Saint Louis University is putting aside $13.4 million for salary increases for faculty and staff in the coming school year, something its embattled president, the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, said he hoped would demonstrate the university’s recognition “of the important contributions of all our employees” in an announcement early this week. (The president and faculty have been at odds since last year, when he backed a controversial plan to require faculty to requalify for tenure every three years.)
But by midweek, Saint Louis faculty were accusing Biondi of retaliating against professors who had spoken out against him by way of forfeited raises. At Saint Louis, salary recommendations are based in part on performance, and some professors said they didn’t get what their deans had recommended to the university’s senior academic officer, Ellen Harshman. “The system is supposed to be transparent, fair and merit-based,” said Jonathan Sawday, professor of English, in a news release from the university’s American Association of University Professors chapter. “This year, in some cases, it looks like it wasn’t any of those things.”
Steve Harris, professor mathematics and computer science and AAUP chapter president, said statistical analysis showed “irrefutable” evidence that targeted faculty were “largely those – both lay and Jesuit – who opposed the president who had their salary recommendations reduced by [Rev.] Biondi.” Harris said his own dean recommended him for a 3.75 percent raise, but he only received a 1 percent raise. "The difference is $2,000," he said in an e-mail. "This is typical of the most vocal of the opponents."
In a statement to all faculty, Jane Turner, Faculty Senate president and professor of pathology, said members of the senate’s executive committee “believe that all such acts of retaliation warrant serious scrutiny and that the president should be held accountable for this action by informing the affected faculty members of the reasons supporting his decision to overrule the recommendations of the respective deans.”
In an e-mailed statement, Clayton Barry, university spokesman, said that 98 percent of all eligible full-time faculty and staff received salary increases beginning July 1, and that those publicly charging Biondi with retaliation included those who received raises. (Harris said that was true, but that the raises were less than had been recommended.) “The salary review process was the same this year as it has been for the past 30 years,” he said, “and each year some salary recommendations – faculty and staff – are increased and some are decreased during the process.”
Harshman did not immediately return a request for comment, nor did Rev. Michael D. Barber, dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences.
Leaders of the Pac-12 Conference's member universities have written the National Collegiate Athletic Association to question whether for-profit institutions should be allowed to participate in Division I athletics, according to CBSSports.com. The inquiry follows the transition of Grand Canyon University, a publicly traded for-profit, to Division I, which began last month. Grand Canyon is joining the Western Athletic Conference, where its men's and women's basketball teams will compete.
The Pac-12 CEOs did not specifically criticize Grand Canyon's jump to the big time. Instead they said they wanted to share their broader concerns about institutions that are responsible to investors participating in Division I. Larry Scott, the league's commissioner, told the website that Pac-12 universities had discussed not playing Grand Canyon in any sport. The league includes Arizona State University, which is near Grand Canyon's campus.
Ohio Representatives Robert F. Hagan and Mike Foley announced Tuesday that they would propose legislation, similar to a plan recently adopted in Oregon, that could eventually result in students paying no tuition while in college but agreeing to pay a percentage of their wages once employed after graduation. Like the Oregon law, the Ohio legislation does not create any immediate policy changes but would task the state's executive agency with developing a pilot program that would go before lawmakers for approval in two years.
Proponents of such legislation say it will help remove the cost barrier that might keep students from pursuing a college education and might make it easier for students to repay, since payments will be linked to income. “This is a unique opportunity for the state to actively address a real problem that has haunted so many young people for far too long,” Foley said in a news release. “The inaction on student loan debt is very real, and I think too many young people are wondering why their government has failed them in this regard.” Opponents have challenged the feasibility of such plans, as well as whether they put too much of the burden for paying for college on students, rather than governments and parents.
The State University of New York Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to spin off the nanotechnology college at the system's Albany to create a freestanding institution, despite some members' concerns about the move, the Albany Times-Unionreported. Supporters of the move, including SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and a panel she had appointed, said that allowing Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering to become an independent, degree-granting institution would better allow the nanotechnology program to achieve its goals. Three trustees opposed the move for a range of reasons, which comes as SUNY has sought (with mixed success) to streamline administrative costs by combining leadership of some campuses.
Kent State University's former men's basketball coach breached his contract when he left the institution for a job at Bradley University in 2011, an Ohio judge ruled Tuesday in awarding Kent State $1.2 million, The Akron Beacon-Journal reported. The $1.2 million award would cover the four years (at a salary of $300,000) that were remaining on Geno Ford's contract when he left a year after his deal had been renegotiated. Ohio's attorney general, Mike DeWine, said in a news release that “Ohio’s public colleges and universities have a duty to students and taxpayers to be wise stewards of tuition and taxpayer moneys.”
Kent State is also suing Bradley for its role in Ford's hiring.
American research universities are coming under increasing cyberattacks, most likely from China, forcing them to step up security, The New York Times reported. The article cites institutions facing as many as 100,000 hacking attempts a day, and quotes an Educause official saying that the attacks have "outpaced our ability to respond."
Robert Barchi, the new president of Rutgers University, already under fire for athletic scandals, is now receiving scrutiny for his corporate ties. The Record reported that he is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to serve on the advisory boards of two private companies that do business with Rutgers. The Rutgers board approved the arrangement and Barchi said he does not involve himself in university decisions involving the two companies. But some ethics experts said that the arrangements still raised issues about conflicts of interest.