The University of Scranton's president has announced plans to end its health insurance coverage of abortion, which was covered only in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the mother was endangered by a pregnancy. A letter to the campus last week from the university's president, the Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, said that coverage of any abortion was inconsistent with the university's Roman Catholic faith. "[T]he moral teaching of the Church on abortion is unequivocal," wrote Father Quinn, citing Vatican documents on abortion. "Circumstances, 'however serious or tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,' and '[n]o one more absolutely innocent could be imagined' than the unborn child."
His letter acknowledged the contract with the faculty union would need to be adjusted and said that he would personally meet with the union's negotiating team to discuss the issue. Michael Friedman, head of the faculty union, said that union leaders were talking to members and gathering opinions before taking a stand on the president's plans. He said he has received numerous calls and e-mail messages about the president's announcement.
Several conference commissioners, based in part on a push by Pac-12 presidents and chancellors, say it is time for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to consider ending the eligibility of freshmen to play basketball, CBS Sports reported. The idea is in play because of frustration of many academic leaders over the increasing practice of star basketball players taking the "one and done" approach of playing a single year in college and then dropping out to join the National Basketball Association. Freshmen were ineligible in college sports until 1972.
In that case -- which many called a major win for unions and a blow to long-standing legal precedents challenging the right of tenure-line faculty members at private institutions and faculty members generally at religious institutions to freely form unions -- the board said adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran could form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. The board based its decision on its opinion that adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran don't perform specific religious functions that might cause them to fall outside its jurisdiction, and on the opinion that the faculty members lacked the managerial duties that might prevent them from forming a union.
A majority of Duquesne adjuncts voted in 2012 to form a union affiliated with the United Steelworkers, but the university appealed their right to form a union, citing its Roman Catholic affiliation. The union has been on hold since. Experts say these remands are largely procedural, but some adjuncts at affected institutions say they're cautiously optimistic that their union bids are one step closer to becoming real.
Also on Friday, the NLRB remanded to a regional office an earlier decision granting Saint Xavier University a review of a regional director’s decision regarding its would-be adjunct union. That remand was made in light of the recent (2014) U.S. Supreme Court decision in NLRB vs. Noel Canning, which successfully challenged the constitutionality of some NLRB appointments made during a Congressional recess. Some have argued that the decisions made by implicated appointees -- including the Saint Xavier decision -- are not legal. The case already had been remanded back to the regional director in light of the Pacific Lutheran decision.
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.
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."