Advice for department chairs on managing conflict (essay)

Academic departments can encounter conflict from many angles, and it can undermine chairs if they don't manage it well. Patricia Price and Scott Newman offer advice on how they can do so.

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U. of California Delays Tuition Increase

The University of California System has pushed back a planned 5 percent tuition increase from the summer quarter to the fall quarter, The Sacramento Bee reported. The move comes amid discussions between system officials, who say the increase is needed, and Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat who wants the increase to be abandoned. University officials have indicated that with more state support they might not need the tuition increase. “We are doing this as a good-faith gesture, optimistic that the ongoing negotiations will bear fruit,” said Janet Napolitano, president of the university.


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Big 12 Conference Announces New Concussion Policy

The Big 12 Conference announced a new policy for diagnosing and managing concussions Wednesday, requiring member institutions to follow guidelines released in July by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and giving full autonomy to medical staff in deciding when an athlete can return to play.

“Our membership has developed a comprehensive diagnosis and management policy that asserts the unchallengeable authority of medical practitioners in overseeing the welfare of our student-athletes in this very important area,” Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12, said. “This policy goes beyond what was approved during the recent N.C.A.A. Autonomy Governance, and puts all associated protocols where they belong: in the hands of trained medical staff.”

The policy approved during the Power Five conferences' autonomy rule-making session last month was much contested, as it did not give medical staff the final say in concussion protocols and whether a player could return to the field.

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Illinois Governor Seeks Nearly $387M in Higher Ed Cuts

Illinois's new governor, Bruce Rauner, this week proposed a $387 million cut to the state's higher education budget. About $209 million of that will come from the University of Illinois -- that's nearly one-third of the system's state subsidy. 

"A budget cut of that magnitude would substantially harm our students and the people of Illinois by most severely impacting the university’s core education and research missions," Robert Easter, the president of the three-campus system, said in a statement. He promised to vigorously lobby against the cuts. While the governor is a Republican, Democrats have the majority in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois is one of the few states to see dramatic increases in higher ed spending in the last few years, but none of the money has gone into the classroom -- instead, the state has been ponying up hundreds of millions of dollars to fund a broken pension system.

New Leader for Community College Network

Karen A. Stout, president of Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, has been named president & CEO of Achieving the Dream, a network of community colleges focused on "evidence-based institutional improvement." She replaces William E. Trueheart, the group's founding president.

Stout became president of Montgomery County in 2001. The institution has been a part of Achieving the Dream, which she said "helps build capacity one college and one community at a time.”

U. Illinois-Springfield Professors Form Union

Tenure-line faculty members at the University of Illinois at Springfield have formed a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. The new union has 137 members, who organized under the following platform: negotiate for “fair” wages and benefits, share governance with the administration and advocate for the rights of students without fear of professional retaliation.

Faculty members at Springfield’s sister institution, the University of Illinois at Chicago, also are organized with AFT (along with the American Association of University Professors) and signed their first union contract last year. A Springfield spokesman said the university respects faculty members’ right to decide whether or not they want to be represented by a union, and that the union “will have the power to act and speak for faculty in required group-level negotiations on wages, hours and conditions of work.” Some 71 eligible members signed cards in favor of the union, according to information from the university. 

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Essay on why faculty members should seek jobs as administrators

Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt writes that it's important for faculty members to consider and go after jobs as administrators.


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Florida Court Upholds Rules on Faculty Contracts

A Florida appeals court has upheld, 2-to-1, regulations imposed by the State Department of Education on faculty contracts at the state college system in Florida, CBS Miami reported. The rules have been opposed by faculty leaders in the state, who have argued that the board exceeded its authority in imposing them. Among the most controversial requirements are an extension from three to five years of the period of time before instructors are eligible for a continuing contract equivalent in some ways to tenure, and a requirement that contracts be awarded in part based on "student success." Faculty members say the latter provision will effectively punish those who teach at-risk students.


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New presidents or provosts: Angelo Bridgewater Illinois KCTCS Middlebury Midlands Siena UNLV

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  • Jay Box, chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, has been chosen as president there.

Paper explores earnings of students who fail to complete community college

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A new paper measuring the economic outcomes for students who drop out of community college programs finds that earnings vary based on the number of credits earned and courses taken. 


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