Lorin Basden Arnold, dean of the College of Communication and Creative Arts at Rowan University, in New Jersey, has been appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
San Francisco State University has reached an agreement with its embattled College of Ethnic Studies. The college, the only one of its kind in the country, has said it is chronically underfunded, to the point that it can barely sustain operations beyond paying full-time personnel. Facing student protests, President Les Wong said the college was overspending.
The agreement, reached late last week between the university and student hunger strikers, says that central administration will make an additional $482,806 investment in the college, in addition to an earlier $250,000 additional commitment for next academic year. That’s upward of the approximately $500,000 faculty members at the college estimated they needed to close their budget gap earlier this year. The investment includes support for two full-time, tenure-track faculty lines in Africana studies, four work-study positions and the development of a Pacific Islander studies program. The agreement also provides for more regular communication between the college and the university about funding and other needs. All parties have agreed to a silent period through the end of the year.
At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the end of the semester is marked by performances of the President’s Garage Band, including President Mark D. Gearan (keyboard) and many faculty and staff members, including Bill Waller, an economics professor (trumpet); Mark Deutschlander, a biology professor (guitar); Rob Carson, an English professor (guitar); and many others. Below, the band performing "Sweet Caroline" last week.
A regional National Labor Relations Board judge this week dismissed a petition from full-time faculty members at Marywood University to form a union. Using a framework for assessing the merit of such bids laid out in a 2013 decision regarding Pacific Lutheran University, the board officer found that the Marywood professors did not perform specific religious roles that would exempt them from NLRB oversight, as the Roman Catholic university had argued. But the judge did find that the instructors’ jobs were sufficiently managerial in nature to preclude them.
“At most, the documents and testimony introduced by the employer suggest that faculty members are generally expected to support the university’s mission and core values, much of which is expressed largely in nonreligious terms, including respect, empowerment, service and excellence,” Harold A. Maier, a Philadelphia-based NLRB officer, wrote in his decision regarding the religious exemption question. “More critically, [Marywood] did not produce evidence suggesting that faculty have a specific role in promoting its religious mission and values.”
Yet Marywood’s full-time faculty “exercises effective control” over some aspects of university operations, Maier wrote. “The faculty has extensive control over academic programs and a lesser, but still meaningful role in enrollment management and personnel policy and decisions.” And the NLRB has “never required that total faculty control is a prerequisite to finding managerial status.”
Maier’s conclusions are similar to those reached by a separate NLRB office regarding a union bid by full-time faculty members at Carroll College, in January. The two decisions taken together suggest a continued trend against full-time faculty unions at private institutions, even though some onlookers said the Pacific Lutheran decision may have opened doors to them.
Juneann Greco, Marywood spokeswoman, said via email that the decision “provides positive guidance going forward, encouraging our faculty, administration and staff to continue to work together, guided by our Marywood values, in the best interest of our students.” A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, which is part of the National Education Association and with which the proposed union is affiliated, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Moody's, the credit ratings agency, this week said it changed its financial outlook to negative for three of the seven public universities in Kansas. This year the state's budget will strip $17.7 million from public higher education, which represents about 3 percent of the universities' total state support. State government is proposing a further cut of 3 percent next year.
Universities in Kansas are relatively reliant on state funding, Moody's said, which accounts for between 20 and 35 percent of their revenue. Moody's gave the negative outlook to Kansas State University, Wichita State University and Pittsburg State University. The flagship University of Kansas already had that designation.
"The proposed funding reductions by themselves are manageable with continued careful expense containment," Moody's said in its report. "However, declining numbers of in-state high school students and aggressive regional competition are also applying pressure on tuition revenue, the largest source of revenue for all Kansas public universities."
University of Missouri at Columbia graduate employees are suing the university system’s Board of Curators for union recognition, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Graduate assistants voted last month 668-127 to form a union affiliated with the National Education Association. But Hank Foley, interim campus chancellor, reportedly called the vote a “straw poll more than an official tally,” and said that formal union recognition and students' employee status was a matter to be settled by the courts.
The lawsuit asserts that graduate assistants are public employees, and that such workers “have a constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.” Christian Basi, a spokesperson for the Columbia campus, didn’t comment on the legal issue but told the Post-Dispatch that graduate employees are “an integral part” of the university, and that administrators have “continued to work collaboratively with graduate students to address many of their ongoing concerns.”
The university’s sudden -- and almost as suddenly revoked -- announcement last year that it was cutting health insurance subsidies for graduate students built on-campus momentum for a union. Emails recently obtained via open records requests by the Missourian, Columbia’s student newspaper, show how administrators scrambled days before students arrived on campus last summer to understand whether and how new federal guidance on the Affordable Care Act conflicted with health insurance subsidies for graduate student employees.
Leona Rubin, associate vice chancellor for graduate studies, proposed a series of options for dealing with the problem in one email, including, “We can just eliminate the subsidy program, save $4.5 million, and have everyone hate us (more). Legally we can do that since providing the subsidy is breaking federal law and we don’t need to adhere to our offer letters.” She added, “We need to move pretty quick on this as students are arriving and some may be enrolling in the insurance thinking it will be 100 percent paid. Also, our currently enrolled students with health care will lose it in 15 days.”