The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts on Tuesday sided with Regis College in a dispute over its plans to build a retirement community, The Boston Globe reported. Massachusetts law gives leeway on zoning rules to educational institutions, but the town of Weston has argued that the planned retirement community should be viewed primarily as residential, not educational. Regis, in an argument that now appears likely to prevail when the case returns to a lower court, has argued that because residents would take courses at the college, and college students in gerontology and social work would have internships at the retirement center, that the plans are for an educational use.
Sarah Lawrence College has had the distinction of being the only competitive college that not only told applicants that they did not need to submit SAT or ACT scores, but stated that it would not accept such scores for review at all. But that is now changing and, effective with the admissions cycle starting this fall, the college is moving to a "test-optional" stance in which applicants have the choice of whether or not to submit. A statement on the college's admissions website explains the new position: "The submission of standardized tests is optional. Along with your transcripts, test scores may provide additional evidence of your academic achievements and potential. However, Sarah Lawrence is committed to a holistic review process, and we know that standardized testing may not accurately reflect the potential and contributions of all students. You will not be at a disadvantage should you choose not to submit your scores."
E-mail records obtained by The Missoulian suggest that Jim Foley, vice president of the University of Montana, asked the then-dean of students if there was a way to punish the victim of an alleged rape for speaking out about the incident. “Is it not a violation of the student code of conduct for the woman to be publicly talking about the process and providing details about the conclusion?” Foley asked in an e-mail obtained through an open-records request. In another e-mail to the then-dean of students, Foley expressed dismay that an alleged incident involving four football players and a woman was being described in the press as a "gang rape." (University officials had been using the term "date rape.") The dean responded that the term "gang rape" was being used "because that is what it was." The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating how the university has handled a series of sexual assault allegations. Foley did not respond to requests from the newspaper for comments on the e-mail messages.
I attended a group dinner this May to say goodbye to five faculty members who are leaving the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Four of them are among my closest friends, people with whom my partner and I have maintained professional relationships and socialized with regularly for years.
Of course faculty members lose friends to outside offers, retirement departures, or negative tenure decisions all the time. Sometimes we are able to sustain those relationships at a distance. Inevitably, students we care about leave town every year. And friends die or grow apart. We may not like it when some of these things happen, but, like others throughout academe, we attend these farewell dinners and adjust.
This dinner was different. Our friends this time were leaving under duress. Two took very early retirement. Two took outside offers. They all cited the same reason. They could no longer tolerate working under irrational and malicious administrators. After years of faculty protests being ignored, they were seeking the only relief available to them: getting out of town by any means possible.
For most faculty members, the impossible administrator is usually a department head. I always advise colleagues confronted with an incompetent or destructive head to bide their time. Do not protest too early. Let frustration build to mass discontent. It usually takes three years. Once a dean is confronted by a faculty rebellion against a chair, he or she will feel sufficient political cover to act. Even a dean cannot hold the ground against a campus tsunami.
This time, however, it was not a department head who was the problem. The head in question feels equally beleaguered. The sources of frustration were administrators further up the ladder. One was irrationally and incompetently destructive. One was consistently dishonest. And two were using their administrative positions to carry out personal vendettas. Complaints had been made, and ignored. There was no recourse, no mechanism through which to seek justice. The collective response to their departure interviews: "You’re leaving. You’d say anything." One of these friends who is known to be extremely judicious said this at the dinner about the administrators in question: "They’re rotten to the core."
That is not what he would say about every failed administrator. The University of Illinois just lost a president to a forced resignation. He foolishly squandered his good will and pretty thoroughly alienated the faculty in the system and finally even the Board of Trustees who hired him, but I certainly never considered him a monster. But universities do have monsters in high places. At a local American Association of University Professors chapter meeting this month it was acknowledged that our failed president was hardly the most wantonly destructive administrator. Yet the faculty members who gave formal presentations
pronounced shared governance alive and well on campus, and advocated greater collegiality — rather than structural change -- as the way to strengthen and maintain cooperative bonds among faculty, administrators, and the board. How many careers have to be damaged or ended by rogue administrators before faculty members will admit broader reforms are needed?
Toward the administrators who were an invisible presence at our dinner, faculty discontent has a long history. But nothing comes of it. The university administration’s daily functioning is grounded in both line authority and line loyalty along the administrative chain of command. Administrators will not challenge that protocol unless they feel they have no choice. With administrators who hand out rewards to select faculty, universal rebellion rarely coalesces, though in some of the examples I am referencing it has come pretty close.
Can anything be done? Under collective bargaining faculty usually have stronger grievance procedures and thus access to procedures not in the hands of senior administrators complicit in misdeeds throughout the chain of command. But nothing would prevent a campus like my own from instituting good grievance procedures even without collective bargaining, nothing, that is, except those faculty members and administrators who benefit from and prefer the status quo. Which means it will not happen without collective bargaining and unless faculty members take a cold collective look at conditions campuswide.
Meanwhile, my friends are leaving. There was no component of sweetness for most of us at the dinner. Sorrow dominated. Along with the sense that those of us remaining on campus are serving on poisoned ground. Unchecked administrative abuses undercut morale decisively and convince faculty members it is a mistake to think of themselves as members of a community.
Cary Nelson is national president of the American Association of University Professors.
Angelo Armenti Jr. was fired Wednesday as president of California University of Pennsylvania, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The Board of Governors of the state higher education system fired Armenti after he declined to resign. Officials have been studying spending accounts related to the university, but declined to discuss details on why Armenti was fired. He had been president since 1992.
Harold Raveché, the former president of Stevens Institute of Technology, has received more than $5 million since he quit under fire for alleged financial mismanagement, The Star-Ledger reported. University officials said that they were legally obligated to pay the money, which came in the form of consulting fees, severance pay, retirement benefits and other cash.