Non-tenure-track faculty members at Central Michigan University have voted to unionize and to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. The Detroit Free Press reported that 108 faculty members voted to be represented by the AFT, 20 voted to be represented by the Michigan affiliate of the National Education Association, and 35 voted not to be represented. The vote at Central Michigan is among several AFT wins for non-tenure-track faculty in Michigan this year. Adjuncts voted to form unions at Eastern Michigan and Ferris State Universities, and a new adjunct union negotiated its first contract at Western Michigan University.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Education Department has pushed back the first meeting of its reconstituted advisory committee on accreditation. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which Congress scuttled in 2008 amid concerns that its work had been overly politicized by the Bush administration, was scheduled to hold its first meeting in its new form, and with a new roster of members, in September. But in a notice in today's Federal Register, the department announced that the first meeting would instead be held in December.
A right-wing group is calling on Israel's Ben Gurion University to alter its political science department -- accused by the group of being too left-leaning and not sufficiently Zionist, The Jerusalem Post reported. If the university doesn't act (and it doesn't plan to), the group is threatening to discourage donors from giving to the university. One of the department's professors -- Neve Gordon -- has been a constant target for his outspoken criticism of his country's policies. While the university has been criticized by many academics for not sufficiently defending Gordon, the university also didn't fire him -- as many critics have demanded.
Kiss-ins involving pairs of men and women wouldn't stun many American campuses, but at Stellenbosch University, a very traditional Afrikaans institution in South Africa, a kiss by two men has set off considerable debate, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The kiss involved an attempt by a gay student group to participate in a "kiss-a-thon" on campus that had been planned only for heterosexual couples. Many at the campus were stunned when the student paper, Die Matie, ran a photo of the men on the cover -- and the debate has raged ever since.
An alumna has offered Stephens College, a women's institution in Missouri, $1 million if faculty and staff members lose a collective 250 pounds by January 1, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported. And if Dianne Lynch, the president, loses 25 pounds, the college will earn another $100,000. Lynch said that the gift idea came from discussions she had with the donor, who wants to remain anonymous, after she noted her concern with the decline of healthy lifestyles. The alumna weighs 117 pounds, Lynch said.
Harvard University announced Friday that its investigations had found eight incidents of scientific misconduct by Marc Hauser, a prominent psychology professor who recently started a leave, The Boston Globe reported. The university also indicated that sanctions had been imposed, and that Hauser would be teaching again after a year. Since the Globe reported on Hauser's leave and the inquiry into his work, many scientists have called for a statement by the university on what happened, and Friday's announcement goes much further than earlier statements. In a statement sent to colleagues on Friday, Hauser said: "I am deeply sorry for the problems this case has caused to my students, my colleagues, and my university. I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes and I am deeply disappointed that this has led to a retraction and two corrections. I also feel terrible about the concerns regarding the other five cases."
Christopher Newport University has announced that it is shutting down its bookstore and replacing it with a Website for students to order books they need for courses, The Daily Press reported. Officials said that most students already are buying their books and other materials online.
Many California students are getting ready to start the academic year without Cal Grants, the state's primary student aid program, The Sacramento Bee reported. The students are eligible, but the state hasn't finished its budget so grants cannot be sent out. University of California and California State University campuses, and some private colleges, will advance students the money, but many community colleges and private colleges that serve many low-income students don't have the funds to do so, the Bee reported.
Chegg.com, which has become a major player in the book rental market for college students, on Thursday announced the purchase of CourseRank, a start-up that lets students share information about courses they plan to take (in part to schedule courses with friends) and their views on professors who teach various courses.
Four scholars were named Thursday as winners of Fields Medals, awarded every four years during meetings of the International Congress of Mathematicians to honor the best work in mathematics by those under the age of 40. The winners for 2010:
- Elon Lindenstrauss of Hebrew University (Israel)
- Ngô Báº£o Châu of Université Paris-Sud (France)
- Stanislav Smirnov of Université de Genève (Switzerland)
- Cédric Villani of Institut Henri Poincaré (France)