Faculty members and alumni of Norfolk State University are increasingly concerned about the closed nature of the search, without any public discussion even of finalists, The Virginian-Pilot reported. University leaders have said a completely private search -- far more common at private colleges than at public institutions like Norfolk -- will yield better candidates. The university's board reportedly selected three finalists in December, offered the job to one of them and was turned down by the preferred candidate.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Sure colleges all seem to be talking about their global partnerships these days, but Bryn Mawr College has selected today -- April 1 -- to announce higher education's "first intergalactic partnership between a liberal arts college and an alien research university." The pact is with Bithnian University of Science and Technology, also known as BUST. Bryn Mawr's president, Jane McAuliffe, issued this statement on the breakthrough: "Global partnerships are so 2010. Bryn Mawr is simply beyond global, and we are boldly going where no college has gone before. Our students need to learn to be intergalactic citizens." McAuliffe's excitement over the news has apparently prompted her to adopt a Princess Leia look (see the college's home page). Bryn Mawr did note in its announcement that some students -- known as "Earthers" -- aren't happy with the alliance, and that protests are being planned. "I, for one, don’t welcome our alien overlords,” Katherine Bakke, a senior, is quoted as saying. “At Bryn Mawr we talk about students wanting to make a meaningful contribution to the world. What part of ‘world’ doesn’t the administration understand?” If you are at all confused by this news from Bryn Mawr, we refer you to today's date.
Ohio Governor John R. Kasich on Thursday signed legislation that would effectively bar the faculties of Ohio public colleges from unionizing -- even though many of them already engage in collective bargaining. Faculty unions have fought hard against the legislation, but Republican legislators have generally backed it and had enough votes to get the bill through, so the outcome was not a surprise. Ohio has until now been fertile ground for faculty unions, and is a key state in the collective bargaining activities of the American Association of University Professors.
Cary Nelson, national president of the AAUP, issued this statement Thursday: "This is a black day in American labor history. The basic human rights of 400,000 public sector workers in Ohio have been cast aside by a legislature and a governor who are opposed to the principle that employees should have a voice in their own working conditions. These politicians -- enemies of democracy -- will themselves answer to the will of the people in November."
Even as judges and politicians debate the new Wisconsin law barring the faculty at the University of Wisconsin from unionizing, another campus in the system has voted to engage in collective bargaining. Faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point have voted, 283-15, to be represented by a local of the American Federation of Teachers. The AFT started a major campaign to unionize Wisconsin campuses after their faculty won the right to collective bargaining in a 2009 law that the new legislation repeals.
Karen Pletz, former president of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, was indicted Thursday on 24 counts related to alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million from the university, as well as making false statements on her tax returns and engaging in money laundering, The Kansas City Star reported. According to the indictment, she forged the approval of her board for a series of bonus payments. Pletz has denied wrongdoing and entered pleas of not guilty.
The budget being adopted in New York State is an extremely tight one for higher education (and just about everything else), but rabbinic colleges have scored a major victory. The New York Times reported that the budget deal makes some theological students eligible for the state's student aid program -- at a cost of about $18 million a year (with students eligible for grants of up to $5,000 a year for four years). While the provision's language does not specify rabbinic colleges as the prime beneficiary, students said that the definition appears to fit perfectly those rabbinic institutions that are undergraduate in nature. Some critics say that the move violates the spirit of the separation of church and state, but supporters of the provision say that it is long overdue.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is today releasing a report calling for a "master plan" for higher education in the Midwest. The report -- by James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan -- argues that the region needs to think about higher education more strategically as a region, not just as individual states or institutions. The "Bologna process" -- by which European higher education has become much more linked across national boundaries -- is cited as an example, both for its coordination and also for the broad consultation that produced the effort. The time for collaboration is evident, the report says, from the changes already taking place. "No university can control the growth of knowledge nor the educational needs of a society. Information technology is rapidly eliminating the barriers of space and time that have largely shielded campus activities from competition," the report says.
An appeals court has overturned an award of $2.5 million to a former associate controller at Florida International University who claimed he lost his job in a reorganization because of racial discrimination, The Miami Herald reported. The court found that the former employee failed to meet required standards of proof that racial discrimination was a factor. The university maintained that the reorganization -- which involved an entire division -- was based on problems with the old structure.