Authorities arrested 18 students Wednesday who refused to leave the area of the president's office at the University of Texas at Austin, The Austin American-Statesman reported. The protest was over a "shared services" plan in which certain functions that have been performed at the departmental level will instead be centralized. The plan is expected to save a lot of money, and also to eliminate many jobs. The university released this summary of the plan and its rationale, noting that it has not been finalized.
The American Council on Education on Wednesday named 31 faculty members and administrators as the next class of ACE Fellows. The program, which matches those with potential as administrators with successful presidents and others, is credited with launching many careers. More than 300 fellows have gone on to become presidents, and another 1,300 have become provosts, vice presidents or deans. The new class may be found here.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has sued th former president of the National Graduate School of Quality Management over his pay and benefits, including a Caribbean timeshare, The Boston Globe reported. The lawsuit charges that Robert J. Gee, the former president, gave himself a $152,175 bonus in 2009, and created false documents to make it look like his board had approved the funds. The suit -- which seeks to force Gee to repay millions -- says that much of his compensation was inappropriate. A lawyer for Gee said that he would defend himself, and that all pay and benefits were approved by his board.
Adjunct professors at Seattle University who hope to organize in affiliation with the Service Employees International Union got the green light from their local National Labor Relations Board. The announcement didn’t come as a surprise to adjuncts there, who said the decision was similar to the board’s regional office ruling last year in favor of adjuncts who wish to form an SEIU-affiliated union at Pacific Lutheran University. Ballots from that subsequent union election have been impounded, however, as the national labor board weighs the university’s challenge to the ruling – namely that its religious affiliation puts it outside board jurisdiction. Michael Ng, an adjunct professor of languages and literature at both institutions, said organizers expect Seattle University to pose a similar challenge to the local board’s decision that a union runs “no significant risk of constitutional infringement” on the institution, which “lacks substantial religious character.” A university spokeswoman referred questions about the decision to previous statements made by Isiaah Crawford, provost, expressing concern about NLRB infringement on its religious identity. The university has until May 1 to appeal the decision. The union would include about 356 non-tenure-track faculty. A union vote date has not yet been announced.
Faculty and student groups are criticizing the leadership of Debra Townsley, president of William Peace University, The News & Observer reported. A letter sent by faculty members to the board cited problems such as "staff turnover, dropping graduation rates, unsecured student records and university buildings with malfunctioning heat, asbestos problems and infestations of poisonous spiders." The letter said: “Peace has become an institution driven by mediocrity, suspicion, and fear, a university desperate for tuition dollars but entirely unwilling to provide students with the support and encouragement they need to complete their degrees." And students who circulated a petition criticizing Townsley now say they are facing retaliatory disciplinary proceedings.
Townsley defended her record, noting that William Peace, like many small colleges, is undergoing change and that such transitions are difficult. Townsley led a controversial shift under which the former women's college started to admit men.
Mesa, Ariz., attracted considerable attention in academic circles by recruiting established colleges from the East and Midwest to set up branches there. On Tuesday, Westminster College, in Missouri, announced that it is shutting down its operations after only one academic year. "Demand did not meet the student numbers necessary to sustain Mesa operations as quickly as we had anticipated, and it is not financially prudent for our college to proceed," said a statement from Westminster. The college said it would try to help students find new ways to continue their educations.
Northern Kentucky University fired Scott Eaton as athletic director last year for a series of inappropriate relationships with university employees and one student. Since he was fired, an investigation uncovered new allegations that he admitted in court last week. Eaton pleaded guilty to theft in which he used his university credit card to buy more than $300,000 in gift cards for his personal use, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. He agreed to a 10-year jail term. His lawyer said that "he's not happy about the situation, obviously, but he's happy to begin the process of healing.... He regrets his actions."