faculty

Nobel Laureate Won't Allow Guns in Class, Despite Law

One of the most famous professors at the University of Texas at Austin said this week that he plans to ban guns from his classroom, despite a new state law that will allow concealed weapons across campus, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The new law has already attracted lots of faculty opposition, but the pledge from Steven Weinberg, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics and the Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Chair in Science and Regental Professor at Austin, gives the cause new weight. That's in part because critics of the law have said it could make it harder for Texas institutions to recruit and retain top professors. “I will put it into my syllabus that the class is not open to students carrying guns,” Weinberg said at a Faculty Council meeting, drawing sustained applause. “I may wind up in court. I’m willing to accept that possibility.”

At the meeting, the council voted to approve five resolutions about the new campus carry law, including one calling for classrooms to be gun-free. Under the law -- set to take effect at public universities this summer and community colleges in 2017 -- people may now take concealed weapons into campus buildings (an earlier law permitted guns on campus but not explicitly inside classrooms or other indoor spaces). Campus presidents are permitted to establish guidelines related to specific safety concerns, but they can’t prohibit weapons outright. Gregory L. Fenves, Austin’s president, is expected to announce his guidelines next month.

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Indigenous professor denied tenure claims narrow focus on peer-reviewed publications is discriminatory

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A professor of indigenous ancestry who lost a tenure bid due to a lack of peer-reviewed publications is claiming the university was biased in discounting her "nontraditional" scholarship.

Tips for managing controversies that result from research (essay)

What should you do if your research lands you in controversy? M. V. Lee Badgett offers advice.

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Mizzou Professor Who Blocked Journalist Is Charged

Melissa A. Click, who was roundly criticized after she blocked a student journalist and called for "muscle" to block others at a protest at the University of Missouri at Columbia, has been charged with misdemeanor assault, The New York Times reported. Click teaches communications at the university. She did not respond to a request for comment. She has previously apologized for her actions but said they were motivated by a desire to help the minority students who were protesting.

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Berkeley Math Lecturer Files for Wrongful Termination

A popular lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley has filed a wrongful termination complaint against the university's board after openly criticizing his department's policies.

In the complaint, a self-identified mathematics lecturer accuses Berkeley of opting, improperly, not to renew his appointment after, among other things, he wrote an open letter critical of the math department. “I believe my employer discriminated and retaliated against me on the basis of my disability, medical leave and engagement in protected activities,” the complaint reads in part.

Though the lecturer’s name was redacted from a copy of the complaint provided to Inside Higher Ed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Alexander Coward wrote such a letter, in which he also revealed he had been hospitalized for depression, and then expanded on it in an October blog post. In the post, Coward, who is widely loved by students, asserts that he wasn’t reappointed because the department was uncomfortable with his teaching style and suppressed evidence of its success.

Both Coward and the university, whose officials said they had not yet seen the complaint, declined to comment. California's fair employment department accepted the complaint and officially granted a right to sue notice.

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Pentagon Wants Psychologists to Lift Interrogation Ban

The Pentagon has asked the American Psychological Association to reconsider a ban it enacted last year on psychologists participating in national security investigations, such as those at Guantánamo Bay, The New York Times reported. The ban was adopted after many psychology professors and practicing psychologists expressed outrage over some of their colleagues helping the military in ways many viewed as unethical. The APA said it would meet soon with the Pentagon to discuss its policies. Military officials have said they don't object to the association adopting ethical standards, but urged the group to avoid a "blanket prohibition" on helping with national security interrogations.

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Humanities R&D Spending Up, on Small Base

From 2005 to 2014, inflation‐adjusted expenditures on humanities research and development increased in every year but one, and in 2014 the total was 75 percent higher than it was in 2005, according to new Humanities Indicator data from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The rate of increase is far greater than for most science and technology fields. But the base for humanities spending is much, much smaller than that of other fields. In 2014, spending for humanities research equaled 0.6 percent of the amount dedicated to science and engineering. Unlike most other forms of research in higher education, humanities research does not rely on federal spending for a majority of its support. In 2014, federal support made up only 19 percent of humanities funding. Details may be found here.

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Jordan Kurland, AAUP Stalwart, Dies at 87

Jordan Kurland, who worked for more than 50 years at the American Association of University Professors, died Saturday morning at the age of 87. He worked for the AAUP up until Jan. 8. His title at the AAUP was associate general secretary, and his job focused on conducting investigations into alleged attacks on faculty rights and academic freedom. As an AAUP resolution honoring him noted, Kurland played a role in more than 90 percent of all of the investigations conducted in AAUP history. Last year, as part of the AAUP's celebration of the organization's centennial, Kurland compiled a list of AAUP investigations he considered particularly significant in each decade of the group's history.

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Professors Vote No Confidence at Loyola New Orleans

The University Senate at Loyola University New Orleans voted 38-10 to pass a measure of no confidence in the president, the Reverend Kevin Wildes, The New Orleans Advocate reported. Professors say cuts Father Wildes has announced are in large part due to poor decisions he made when the university faced earlier financial and enrollment problems. The board has expressed confidence in the president, and board leaders spoke to the University Senate before the vote.

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Grad students should think like entrepreneurs about their careers (essay)

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Grad students need to apply to their career preparation the same entrepreneurial spirit they apply to their academic research, argues James M. Van Wyck.

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