Pacific Union College students continue to protest the rumored possible termination of a tenured professor of psychology over his decision to invite an atheist and well-known critic of the Seventh-day Adventist church, with which the college is affiliated, to campus to speak. About 60 students marched across campus and several hundred attended a town hall about the matter last week, the St. Helena Starreported. Others have been active on social media over concerns that the professor, Aubyn Fulton, may be fired for asking Ryan Bell -- a former Seventh-day Adventist turned atheist who is critical of the church's position on such issues as gay rights -- to address a class he was teaching in the fall. The talk never happened, as Heather Knight, college president, canceled the event days prior, according to the Star. But Fulton wrote recently on his Facebook page that he would be fired at the end of the spring quarter for his role in the matter.
Fulton, who has previously clashed with administrators over comments about homosexuality, according to the Star, declined comment. Knight said the professor’s online comments had been “misleading,” and that she had not told him he’d be fired. She also said the college had set up a Academic Freedom Task Force to examine the college’s academic freedom policy. But she said that Fulton had praised Bell as “courageous” and “honest” in his Facebook post -- and that’s a problem.
“If you’re going to bring someone like that who’s repudiated church doctrine, who has publicly attacked the church and publicly attacked God, you wouldn’t want to seem like you’re making this person into a hero,” Knight said. Ideally, she added, faculty members would consult with colleagues or administrators before inviting controversial speakers to campus. There might have been an appropriate way for Bell to address students, she told the Star, but “there wasn’t enough time to figure it out. … We’re not saying students shouldn’t be exposed to these ideas.”
Female Ph.D.s in science and engineering earn 31 percent less than their male cohorts one year after graduation, according to a new study in American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings.When controlling for the fact that women tend to earn degrees in fields that pay less than those in which more men earn degrees, the observed gap dropped to 11 percent. And the gap disappeared when controlling for whether the women were married and had children. "There's a dramatic difference in how much early-career men and women in the sciences are paid," Bruce Weinberg, co-author of the study and professor of economics at Ohio State University, said in a news release. "We can't tell from our data what's going on there. There's probably a combination of factors. Some women may consciously choose to be primary caregivers and pull back from work. But there may also be some employers putting women on a 'mommy track' where they get paid less."
Weinberg’s co-authors were Catherine Buffington and Benjamin Cerf of the U.S. Census Bureau and Christina Jones of the American Institutes for Research. The researchers used previously unavailable data regarding 1,237 students who received Ph.D.s from four U.S. universities from 2007-10 and were supported on research projects while in school. Data included federal funding support the Ph.D. graduates received as students, the dissertations they wrote (used to determine their field of study) and U.S. Census data on where they worked and how much they earned one year after graduation -- as well as their marital and parental status.
Some 59 percent of women completed dissertations in biology, chemistry and health, compared to just 27 percent of men. Men were more likely to complete degrees in fields that tend to be more lucrative, according to the study, including engineering, computer science and physics. About equal percentages of men and women were married, and more men had children. But married women with children saw lower pay one year out of graduate school, according to the study.
Faculty members at three additional University of Wisconsin campuses are planning no-confidence votes concerning Ray Cross, university system president, and the system’s Board of Regents, the Journal Sentinel reported. The proposed measures at Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Green Bay are similar to a resolution passed by the Faculty Senate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison last week, versions of which were quickly adopted by faculty governance bodies at River Falls and LaCrosse.
The resolutions concern Cross’s and the board’s approval of new systemwide layoff policies for tenured faculty members, which many professors said fall short of protections in place before the Wisconsin Legislature took tenure out of state statute last year, and those recommended by the American Association of University Professors.
Cross released a statement after the Madison vote last week in which he said that he wants to work closely with faculty members, but that he also has to "work in partnership" with state leaders. "This state and its people are counting on us, working together, to help improve and expand quality of life and economic prosperity," he said. The board released a statement affirming its support for Cross. A system spokesperson said he had no additional comment.
The non-tenure-track faculty union at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ratified its first contract late last week, after two brief strikes since April over stalled negotiations. Union members’ protests centered on several key issues, including the standardization of multiyear contracts across the university for eligible instructors. The university had stated that it wanted individual academic units to maintain some discretion on contracts, and the parties eventually agreed that after five years, non-tenure-track faculty members will receive “rolling contracts,” or continuous employment, with at least one year’s advance notice of non-reappointment. Longer, multiyear contracts also still may be issued.
The contract also includes a 2.5 percent raise in pay, retroactively for last academic year, and a raise in the minimum full-time salary to $45,000 by 2018, according to information from the American Federation of Teachers- and American Association of University Professors-affiliated union. Notification of reappointment will be issued by May 1 under most circumstances. The agreement includes additional assurances of non-tenure-track faculty participation in governance.
Shawn Gilmore, union president and a lecturer in English, said the contract would “stabilize the working lives of non-tenure-track faculty” and ensure the “long-term support they deserve.” Barb Wilson, interim campus chancellor, and Ed Feser, interim provost, in their own statement said the university is stronger when non-tenure-track faculty members are “integral partners in governance, when their teaching is protected by academic freedom and when they have appropriate predictability and stability in their appointments.” The agreement addresses those priorities, they continued, “without supplanting the roles of the departments and colleges as important stewards of hiring and promotion for our academic programs. It also preserves the flexibility of units to offer multiyear contracts according to their own needs and financial capacity.”