faculty

How to avoid missteps in online programs

Anthony Piña says there are six ways institutions stumble in terms of distance education and provides tips and advice for how to avoid them.

American professor in Denmark says she's being targeted by immigration officials for delivering invited lectures

American professor in Denmark says she’s being targeted by immigration officials for doing what academics do: sharing her findings with the public.

The importance of using humor in the classroom (essay)

Teaching Today

Caroline M. Stanley describes how using humor in the classroom made her a better teacher.

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Study of internal grant proposal review processes demonstrates major return on investment

Many grant proposals are submitted without any kind of internal review. A new study suggests a major return on investment for institutions that help their researchers write better grants.

The changing graduate adviser-advisee relationship (essay)

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How can graduate advisers think strategically about their advisees’ career preparation within the flawed system for Ph.D.s? James M. Van Wyck provides advice.

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Herkimer County CC Adjuncts Unionize

Adjunct professors at Herkimer County Community College in New York voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Tuesday. Some 68 percent of those instructors who voted approved of the bid. The college did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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AAUP Files Brief in Challenge to Campus Carry

The American Association of University Professors filed a joint amicus brief this week in support of a legal challenge to a Texas law permitting handguns on public college and university campuses, including classrooms. AAUP and its partners for the brief, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, say that the law and corresponding campus policies violate faculty members’ academic freedom, since instructors may fear discussing controversial topics with guns in the classroom. The brief pertains to a case brought by several faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin who argued the same. A lower court dismissed the case, finding that the plaintiffs had not shown they’d been harmed by the law. The professors appealed and their case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The “decision whether to permit or exclude handguns in a given classroom is, at bottom, a decision about educational policy and pedagogical strategy,” reads the AAUP brief. “It predictably affects not only the choice of course materials, but how a particular professor can and should interact with her students -- how far she should press a student or a class to wrestle with unsettling ideas, how trenchantly and forthrightly she can evaluate student work.” 

Permitting handguns in the classroom “also affects the extent to which faculty can or should prompt students to challenge each other,” it says. “The law and policy thus implicate concerns at the very core of academic freedom: they compel faculty to alter their pedagogical choices, deprive them of the decision to exclude guns from their classrooms and censor their protected speech.”

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Under New Law, Iowa Unions Vote to Recertify

Faculty union advocates in Iowa were worried earlier this year when state legislators passed a law saying that public-sector unions would have to vote, by a two-thirds majority, to recertify their collective bargaining units before the end of every contract. Yet all seven faculty and graduate student bargaining units passed the new threshold for recertification -- most by wide margins, according to information compiled by the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York. (In one case, the faculty union at Iowa Valley Community College was recertified without an election for a year because the college failed to submit a voter eligibility list to the Public Employment Relations Board.) The new law, which otherwise limits the scope of collective bargaining for public employees, faces ongoing legal challenges.

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Jury awards more than $1 million to trans academic who sued over tenure denial

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Federal jury awards $1.165 million, finding discrimination in tenure denial by Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

GAO Report on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

The Government Accountability Office on Monday released a report called “Contingent Workforce: Size, Characteristics, Compensation and Work Experiences of Adjunct and Other Non-Tenure-Track Faculty.” The paper follows up on a 2015 GAO report that found instructors off the tenure track earn less and have less stable positions than their tenure-track and tenured counterparts. This time, GAO looked at the makeup of the higher education workforce and what professors off the tenure track like and don’t like about their working conditions. Major findings include that non-tenure-track professors teach about 45 to 54 percent of all courses at four-year public institutions and higher proportions at two-year publics. Echoing other data on adjuncts, GAO found that full-timers off the tenure track may have annual or longer-term contracts providing relative job stability, while part-timers have little job stability. GAO also interviewed administrators at select institutions, who said that full-time, non-tenure-track professors often carry heavy teaching loads and sometimes take on additional responsibilities, such as research or advising. Part-timers, meanwhile, focus on teaching alone, interviewees said. 

Based on data from two states, the GAO found that full-time and part-time non-tenure-track professors at public institutions who teach primarily are paid about 75 percent and 40 percent less per course, respectively, than their tenure-link colleagues. When comparing faculty earnings on and off the tenure-track based considering teaching duties only, however, those pay disparities decreased to about 60 percent and 10 percent less per course for, respectively, according to the office. State and national data show that relatively few part-timers received health or retirement benefits from work. 

In discussion groups with the GAO, the non-tenure-track professors “cited advantages such as the flexibility to balance professional and personal responsibilities, skill development or working with students, and described disadvantages that included uncertainty due to short-term contracts, untimely contract renewals, and pay—including a lack of compensation for some of their work,” the report says. Other concerns included  Other concerns included

“limited career advancement opportunities, not having a voice in institutional decision-making, and not having certain types of institutional support.”

The new GAO study is based on data from nationally representative sources and public institutions in thee states: Georgia, North Dakota and Ohio (states were selected largely based on data availability). The office interviewed administrators from nine institutions in those states , plus one large for-profit university, and ran 21 discussion groups with non-tenure-track professors.

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