AAUP Foundation Grants Steven Salaita $5K

The American Association of University Professors Foundation is granting $5,000 in temporary financial aid to Steven Salaita, via its Academic Freedom Fund. The controversial scholar, who is currently jobless, is contesting the revocation of his tenured faculty appointment to the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The institution pulled Salaita's offer this summer due to his anti-Israel remarks on Twitter, which many have called uncivil and unbecoming of an academic. Still, many of those who object to Salaita's tweets say they are protected speech and should not have cost him his appointment.

Both the foundation's governing board and the greater AAUP say that Salaita wasn't fired or "unhired," but rather "barred from teaching" the classes he already had been assigned to teach this semester. AAUP maintains this kind of "suspension" should be paid. The University of Illinois Board of Trustees formally rejected Salaita's professor candidacy last month, indicating he does not have a job there.

A faculty committee at the university is looking into the circumstances surrounding Salaita's retracted offer. A spokeswoman for Salaita's legal team at the Center for Constitutional Rights said he is preparing to file a lawsuit.

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Six Athletes Cut Suddenly from Tennessee Track Team

When Beth Alford-Sullivan was hired to replace the University of Tennessee's recently fired women's track coach this summer, she publicly promised to keep all 16 of the program's newly recruited athletes. At the end of September, however, Alford-Sullivan released six members of the team after just two weeks of practice, the Knoxville News-Sentenial reported.

Parents of the six athletes said Alford-Sullivan told the women that they did not "fit into the direction her and her staff are going in." Three of the athletes had received substantial athletic scholarships. The university said it will honor the scholarships through the end of the school year. The coach's decision to release the athletes comes at a time when many colleges in wealthier leagues -- including some in the Southeastern Conference, of which Tennessee is a member -- are vowing to end one-year renewable scholarships and the uncertainty that comes with them.  

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After Plagiarism Probe, College Strips Senator's Degree

The U.S. Army War College has stripped U.S. Sen. John Walsh, a Montana Democrat, of his master's degree, the Associated Press reported. Walsh's office said Friday that the college had revoked his degree following an investigation into plagiarism allegations regarding a 2007 paper he wrote while he was student there. The allegations came to light this summer, when The New York Times reported that large chunks of his paper had been lifted from other sources, without proper attribution. Walsh said he disagreed with the college's findings, but accepts the decision.

George Mason Grad Students Release Adjunct Study

The Public Sociology Association, made up of graduate students at George Mason University, has published what adjunct advocates are calling the most comprehensive study of one institution’s adjunct faculty working conditions ever. Their report, called “Indispensable but Invisible,” is based on an online survey completed by 241 adjuncts at George Mason.

The vast majority of respondents (85 percent) say that they are motivated to teach by their passion for education and their respective disciplines, but only 26 percent believe the uncompensated time they devote to the job – about five hours per class per week, on average – will be recognized by the university. Some 40 percent say they aspire to tenure-track jobs, but many express concern that they will not be considered for such positions due to their adjunct status. About a quarter of respondents (23 percent) have an annual household income of less than $30,000. One-third are also graduate students, and 51 percent of those respondents say that teaching responsibilities slow down their progress to graduation.

“Significant minorities” of respondents didn’t receive course resources such as curriculum guidelines (29 percent) and sample syllabuses (19). Some 40 percent said they didn’t have access to a computer and 21 percent said they didn’t have access to copying services. Most are using their own computers (77 percent) and office space (56 percent). Most (79 percent) say they have not received training to accommodate students with unique or special needs.

Marisa Allison, report's lead author, said it’s significant because it captures such a rich picture of adjunct faculty working conditions at a single institution. (At the same time, the report acknowledges that a minority of those invited to respond did, which could have skewed to reflect the positions of those most motivated to respond.) Allison said it was the group’s “genuine hope” that the survey tool could be used elsewhere  to gather data on adjunct faculty working conditions.

Gary Rhoades, director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona, said the new survey is a "model of how local contingent activists can identify and hopefully take concrete steps in improving working and learning conditions, as part of beginning to reduce the structural" issues surrounding non-tenure-track faculty employment. Local activists, faculty unions and academic administrators on other campuses "should be following their lead," he added.

Via email, S. David Wu, provost, said: “We are concerned about our faculty members and are committed to their professional growth, wellness, and well-being. We are also pleased to see our students pursuing research that is of critical importance to our community. While we would agree that there is a need for more research and dialogue around the issues raised, the study’s findings are not consistent with the environment here or the services we provide.”

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Colby's New Leader Has Presidential Family

The new president of Colby College, David Greene, comes from quite the presidential family. The Boston Globe reported on Greene, who is the son of a former college president (Richard, who led St. Thomas University, in Florida, and Goddard College) and the brother of a current president (Thomas, of the Vermont College of Fine Arts). The photos below, courtesy of Colby, show the father ex-president marching at the inaugural of David, with David (top photo) and Thomas (bottom photo).

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Florida State's Ever-Growing Football Scandal

Florida State University continues to face damning news reports about Jameis Winston, its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who has been accused of rape, and other members of the football team and their alleged crimes:

  • The New York Times reported Saturday on a pattern in which football players are accused of crimes and local police officers look the other way. "From criminal mischief and motor-vehicle theft to domestic violence, arrests have been avoided, investigations have stalled and players have escaped serious consequences," the article says.
  • Fox News, citing a lengthy investigation and documents obtained under open-records requests, reported that "Florida State University officials and Tallahassee police took steps to both hide, and then hinder, the criminal investigation into a rape allegation against" Winston. (Winston has said that the accusations stem from consensual sex.)
  • ESPN reported that Florida State, which has insisted that it did nothing to hinder the investigation and which has noted repeatedly that local authorities declined to charge Winston, notified him on Friday that he would face student disciplinary charges in the incident, which took place in December 2012.
  • Florida State on Friday issued a statement insisting that it "does not tolerate sexual assault," and criticizing media coverage. The statement noted that the university is constrained in what it can say because of federal privacy laws. While the statement does not name Winston, it appears to be a defense of the university's conduct in the case.


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Higher education on the ballot

Smart Title: 

This year's referendums include issues of governance, facilities, minimum wage and more.

City of Boston Pushes Colleges to Build More Dorms

City officials in Boston are urging area colleges to cut in half the number of students who live off campus, The Boston Globe reported. Under a new city housing plan, colleges are being encouraged to work with developers to collectively add more than 18,000 new dormitory beds by 2030. The plan comes amid growing concerns that many students live off campus in unsafe housing.


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Suit Says College Allows Alleged Rapist to Withdraw

Virginia Wesleyan College allowed a student accused of sexual assault to voluntarily withdraw from the institution so that he could attend college elsewhere, the Virginian-Pilot reported. The student was originally dismissed after the college found him to have sexually assaulted another student, but the college later decided to allow him to withdraw instead, which "may assist him in seeking further studies," according to a letter written by the college's vice president that was included in a lawsuit filed by the victim. The woman, who said she was raped for five hours in 2012, is suing the university for $10 million.

"While the college sympathizes with Jane Doe, Virginia Wesleyan denies any allegation of improper conduct and will vigorously defend this lawsuit," Mark C. Nanavati, Wesleyan's lawyer, stated. "The safety of the college's students is of paramount importance and something Virginia Wesleyan strives to accomplish on a daily basis."

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Athletes File Class Action Against Networks, ESPN

Ten former college basketball and football players are suing ESPN, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and eight National Collegiate Athletic Association conferences, claiming that their images were used without their permission because the waiver signed by college athletes is not a legal, or enforceable, likeness release. The athletes accuse the networks and conferences of "exploiting" NCAA rules to profit off their likenesses, Courthouse News reports. The class action is similar to the lawsuit filed by former college basketball player Ed O'Bannon, in which a federal judge ruled against the NCAA, saying that the association violated antitrust laws when it forbade athletes from profiting off their likenesses being used in video games.

"The conspiracy between and among the broadcast defendants, licensing defendants, conference defendants and the NCAA has created a marketplace resembling a plantation type arrangement where defendants financially benefit in the collective amount of billions of dollars, while student athletes, the driving force of college sports, receive nothing more than their cost of attendance," the athletes state in the lawsuit.


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