The University of Pennsylvania board on Friday rejected a proposal that it sell endowment holdings in tobacco companies, as faculty and student groups have urged. A statement from David L. Cohen, Penn's board chair, noted that the university has established criteria for divestment, and Cohen said that tobacco did not meet a key criterion: being morally evil. "After thorough deliberation, the board has determined that the tobacco proposal does not meet the criterion of establishing that there exists a moral evil," the statement said. "The linchpin of any divestment decision at Penn rests on the interpretation of moral evil, which we would view as an activity such as genocide or apartheid. We fully appreciate and understand the concerns that were raised by those who advocate divestment, and we recognize that reasonable people may disagree on this issue. Nonetheless, it is the carefully considered judgment of the board that the manufacture and sale of tobacco products – which is widely accepted as legal, although significantly regulated, in this country – does not qualify as a moral evil." Cohen did say that the university would not seek to add tobacco holdings and that it would use its influence in companies in which it invests to promote responsible policies.
Chris Feudtner, a professor of medical ethics who has helped advocate for divestment, had this reaction via email: "Open and vigorous debate can lead to positive change. Today the trustees of the university took action to prospectively divest from tobacco holding, to use what holdings it retains to advocate for the cessation of tobacco marketing to minors and the curtailment of marketing in the developing world, and to avow the university's commitment to improving the health of individuals and the public by diminishing the harm caused by tobacco. While these steps do not constitute total divestment, they represent a victory for better aligning our institutional values and actions."
Education Department proposes new federal regulations that would require universities to report incidents of dating and domestic violence as well as sexual assault, and let accusers and the accused have advisers during disciplinary hearings.
The CEO and two other senior officials of the Harvard Management Co., Harvard University's investment arm, are leaving their jobs or plan to do so soon, following years of disappointing investment returns, Bloomberg reported. For the five years ending June 30, 2013, Harvard saw average returns of 1.7 percent, compared to 6.8 percent at Columbia University and 5.4 percent at the University of Pennsylvania.
The University of Southern California and the Scripps Research Institute are in talks about an affiliation or even an acquisition of the institute by the university, The Los Angeles Timesreported. Scripps is an acclaimed free-standing research institute with campuses in California and Florida. Officials cautioned that there is no imminent agreement, just a continuing discussion.
The Faculty Association at Pensacola State College in Florida has rejected a contract deal in part because course load and overage concerns, the Pensacola News-Journal reported. Paige Anderson, an English instructor who is president of the American Federation of Teachers- and National Education Association-affiliated faculty union, said the proposed contract would have been punitive to the college's vocational, clinical health occupations and collegiate high school faculty. Anderson said the contract called for the elimination of overload for those faculty and a renegotiation of course load "points," so that those instructors would have had to teach 4.5 additional hours per week, to 22.5 hours. The rest of the faculty would have been unaffected, with a 15-credit course load per semester. But Anderson said the move was a show of solidarity for the minority group of affected faculty members and concern over the college's ability to retain and attract health professions faculty, including nurses, under those terms. Anderson said state funding for the affected fields was lower than for other disciplines, and the college was attempting to compensate on the backs of the faculty.
A university spokeswoman said via email that a change in load points would not added hours to the faculty work week, but rather would have shifted hours between teaching, office and "other professional activity hours."
“The college will return to the bargaining table and continue to negotiate in good faith,” President Edward Meadows said in a statement, “and the college will remain focused on fulfilling our mission of providing access to high-quality education.”
The National Labor Relations Board on Friday upheld an earlier, Atlanta-based NLRB judge's decision that Laurus Technical Institute violated the National Labor Relations Act when it enacted a "no gossip" rule for employees, including instructors. The for-profit institution's policy prohibited employees from talking about other employees' personal lives while they were not present, other employees' professional lives if their supervisors were not present, and spreading rumors.
The earlier decision found the policy to be so "overly broad and unlawful" as to prohibit employees from complaining about any aspect of their work lives, and the national board agreed. It also agreed that Laurus was in violation of the labor relations act when it terminated an admissions employee who was found to be in violation of the no-gossip rule. Jeffrey A. Schwartz, Laurus's attorney, said via email that the decision was "not well founded."