. 

Read the full article from The Ithaca here.

Senior Peter Zibinski addresses reporters at an event held to
support the contingent faculty union outside of an event celebrating
the IC 20/20 on March 2. (Sam Fuller/The Ithaca)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Adjunct Faculty Member Uses AAUP Foundation Legal Defense Fund and Wins

Robin Meade, Adjunct Faculty member and Union President, wins battle over termination for criticizing Moraine Valley Community College administration.

Another Victory for Adjunct Rights

Academe Blog
By Robin Meade
March 14, 2017

I can't title this article "I Won" because I already used that title.  But now I have won a $125,000 settlement and a reinstatement after being fired for criticizing the administration of Moraine Valley Community College.

The fact that I keep winning in court should provide everyone with hope and embolden those in the struggle to continue to fight.  The AAUP has my eternal gratitude for providing me with support through a grant from the AAUP Foundation Legal Defense Fund and the support of Committee A here in Illinois.

Read the full Academe Blog post here.

How should universities handle disruptive conduct?

An Inside Higher Ed article highlights viewpoints on the University of Chicago's report regarding discipline for disruptive conduct.   AAUP Academe blog co-editor, John K. Wilson, is quoted.  Links to all materials below.

Dealing With Disrupters

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
March 22, 2017

As obstructionist protests of controversial speakers spread, some say the future of the trend depends on how colleges and universities respond - namely what, if any, disciplinary action they take against participants.  But just what action to take, and when, is tricky business.  Practically it can mean sorting through the chaos that often surrounds such events to find specific perpetrators; politically, it can mean wading into murky waters.

The University of Chicago has some ideas on how to proceed.  

Read the full Inside Higher Ed article here.

The AAUP Academe Blog posted Disruptive Conduct and the University of Chicago on March 19, 2017. 

The University of Chicago's report of the Committee on University Discipline for Disruptive Conduct can be found here

New Report on Gender Pay Gap

As reported locally yesterday, a University of Oregon Professor is claiming pay discrimination.  A new report by The Chronicle of Higher Education on the U.S. Education Department's data is below.

Gender Pay Gap Persists Across Faculty Ranks

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Joshua Hatch
March 22, 2017

Faculty salaries increased 2.8 percent in 2015 over the previous year, according to the latest U.S. Education Department data.

The data show women's salaries grew at a slightly higher rate - 3 percent - than men's, but not enough to begin closing the gender pay gap.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Foundation Grants for Faculty Under Attack

March 21, 2017

In keeping with its mission to support principles of academic freedom and the quality of higher education in a free and democratic society, the AAUP Foundation welcomes grant applications from faculty impacted by the Trump Administration’s travel ban or by other threats to academic freedom. The Foundation accepts grant applications on a quarterly basis. The 2017 deadlines for each quarter are March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. 
As the AAUP emphasized in a recent statement about the travel ban, the free movement of people and ideas is an important element of academic freedom. Stories of faculty from Muslim-dominant countries stranded abroad or detained inappropriately at US airports contribute to an increasing climate of Islamophobia. The polarization of civic dialogue since the 2016 election has a chilling effect on academic freedom, as faculty are increasingly vulnerable to efforts by state legislators and groups such as Turning Point USA, funders of the Professor Watchlist, to target faculty whose ideas and curricula they oppose. AAUP Foundation grants may be able to provide financial assistance to faculty under attack, whether they are pursuing litigation or require immediate aid in a crisis.
Legal Defense Fund grant recipient Robin Meade

Read the full article here.

Gorsuch Poses Threat to Civil Rights, Workers Rights

March 17, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch has been proclaimed a “natural successor” to former justice Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court, and, unfortunately, would likely continue Scalia’s work to dismantle many of the protections extended to workers, the public, minorities, and the disabled.

In contrast to most of his colleagues, Gorsuch has restricted the laws protecting workers and the public by narrowly interpreting such laws and by refusing to defer to agencies enforcing them. As a result, he has generally ruled in favor of employers and corporations.

Read the full article here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Majority Vote for Graduate Union delayed by University- The Chronicle of Higher Education

With Trump Poised to Change the Legal Landscape, the Clock May Be Ticking on Graduate Unions

Ryan Flynn/New Haven Register via AP
When Columbia University graduate students went to the polls in December to decide whether to form a union, the landslide that ensued surprised even many activists.  Despite opposition by the administration, students voted by more than two to one to form a collective-bargaining unit.

More than three months later, however, they are no closer to a seat at the bargaining table. Read More

Friday, March 17, 2017

AAUP's Statement on the GOP Budget Proposal

No Surprise: "Skinny" Budget Undermines Science, Education, and the Public Good

President Trump released an initial budget proposal Thursday containing deep cuts that would severely damage scientific research, the arts and humanities, and access to higher education. 

Low-Income Students and Students of Color Lose Resources- The Chronicle for Higher Education

What Trump's Budget Outline Would Mean for Higher Ed

President Trump laid out the spending priorities for his administration on Thursday, releasing a budget "blueprint" that includes a $9-billion cut for the U.S. Department of Education, more than 13 percent, as well as decreases at several agencies that provide money for academic research, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The administration’s outline also calls for eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Read More

Cuts to the National Endowments Will Impact Campuses and More- The Chronicle for Higher Education

Why It Matters that Trump Wants to Kill the NEA and NEH

Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
The National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities are no strangers to the political crosshairs. And it came as little surprise to many scholars that President Trump would propose to eliminate them in his first budget.
Still, the president’s plan is a stark statement of his values and, in it, campus and scholarly leaders see an attack on intellectual inquiry.
“This administration is saying we do not value the study and research in fields like history and literature,” says Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association. “We do not value the arts. We do not value educational opportunities for large swaths of Americans.”  Read More

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Chronicle of Higher Education's Analysis of the future for the CFPB

An Uncertain Future for Higher Education’s Federal ‘Cop on the Beat’
MARCH 16, 2017 

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the federal agency that many Republicans, financial institutions, and for-profit colleges love to hate.

Just under seven years old, the bureau has already left its mark on broad swaths of higher education. It has uncovered abusive practices of student-loan-servicing companies; sued banks and for-profit colleges, accusing them of misrepresenting their student loans; created a complaint system for student borrowers that many consider a model for protecting consumer interests; and highlighted the often too-cozy business ties that colleges have in their deals with banks for student debit cards.
Through a flurry of reports, blog posts, enforcement actions, and lawsuits, the bureau has touched on programs and services that affect nearly every one of the 50 million Americans now holding a student loan or co-signing one, along with millions of others enrolled in college. While it’s impossible to deny the agency’s broad reach, it’s also not hard to find critics assailing it for overreach, sensationalism, and what one detractor calls an overreliance on "name-shaming press releases."  Read More

AAUP Affirms Opposition to Revised Travel Ban

New Ban, Same Discrimination

It’s still a ban. It’s still exclusionary. It’s still aimed at Muslim-majority countries. And it still has a chilling effect on academic freedom and the movement of people and ideas.
Under the new travel ban signed today, people from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya will face a 90-day ban on entering the United States. This despite a leaked Homeland Security draft report from last week that said that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of a threat and the fact that there are already stringent vetting procedures in place for people seeking visas to enter the US.

AAUP's Statement and Recommendations regarding Harassment of Faculty

 Targeted Online Harassment of Faculty

This statement addresses increasing concerns about efforts to intimidate and harass faculty. The Professor Watchlist website, claiming to identify professors who "advance leftist propaganda in the classroom" is one example of such efforts. The statement includes recommendations for administrations, governing boards, faculty bodies, and individual faculty members to defend academic freedom, condemn targeted harassment of faculty, and to prohibit surreptitious recordings of faculty and students.

Targeted Online Harassment of Faculty

The 2016 election has exacerbated a political climate that was already inimical to academic freedom. Six years ago the American Association of University Professors conveyed its concern that “the war on terror, the conflict in the Middle East, and a resurgence of the culture wars in such scientific fields as health and the environment” had created an atmosphere “in which partisan political interests threaten to overwhelm academic judgment.”[1] Since the election, we have seen a resurgence of politically motivated witch hunts against academic scientists working in fields such as climate change and fetal tissue research, where the implications of scientific findings are perceived as threats by entrenched interests and partisan ideologues. In addition to the “danger zones” for academic freedom enumerated in 2011, issues related to racial justice have also come to the forefront in the course of the last two years and played a prominent role in the most recent election. Read More