Duke University's non-tenure-track faculty members have voted, 174 to 29, to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. The announcement of the union election results is a major victory for the SEIU, which is attempting to organize non-tenure-track faculty members nationally.
The vote is particularly significant because it has been many years since a faculty union drive of any type has been successful at a private university in the South. The photo at right shows some of the Duke faculty members celebrating.
Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth issued a statement that said: "While we are disappointed not to be able to continue working more directly with our colleagues, we are glad that together we made some advances this past year that will impact many of our adjunct faculty."
The University of Missouri Board of Curators on Thursday responded to the American Association of University Professors’ planned investigation of the Melissa Click case. Pamela Q. Henrickson, board chair, said in a 10-page letter to AAUP that the termination of Click, the former assistant professor of communication at the Columbia campus who asked for muscle to remove a student journalist and yelled at police during on-campus protests this fall, is fundamentally consistent with AAUP values. That’s despite AAUP’s contention that Click was terminated without an opportunity to appeal to a faculty body, a widely followed standard endorsed by the association.
Henrickson said that AAUP’s statements on such matters don’t establish an absolute right or requirement to such a hearing, and instead focus on matters of academic freedom and tenure. She denied that Click’s case concerns academic freedom or tenure, which she noted the professor did not have. Henrickson also wrote that while the board endorses faculty hearings in midterm dismissal cases, Click’s case was not typical in that existing university procedures failed to address the seriousness of her actions (no one filed a complaint against Click).
“[The board] addressed conduct by Dr. Click that was contrary to those basic expectations and at odds with principles of free expression that animate [AAUP policy],” the letter says. “Indeed, by calling for physical intimidation or violence against a student, Dr. Click engaged in conduct that, if tolerated, would pose a risk to the safety of students and faculty and fundamentally endanger the university’s academic environment.”
Henrickson said the board’s actions do not merit censure by AAUP, in which the investigation could result, but that the body is nonetheless reviewing existing Missouri polices to ensure that it will not have to act on its own in instances of future faculty misconduct. Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of AAUP’s department of academic freedom, tenure and governance, said the association’s investigation will continue as planned, with the investigating committee possibly responding to the board’s concerns in its report.
For the second time, a jury found that the University of Iowa didn’t discriminate against an applicant for a faculty position in the College of Law because he was too old, The Gazettereported. Donald Dobkin, an administrative law attorney who is now 62, first sued the university for age discrimination after he was denied a faculty position in 2008. The job went to a younger candidate with what Dobkin said were inferior qualifications, but a jury sided against him in 2012. He was denied a new trial and lost an appeal.
Dobkin launched a second suit that same year, based on a failed second attempt at a faculty job in 2010 (the job went to a 40-year-old, less experienced applicant, according to the most recent suit). Dobkin alleged discrimination based on age and employment, as well as retaliation for the first suit, but a jury sided against him this week. The university said in a statement that it was “pleased with the jury ruling and the recognition that the law school did not discriminate and did not retaliate.” Dobkin could not immediately be reached for comment, according to The Gazette.