In a rare move among private institutions, Notre Dame de Namur University in California has agreed to recognize a faculty union that includes tenured and tenure-track professors. A majority of tenure-line faculty members voted last week to join an existing part-time faculty union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. In the midst of that organizing campaign, Judith Maxwell Greig, university president, recommended to Notre Dame de Namur’s Board of Trustees that the university no longer invest full-time faculty with managerial authority, so as to legally allow tenure-line professors to unionize if they chose to do so.
According to the 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning Yeshiva University, tenure-line professors are considered managers and not entitled to collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. A more recent decision from the National Labor Relations Board concerning Pacific Lutheran University outlined a series of new tests for assessing faculty members’ managerial status, but several recent bids involving tenure-line faculty unions on other campuses have been rejected under the new standards. Notre Dame said in a statement that its decision was “considered,” and that “internal university governance processes will be changed to adapt” to the faculty’s choice. It has signed a voluntary election agreement with SEIU.
Kim Tolley, president of education at Notre Dame de Namur and president of its Faculty Senate, in a separate statement called the development “historic” and “hard-won.”
William Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York, agreed that the decision was “significant." It's the first new private sector bargaining union since 2010, when the American Federation of Teachers was certified to represent a unit at the Longy School of Music, he said. Prior to that, in 2001, United Auto Workers Union was certified to represent faculty members at Goddard College. The American Association of University Professors was certified to represented tenured faculty at Delaware Valley College in 1994.
“The election at Notre Dame de Namur is another clear sign of the growth of unionizing efforts on private sector campuses,” Herbert said.
The University of Akron announced Tuesday morning that its controversial president, Scott L. Scarborough (right), is stepping down today, by mutual agreement with the board.
Scarborough has been involved in repeated controversies during his less than two years at Akron. He has led efforts to make significant budget cuts, which would have been controversial even if he had not been spending money on renovating his university home. Many were shocked by the $951,000 in renovation costs, and in particular $556.40 on a decorative olive jar (without any olives).
Some of his controversial decisions were reversed. He tried to eliminate the jobs of everyone at the university press (but then pulled back on that). And just last week he ended a relationship with a local company to supplement its student advising and mentoring staff. The company, Trust Navigator, had no other higher ed customers, and the move came soon after the university eliminated numerous positions in its student success division. And the $840,000 price tag seemed to many to be too high for a university that was struggling with enrollments and revenue.
Baylor's athletics director, Ian McCaw, has resigned, the university announced Monday. McCaw's decision came days after Baylor's Board of Regents fired the university's head football coach amid allegations that the world’s largest Baptist university has continuously mishandled -- and sought to suppress public discourse about -- sexual assaults committed by its football players and other students. Baylor's president, Kenneth Starr, stepped aside on Thursday at the board's urging.
The board chose not to fire McCaw last week, though it did place the athletics director on probation for his role in mishandling allegations against players.
“After much reflection and prayer, I have decided that a change in athletics department leadership is in Baylor University’s best interest in order to promote the unity, healing and restoration that must occur in order to move forward," McCaw said in a statement Monday. "I have always sought to put the University’s needs ahead of my own. My time at Baylor has been an incredible journey filled with some of the most remarkable people I have ever known. I am grateful to Baylor Nation for its support and dedication, and to all who have done so much to advance the athletics program.”
Greg McGarity, athletic director of the University of Georgia, has apologized for the terms of the contract with Ludacris (at right), a rapper who performed at the university's spring football game, The Athens Banner-Herald reported. Speaking at a meeting of the athletics department's board, McGarity said that “I do want to take this opportunity to apologize to our board for mistakes we made with certain aspects of the details of an entertainment agreement." The comment was a reference to the contract with Ludacris. He was paid $65,000 for a 13-minute performance. But much of the criticism has focused not just on the fee, but on all of the items that the contract required the university to provide Ludcris, including six Hanes t-shirts, two bottles each of cognac and vodka, one bottle each of red and white wine, two cases of Snapple and a box of condoms. Deadspin published the full list.
For years, some bodies donated to the medical school of New York University ended up in mass graves, despite promises by the university that the bodies would not be disposed that way, The New York Times reported. NYU officials have apologized and said that the practice has been halted.
Mainline Protestant theological schools are exploring mergers and campus sales as they feel a prolonged enrollment and financial pinch, but experts see smaller institutions bubbling up under different faiths.
A jury ruled Thursday that Virginia Wesleyan College was not liable for the 2012 rape of a female student. The former student filed a lawsuit in 2014, seeking $10 million and alleging that the university "turned a blind eye" to the fact that "male students were drugging female students, rendering them incapacitated and raping them." The alleged rapist was a member of the college's lacrosse team. The university found that the man had assaulted the female student and originally dismissed him, according to the lawsuit, but later allowed the athlete to withdraw voluntarily, instead, and play lacrosse at another institution.
"The jury correctly rejected [the] claim that Virginia Wesleyan College failed to take reasonable and adequate steps for the safety of its students," the college said in a statement. "The college is pleased with the jury’s affirmation of its efforts to provide a safe and secure learning environment for all of its students."
Nearly 1,500 people have signed a petition demanding that Kenneth Starr remain president of Baylor University. Facing pressure from the university's Board of Regents, Starr is expected to resign after months of allegations that the university has continuously mishandled sexual assaults committed by football players and other students.
"Ken Starr is a wonderful genuine leader," one Baylor alumna wrote on the petition. "Anyone that has ever met him can say the same and has. No one has gone through life without making mistakes. That does not take away from his heart and his intentions. Ken Starr loves Baylor and the students, so sincerely. I can't and don't want to imagine Baylor without him."