Members of the adjunct union at Rhode Island College have voted to ratify a contract, the union's first with the college and the first for any adjunct union in Rhode Island, The Providence Journal reported. The contract provides for a 3 percent pay increase this year, the same level other faculty members at the college are receiving. Union leaders said that they were pleased as well with a range of codified benefits, including seniority and job security rights, a grievance procedure that includes binding arbitration, and leaves of absence for circumstances such as illness and bereavement. The union is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Notice a lot of advertising from for-profit universities of late? Apparently so did the producers at "Saturday Night Live." This ad for the University of Westfield Online largely consists of student boasts of learning how to evade employers' questions about where they were educated. You may notice a similarity between the logo of the fictional online university and a prominent, and very real for-profit university.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is planning to increase undergraduate enrollment by 15 percent over the next decade, with the additional students coming from out of state, The Boston Globe reported. If the plan succeeds, the share of undergraduate enrollment from outside Massachusetts would grow to 30 percent from 20 percent. The primary goal of the plan: more money from the higher tuition paid by out-of-state residents.
Students at the University of California at Berkeley staged a 24-hour sit-in this weekend at the anthropology library to draw attention to the extent of budget cuts in general at the university, and to the cuts being faced by specialized libraries, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Most of Berkeley's small libraries are now closed on Saturdays because of budget cuts.
The 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics will be shared by Elinor Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson. Ostrom, professor of political science and professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, both at Indiana University at Bloomington, was honored for "her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons." She is also the founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, at Arizona State University. Williamson, professor emeritus of business, economics and law at the University of California at Berkeley, was honored "for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm."
Ostom is the first woman to win the Nobel in economics.
Usually groups like the Project on Student Debt are worried about college students taking on too large a loan burden. But in a report released Thursday, the group argues that many community college students are actually hurt because their institutions do not give them access to federal loans. As a result, the group says, the students either work so much that they hurt their chances of succeeding academically, or turn to riskier and more expensive private loans instead. The report examines the reasons why some community colleges shun the federal loan program and how their decisions hurt their students.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the formal launch Thursday of the new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, about which university officials are very excited. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities anticipates that the institute, which will replace the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the Agriculture Department's chief provider of academic research funds, will significantly boost the amount of federal funds for ag research that flows to universities. Also Thursday, a conference committee of the U.S. Senate and House approved a compromise spending bill for the Agriculture Departnt that would increase spending on agricultural research to $2.767 billion in 2010, up $174 million over 2009. The National Institute of Food and Agricultur would receive $1.343 billion, $176 million more than what President Obama requested.
An Evergreen State College professor has been placed on leave after an audit revealed that he could not account for at least $50,000 that he collected from students for study abroad trips he organized to Chile, The Seattle Times reported. Thirteen students have settled a dispute with the college over payments and are receiving refunds.
In an attempt to show that there are no "trick questions," the University of Oxford has for the first time released samples of interview questions used in the admissions process, The Times of London reported. Mike Nicholson, Oxford’s director of admissions, told the newspaper: "The interviews are all about assessing academic ability and potential.... The aim is to get candidates to use their knowledge and apply their minds to new problems while allowing them to shine. No special knowledge is required and there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.” Among the questions released: "What is language?" and "Why might it be useful for an English student to read the Twilight series?"
The 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded this morning to Herta Müller, a German writer of novels, short stories and essays, "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed," according to the Nobel committee. Müller was born in Romania, where her family was a member of the German minority in that country, and her writing and activism in opposition to the CeauÅŸescu’s dictatorship led to her censorship in Romania, clashes with the government and her eventual move to Germany. The University of Nebraska Press published her book Nadirs (in a translation by Sieglinde Lug, a professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Denver). Two of her books are available through Northwestern University Press: The Land of Green Plums and Traveling on One Leg.