'Rushing' the Academic Job Market

Is applying for tenure-track jobs like rushing a series of exclusive sororities? That’s the idea behind a new web video performed and produced by Jillian Weise, an associate professor of creative writing at Clemson University who is currently an editor in residence at The Iowa Review. Throughout the video, Weise is in character as Tipsy Tullivan, a truth-talking, blond-wigged, fake-eyelashed Southern woman reminiscent of (though more verbal than) some of those featured in high-budget sorority recruitment videos.

“Rushing for a sorority is a whole lot like rushing the academic job market,” Tullivan coos. “It costs a lot of money …. So consider whether you are wealthy enough to rush the job market before you do it.”

Tullivan also warns applicants to keep some things “zipped up,” namely one’s disability status. “Just go get yourself into a closet underneath a box of shoes,” she says, since people are “confused” by disability.

The sorority-style video is just one in a series of YouTube videos Weise has created -- many of which center on the notion that disability is still somehow taboo in academe and society at large. Weise said via email that Tullivan is performance art, conceived after an academic conference rejected panels on disability. “The exclusion of disabled academics was absurd,” Weise said. “It required an absurd response. So I invented Tipsy. I was thinking of Emily Dickinson's line ‘Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.’”

“Ableism is bigger than one conference,” Weise added. “So Tipsy continues.”

Tipsy's message in the recruitment video, for example, is, “Come join us! You only need to have the right amount of money and the right identity for the market,” Weise said. “Obviously, something is wrong with that message.”

Tipsy advises that unlike disability status, scholars don’t need to hide their “queer” status. “I wrote the line to question why higher ed seems more at ease with queer theory than, say, critical disability theory,” Weise said, recalling the case of William J. Peace. The disability scholar’s controversial piece in a Northwestern University bioethics journal on his sexual awakening after paralysis was censored in 2014. Two faculty members resigned as a result.

“Why are we uncomfortable with disability in higher ed?” asked Weise, a poet who has written about sexuality vis-à-vis her own disability, including in The Amputee’s Guide to Sex. “Does the disabled academic have free speech?”

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Feds Issue Guidance on Campus Policing

The U.S. Department of Education and the Justice Department on Thursday released guidance on campus policing that draws from the final report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The task force's broad recommendations are designed to "help campus and local law enforcement both keep students safe and safeguard students' civil rights," John King Jr., the Secretary of Education, said in a written statement. The report covers changes to the culture of policing, embracing community policing concepts, ensuring fair and impartial policing, focusing on officer wellness and safety, implementing new technologies, and building community capital.

"We look to the campus policing community both as agents for public safety and advocates for student success," King said. "As you prepare to begin the new academic year, it is important that you focus on the effectiveness of safety enforcement and policing on your campus, as well as analyze and take action on opportunities for improvement."

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Volleyball Players Kneel During National Anthem

Three West Virginia University Institute of Technology volleyball players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before a game on Wednesday. The players, all of whom are black women, said they were kneeling in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the National Football League quarterback who set off a national debate for refusing to stand during the national anthem in protest of racial oppression.

"He's exercising his right to choose to sit or stand, so you have to recognize that he's got that right," Keyonna Morrow, one of the players and vice president of WVU Tech's Black Student Union, told a local news station.

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President Who Took Blue Collar Sabbatical Dies

John Coleman, president of Haverford College from 1967 to 1977, died Sept. 6 at the age of 95. At Haverford, as detailed in this obituary from the college, he was widely praised for his leadership, including ending a rule that banned students with beards or long hair from playing on intercollegiate teams, pushing for coeducation (a campaign that led to his resignation when board members and others disagreed, with the shift not happening until later), promoting the arts and expanding the campus. He also dealt with growing student protests over the Vietnam War -- and did so without creating the divisions that so many of his colleagues at other campuses faced. He is probably best known, however, for a sabbatical he took in which he spent time working in blue collar jobs, such as hauling trash and digging sewer lines. He wrote about his experience in the widely regarded book Blue Collar Journal: A College President's Sabbatical.

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College: Cheaper Fast Food Is 'Benefit' of Being Adjunct

Looking for reasons to teach? What about a discount at Arby’s, Subway or Chick-fil-A? (That last one’s dine-in only.) Adjunct instructors at Motlow State Community College recently received a handout detailing the “benefits” of teaching there part-time. Among them are “recognition,” in the form of eligibility for a Faculty Excellence Award; free Microsoft Office 365 software; and discounts to a number of fast-food restaurants in the Tullahoma, Tenn., area. Goodwill also was on the discount list.

“Thank you so much to all of our adjunct faculty for all you do to support Motlow State! We are so appreciative of your time and effort,” Melody Edmonds, interim vice president for academic affairs, wrote in an email containing the flier attachment. “I hope you find this helpful. It is just some other ways we try and show our gratitude for the outstanding service you provide to our students every day.”

Though well intentioned, the flier struck a nerve with some adjuncts, who criticized it as patronizing and tone-deaf -- including one who wanted to remain anonymous, citing job security concerns. “Getting 10 percent off my (dine-in only!) meal at Chick-fil-A is a perk,” the adjunct said via email. “Health insurance is a benefit. The language in the email itself is also a problem. I thought I was paid to educate students, not serve them.”

Edmonds that the said the benefits flier “was sent out simply to make our adjuncts aware of what is available to them.” The same “benefits are also available to all of our full-time faculty, staff and students,” she said.

Study: College Football Upsets Affect Judges' Sentencing

Judges whose college football teams lose in an upset fashion frequently let their emotions over the loss affect sentencing decisions, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

To reach their conclusion, Naci Mocan and Ozkan Eren, both economics professors at Louisiana State University, examined every defendant case file from 1996 to 2012 for juveniles in the state of Louisiana. Each file contained information about the defendant, his or her offense, and sentence length. Most of the files also listed where the judges in the cases went to college and law school. The researchers then compared this information to LSU football game records.

Mocan and Eren found that in the week following LSU's football team losing a game it was expected to win, judges with bachelor's degrees from LSU doled out harsher sentences, especially to black juveniles. In some cases, a surprise LSU loss resulted in a sentence that was as much as 74 days longer than cases following an LSU win or cases decided by judges who graduated from other institutions. In total, the researchers said, juveniles spent an extra 1,332 days in custody or on probation because a judge may have been in "emotional shock" over an upset.

"These results provide evidence for the impact of emotions in one domain on a behavior in a completely unrelated domain among a uniformly highly educated group of individuals (judges), with decisions involving high stakes (sentence lengths)," Mocan and Eren wrote. "They also point to the existence of a subtle and previously unnoticed capricious application of sentencing."

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New presidents or provosts: Cardiff Fresno Maine Newcastle SCSU Texas Chiro Texas Tech Thomas Wingate

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  • Cara Carmichael Aitchison, vice chancellor of the University of St. Mark & St. John, in Britain, has been selected as vice chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University, also in Britain.

New Federal Report on Remedial Education

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics released a new data analysis this week on U.S. college students who took remedial courses and on who completed them.

The report followed first-time students for the six years from 2003-9. Among community college students, 68 percent took remedial courses, and almost half took two or more. The data showed that 40 percent of incoming students at public, four-year institutions took remedial courses, with 21 percent taking at least two.

About half (49 percent) of community college students completed all their remedial course work, according to the report, compared to 59 percent of students at public, four-year institutions. And 16 percent of remedial course takers at community colleges failed to complete any of their remedial courses, as did 15 percent of students at public, four-year colleges.

State Senator Among Finalists for U of West Florida Presidency

A state senator with connections to several trustees is among four finalists to become president of the University of West Florida.

A presidential search committee on Tuesday narrowed its field of candidates to a list including current university provost Martha Saunders, Senior Vice President of the College Board of New York Frank Ashley and University of Akron Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development Mike Sherman, the Pensacola News Journal reported. It also included a fourth name among its list of finalists: Republican State Senator Don Gaetz.

Gaetz's candidacy had been debated before he even put his name in the running for the presidency at the last minute in August. The News Journal reported his political campaign -- or that of his son, who is a state representative in Florida running for a congressional seat -- received financial backing from at least seven of 20 presidential search committee members and six of 13 university trustees. Gaetz was also the only one of 19 candidates to be considered who has never worked for a higher educational institution.

Gaetz's background in education includes time as a school district superintendent and school board member. He also co-authored Florida legislation awarding funding to universities meeting certain metrics. He is reportedly barred by state law from lobbying in Florida for a university for two years after he leaves the Legislature.

When he applied for the president position, Gaetz, said he was only interested in the University of West Florida.

"Northwest Florida is my home, and northwest Florida is not just where my home is, but it’s where my heart is," he said, according to the News Journal. "I'm not looking to be at a college institution in Minnesota or Daytona or anywhere else."

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Oberlin President Leaving in June

Marvin Krislov (right) will end his time as president of Oberlin College and Conservatory next summer, he said Tuesday, setting the stage for his departure after a decade including major fund-raising success but recently marked by several controversies on campus.

Krislov's last day as president at the Ohio institution is set to be June 30, 2017, he said in a letter posted online. The date means the president, 56, will have held his position for 10 years when he steps down. It also comes shortly after the institution completed a new strategic plan.

During his tenure, Krislov is credited with raising $317 million for a comprehensive campaign, eclipsing a goal of $250 million. He is also noted for defending liberal arts education's value and pursuing several construction and renovation projects.

"But after 10 years, I know this is the right moment for me to seek new professional challenges," Krislov wrote.

Krislov and Oberlin have in the last year been under the microscope for their handling of situations involving race, ethnicity, academic freedom and freedom of speech. In August Oberlin announced it was putting Joy Karega, an assistant professor who had made anti-Semitic statements on her Facebook page, on paid leave while her conduct was being investigated -- a move made months after the issue sparked debate. Krislov, who is Jewish, had written in March that he was affected by the situation on a personal level but also defended the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Oberlin's Board of Trustees chairman then said the postings were "abhorrent," raising issues that needed to be "considered expeditiously." Some faculty members proceeded to sign a statement condemning Karega's social media postings, and Krislov condemned anti-Semitism, prejudice and bigotry while saying Oberlin took its discrimination policy seriously.

Krislov also drew headlines earlier in the year when he opted not to respond directly to the demands of black students on the grounds those demands rejected the ideas of collaborative engagement and shared governance. Oberlin also offered hundreds of employee buyouts in May in an attempt to save a reported $1.5 million to $3.5 million.

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