The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges on Thursday announced that it is creating a search consulting business, focusing on presidents and other top officials of colleges. AGB Search, as it will be called, will launch this summer. AGB also announced that James Ferrare will become senior vice president and managing principal of AGB Search. Ferrare is a senior consultant at Academic Search, one of the leading search firms focused on the college president market. Academic Search describes itself as having been founded by "the presidential and trustee-based associations" representing colleges.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Times Higher Education details a physics conference where it's not enough to be invited; you also have to be sure your invitation isn't revoked. According to the account, one of those rejected shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics. Brian Josephson, head of the Mind-Matter Unification Project at Cambridge, was rejected because "one of his principal research interests is the paranormal." Two other invitations were also withdrawn.
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
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Amid calls for boycotts of Arizona -- in response to a new law that many believe will result in ethnic profiling -- at least one college program will lose a participant. Tayari Jones, an assistant professor of creative writing at Rutgers University's Newark campus, announced that she will abandon plans to attend the Pima Writers Workshop at Pima Community College, the Los Angeles Times reported.
New England College has settled its lawsuit against Drew University over the actions of a former poetry program director at New England who left and set up a similar program at Drew, bringing faculty members with her, the Associated Press reported. New England charged Drew and the professor with essentially stealing the program. Details of the settlement were not available.
Students and faculty members at Albion College are protesting the planned elimination of 15 full-time faculty jobs at Albion College, saying that the way the layoffs are being made will effectively abolish tenure rights, The Battle Creek Enquirer reported. College officials say that they need to reduce the size of the faculty because of enrollment declines. The college denies that it is damaging the tenure system or academic freedom, but admits changing parts of the faculty handbook to be able to carry out the layoffs.
Zafra Lerman, a longtime chemistry professor at Columbia College Chicago, is suing the college, charging that she lost her job in retaliation for her defense of another faculty member and because she is Jewish, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Lerman has been an outspoken defender of faculty rights and a critic of administrators at the college, resulting in numerous disputes in which the administration has denied violating her rights.
The University of Cambridge is considering changes in the procedures for dismissing professors, and the changes have some worried about a loss of academic freedom, The Guardian reported. Long-standing rules allow for dismissals of professors only for "conduct of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature, incompatible with the duties of the office or employment." The proposed revisions would allow for dismissal for "gross misconduct," which would include "unreasonable refusal to carry out a reasonable instruction."
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the University of Wyoming to let William Ayers speak on the campus today -- and to reverse a decision to bar him from appearing. The university originally cited political controversy over Ayers, a University of Illinois at Chicago education professor who is controversial because of his one-time role as a leader of the Weather Underground. During the court hearings on a suit challenging the university's decision, officials cited security concerns, but the judge said that did not justify the decision. The Casper Star-Tribune reported that Judge William Downes said: "This court is of age to remember the Weather Underground. When his group was bombing the Capitol in 1971, I was serving in the uniform of my country. Like many veterans, when I hear that name, I can scarcely swallow the bile of my contempt for it. But Mr. Ayers is a citizen of the United States who wishes to speak, and he need not offer any more justification than that."
Via e-mail, Ayers told Inside HIgher Ed he was not surprised by the ruling. "The university put forward a pitiful and transparently dishonest case. They must have known they had no chance, but now they claim they were motivated only by protecting public safety as they wink at their donors."
The university issued a statement that it would "fully comply with the court's order and will provide appropriate security."
Reed College has clarified just what laws were cited when federal and state authorities summoned its president last week to a meeting to request that he crack down on drug use at the institution. Only one statute -- known as a "crackhouse" law -- was cited, and not another statute that could result in a loss of federal eligibility for student loans, college officials now say. In an e-mail to students after his meeting last week, Colin Diver, the president, said "In the course of the conversation, the U.S. Attorney pointedly referred to a federal statute that makes it a criminal and civil offense for anyone knowingly to operate any facility for the purpose of using illegal drugs. We were also reminded of federal legislation that allows all federal funding -- including student loans -- to be withdrawn from any college or university that fails to take adequate steps to combat illegal drug activity." The U.S. attorney contacted Inside Higher Ed and said he never threatened to invoke any law involving federal student loans. Diver now says that while the U.S. attorney "referred to .. federal legislation that could be applied to the college if it failed to crack down more forcefully on drug use," he never cited the Drug-Free Schools Act, which is the legislation that could have resulted in loan eligibility ending. Diver said he sent the U.S. attorney's office a copy of his e-mail to students before distribution and that no one flagged a problem with his mention of the other law. All parties now agree that only the crackhouse law -- under which Reed could face large fines, but not any loss of loan eligibility -- was cited.