Tufts Full-Time, Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Unionize

Full-time, non-tenure-track arts and sciences faculty members at Tufts University voted by a two-to-one margin to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced late Thursday. The full-time adjunct bargaining unit is the second SEIU faculty unit on campus, after the part-time adjunct unit that formed in 2013. Part-time adjuncts have since won unprecedented gains in their contract, such as longer-term contracts, pay increases and the right to be interviewed for full-time positions. 

“We believed that a union would help us build a real community -- one where all faculty can more effectively contribute to our shared mission of educating students,” Penn Loh, a lecturer in urban and environmental policy and planning, said in a statement. “Coupled with the progress made by our part-time colleagues, today’s victory will no doubt raise the Tufts learning experience to new heights.”

Kimberly Thurler, a Tufts spokeswoman, said via email that the university remained neutral throughout the election process and respected the faculty members' decision. Moving forward, she added, "we hope to work productively with the SEIU as the collective bargaining process begins. It is worth noting that our full-time lecturers already have stable positions, most with multi-year contracts. They have the exact same benefits as our tenure-stream faculty and have received the same average salary increases as tenure-stream faculty." They also play a role in shared governance, she said.

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Women Academics Lack Confidence in Financial Planning

About a third (32 percent) of women professors, administrators and other staff say they lack confidence when it comes to financial planning for retirement, compared to 19 percent of men working in higher education, says a new report from Fidelity Investments. According to a survey of some 700 professionals, about half of whom were professors, more women than men attribute that confidence gap to lack of time for financial planning (45 vs. 33 percent, respectively). Thirty-nine percent of women say they haven't done research about their retirement options, and 34 percent say they don't have enough experience in planning for retirement to feel confident. One-third say they don't know who to talk to in order to get the best advice. 

At the same time, women overwhelmingly (94 percent) want to learn more about financial planning. Sixty-three percent prefer to do so by meeting with a financial professional and 44 percent prefer to research planning options online. More than half of women surveyed -- 56 percent -- don't take advantage of employer-provided guidance, but 86 percent of those women who haven't taken advantage of campus resources said they would do so if: their institutions offered classes during work hours or on-site experts to walk through retirement plan options (31 percent); they were entering a "new life stage" (29 percent); or there was more "awareness" of the type of guidance that was being offered (27 percent).

Alexandra Taussig, a senior vice president at Fidelity, said in a statement that she was encouraged that a majority of women academics are eager to learn more about their retirement options. To build on that momentum, she said, "Women should make sure they are fully involved in their finances and take advantage of their workplace guidance, which most higher education employers provide."

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Impressive Arrival at a Presidential Investiture

Fritz Erickson's investiture as president of Northern Michigan University featured such traditional moments as an inaugural speech and the board chair presenting the chain of the office. But the ceremony started with a video showing a more innovative way to arrive on the scene.



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Three Killed Near UNC Chapel Hill

Three people, including students at University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University, were shot and killed near UNC's Chapel Hill campus Tuesday. The university sent out a number of safety alerts throughout the evening, though police and UNC offered little detail into the nature of the shootings. "We are sensitive to the impact an incident of this nature has on campus and in the community," the university stated. "We understand you want to know the facts as quickly as possible. At the same time, we must respect the job our Chapel Hill police have as they investigate this crime."

Police released the names of the victims early Wednesday, and charged 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks with first degree murder. The victims were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, a UNC dentistry student; Yusor Mohammad, Barakat's wife and a prospective UNC student; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, a student at NC State. All three victims are believed to have been Muslim, fueling speculation that the students may have been targeted for their religion and prompting a number of Twitter users, frustrated at what they believe to be a lack of media coverage, to begin tweeting out the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter. Hicks identifies as an atheist, and is vocally anti-religion.

In a statement Wednesday, police said they believe "the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking," but that they are investigating whether religion played a role in the killing. “We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case," Chris Blue, chief of the Chapel Hill Police Department, said. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly."

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Students criticize Columbia's new sexual assault prevention efforts

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Columbia is introducing a new "sexual respect" education program -- said to include writing poetry and reflection papers -- but activists say the program will do little to prevent sexual assault.

Institute aims to give faculty primer of higher-ed economics

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A project from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest tries to bridge the divide between administration and faculty with primers on college finances.

Competency-Based Education Network Adds Members

The Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) announced Monday that it has added 15 new college members. The Lumina-funded group now features 30 institutions and 4 public college systems, all of which either offer competency-based degrees or are creating them. The C-BEN was created for participants to share information on the emerging form of higher education. New members include several community colleges, a midsized for-profit chain and large universities, including the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Texas System.

Booking Agency Blacklists University

A booking agency that represents musician Jack White has reportedly blacklisted the University of Oklahoma after the student paper printed excerpts of White's contract ahead of a concert there last week. The Oklahoma Daily wrote two articles after obtaining the contract through the state's open records law. One article highlighted White's $80,000 fee while another, snarkier article detailed his tour rider, a document that included stipulations for a steak dinner, "aged salami with a sharp knife" and "FRESH HOME-MADE GUACAMOLE" for the band ("we want it chunky"). The rider also included a detailed recipe for the guacamole and a ban on bananas, stating that "this is a NO BANANA TOUR."

In response, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment -- the agency that booked White at the university and that also represents acts like the Foo Fighters, Pharrell Williams and Alicia Keys -- told the university's Campus Activities Council that it will no longer book artists at Oklahoma until its "policy is modified not to disseminate private information," according to The Oklahoma Daily. William Morris Endeavor Entertainment did not return a request for comment. 

White's management, Monotone, Inc., released a statement Friday saying it and White have not blacklisted the university and clarifying that White did not write the rider himself. "We're not even sure he likes guacamole," Monotone stated. The company also referred to the actions of the student newspaper as "unfortunate, unprofessional and very unwelcoming."

"His contract wasn’t something we leaked," Emily Sharp, the newspaper's assistant arts editor, wrote on Wednesday, after White also called out the staff during the concert. "It is public information that any of you could request. Many newspapers show contracts of celebrities that come into town; this isn’t something The Daily did that’s out of the ordinary. It’s not a hidden document, and it’s not something we had to dig to get. It is available to the public."


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Iowa players file Title IX complaint over dismissal of field hockey coach

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Four field hockey players charge U. of Iowa fired a winning coach because her tough, demanding style -- standard for coaches of male athletes -- was viewed as inappropriate for women.

Colleges start new efforts, rules to confront spread of measles and other contagious diseases

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In response to measles outbreak, colleges make new push on vaccinations. Meanwhile, norovirus spreads in Virginia.


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