The University of Michigan is today unveiling a new way to encourage faculty research innovation. In a $15 million program called MCubed, faculty members will receive a token for $20,000. When three faculty members decide to "cube" their tokens and work together on a project, they will receive -- on a first-come, first-served basis -- $60,000 to hire one graduate student, undergraduate student, or postdoctoral researcher to begin work on the idea. Thirty faculty members could cube together and get funds for 10 such positions. The idea is to let researchers quickly move toward testing their projects, rather than going through the long peer review process to receive an initial planning grant. Michigan officials hope these "cubed" grants will let researchers move quickly into position to apply for much larger outside grants.
“The world has changed and yet higher education’s funding model is the same. With the speed at which people communicate and share information today, we see an opportunity to do things in a very different way. This is a totally new model that could turn things upside down,” said Mark Burns, professor and chair of chemical engineering. Burns developed the idea with Alec Gallimore and Thomas Zurbuchen, both associate deans in the College of Engineering.
The faculty union of the University of Rhode Island has filed an unfair labor practice charge after the state's Board of Governors for Higher Education rejected a three-year contract that had been negotiated with the union, The Providence Journal reported. The board also rejected contracts for other public colleges, and for graduate students at the university. Board members said that they didn't have enough information on the financial implications of the contracts. A statement from the American Association of University Professors, which represents the faculty members and grad students at the university, blasted the move, saying that "board negotiators represented to us that they were authorized to reach agreement with us."
In today’s Academic Minute, Amina Eladdadi of the College of Saint Rose explains how mathematical models can help physicians predict the growth of cancerous tumors. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Teacher education students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with the support of some faculty members, are refusing to participate in a pilot project in which Stanford University and the education company Pearson are analyzing whether the students have demonstrated proficiency in their student teaching, The New York Times reported. Because UMass is participating in the project, the students were directed to submit two 10-minute videos of themselves teaching, and to take a 40-page take-home test to submit to Pearson. Some states are already planning to use that process as a key part of the credentialing of new teachers. Stanford officials said Pearson has provided key support for the project, which comes at a time that many have questioned the systems currently used by states. At other universities participating in the pilot, there have been no protests, Stanford officials said.
But the students and some professors at UMass say that faculty review of students over a six-month period is a much better way to measure teaching ability, and that good reviews can't be done by people who have never seen the students in person. And so they are refusing to send Pearson the required materials. "This is something complex and we don’t like seeing it taken out of human hands," Barbara Madeloni, who runs the university high school teacher training program, told the Times. "We are putting a stick in the gears."
A new paper suggests job market for new Ph.D.s could improve through the creation of part-time positions that are focused on research and go beyond the level of support received by postdocs and adjuncts.
J. Paul Reddam, owner of Saturday's Kentucky Derby winner, I'll Have Another, was once a philosophy professor at California State University at Los Angeles. He left academe to found DiTech, a mortgage loan company, and his sale of that company gave him the resources to become a major player in horse racing, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. In an interview with the publication Thoroughbred Owners of California, Reddam gave this reason for leaving academe. "Money," he gave as the reason. "You know, I enjoyed the teaching, and certainly the hours were very flexible. But you can only make so much money at it, which isn’t very much, so I decided I needed to get a real job."
A majority of voting faculty members approved resolutions recently of no confidence in the presidents of Wilkes University and the University of Southern Maine. At Southern Maine, a vote of no confidence requires the backing of two-thirds of all faculty members to pass, and while the measure won the support of 194 faculty members (with 88 opposed), it needed 251 votes to officially pass.
At Wilkes, faculty members voted no confidence, 81-19, in President Tim Gilmour, The Citizens Voice reported. Gilmour is planning to retire, but faculty members are angry over benefit cuts and a wage freeze he has proposed to deal with budget deficits, and his decision to accept a paid sabbatical upon retirement. Gilmour said he is making "difficult decisions," and so accepts that they will be controversial.
At Southern Maine, faculty members have expressed frustration over budget decisions of President Selma Botman at a time she awarded large raises to some non-faculty employees, Maine Public Broadcasting reported. Botman has defended her decisions, but vowed to reach out to faculty members. James Page, chancellor of the University of Maine System, said he takes the vote "very seriously" and plans to meet with Botman to discuss it.