faculty

Berkeley Finds Professor Guilty of Harassment

Another professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has been found guilty of sexually harassing a student in violation of institutional rules, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. A five-month investigation by Berkeley found that Nezar AlSayyad, a professor of architecture, planning and urban design, spent months becoming close to, or "grooming," a graduate student before placing his hand on her upper thigh and proposing that they travel together to Las Vegas. The Chronicle found two additional allegations of harassment against the professor. In an alleged incident that happened more than 20 years ago and was never investigated, a student complained that she felt taken advantage of after she and AlSayyad had sex; a third student accused him of sexual misconduct this spring, and an investigation is pending. He is reportedly barred from teaching next semester.

AlSayyad denied all allegations of misconduct in an interview and told the Chronicle that he'd fight any suspension from teaching. He said administrators are overreacting to his case for fear of being perceived as soft on sexual harassment. Berkeley was criticized last year for not firing a professor of astronomy found to have sexually harassed a series of graduate students over many years; he eventually resigned. Another assistant professor of South and Southeast Asian studies at Berkeley is currently suing several students for defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress” after they spoke publicly about a university investigation that determined he had violated Berkeley's policies against sexual harassment. That professor is on paid leave as a review of the case is pending. A former law school dean who stepped down after Berkeley found that he harassed his assistant is suing the university, saying that he was treated more harshly that white colleagues accused of harassment because he is of South Asian descent and not a U.S. citizen. The university has said it will fight the suit.

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NYU Promotes 'Deplorable' Professor

An assistant clinical professor of liberal studies at New York University who he said he was strongly encouraged by administrators to take leave after it was revealed he tweeting anonymously as “Deplorable NYU Prof” has been promoted. Michael Rectenwald, the professor, previously stated that he feared his tweets critical of the university and what he sees as overzealous campus inclusion efforts would negatively affect his bid for promotion. The university has repeatedly said that Rectenwald requested leave, and that social media activity in no way affected its actions.

Rectenwald is still on leave. A university spokesperson said Monday via email that he “received an expected promotion to the rank of clinical professor in accordance with our regular procedures; he and approximately 18 others were put up for this promotion at the same time and all were informed at the same time. … It is customary for such promotions to go forward even when a faculty member requests and chooses to take leave, as is the case here.” There are no tenured positions in liberal studies, according to the university, but the promotion comes with a raise.

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Advice to academics for creating and selling online courses (essay)

Kirsten Drickey provides some concrete advice for leveraging your teaching experience and subject matter expertise by teaching online courses beyond the academy.

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Research paper suggests liberal arts colleges are offering more courses outside the liberal arts

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Research suggests that new courses at liberal arts colleges these days may increasingly be coming from practical fields.

Study: Many Physicists May Fear Math

It's difficult to go very far in physics without knowledge of advanced mathematics. But a study in The New Journal of Physics found that physicists pay less attention to theories that are full of mathematical details. Tim Fawcett and Andrew Higginson, both from the University of Exeter, analyzed the number of citations in 2,000 articles in a leading physics journal and found that articles are less likely to be referenced by other physicists if they have lots of mathematical equations on each page.

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How Ph.D. students can demonstrate to employers that they are career ready (essay)

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Joseph Barber gives advice about how to demonstrate to employers specific job competencies: teamwork and collaboration, leadership and project management, professionalism and work ethic, and career management.

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The importance of university recognition of faculty members' public engagement (essay)

Engaging larger publics and influencing policy through one's scholarship can be personally rewarding, but such work too often goes unrecognized in university systems of evaluation, write Joya Misra and Jennifer Lundquist.

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The aftermath of the 2016 national election on student affairs (essay)

The past 18 months leading to the election of Donald Trump last night have been incredibly challenging for us as a nation and certainly for all of us who work in higher education.

The angry and hostile dialogue has left many in our communities feeling unsafe, devalued and marginalized. For many of our students and staff members, the results of the election will magnify those feelings of outrage, despair, hopelessness and genuine fear for their future. It is important to note that after the rhetoric expressed during the election, our Muslim, Jewish, African-American, Latinx, undocumented and LGBTQ students and staff, as well as students and staff members who are sexual assault survivors, will likely have strong emotional reactions to this election outcome.

How do we move forward? First, we need to acknowledge what just happened. About 47 to 48 percent of voters, more than 59 million Americans, sent a clear message that they wanted something different and wanted someone who spoke to their concerns. We live in a fractured and divided country with two very different visions about our future path.

This division and the politics of hate that have surrounded this election make the work we do in student affairs even more important today than it was before the election.

This will not be easy, and it never is. Those of us who work in student affairs will need to take some time to absorb the results of this election, tend to the self-care necessary, support those who are hurting or angry and afraid, and then quickly get back to the work we do: providing support to our students who themselves will be struggling with a range of emotions following the election.

This election does not stop the work we must do to address racial injustice on our campuses and in our communities. It makes it more important.

This election does not stop the crucial work we are doing to increase degree progress and completion for first-generation students, low-income students and students of color. It makes it more important.

This election does not stop the need to support the hundreds of thousands of undocumented students who are on our campuses. It makes it more important.

This election does not stop the work we are doing to engage students in difficult conversations around race, gender identity, religion and sexual orientation. It makes it more important.

This election, and its results, creates an urgency for a new generation of leaders -- leaders who are on our campuses. The work we do to encourage active discourse, protest and activism is core to our democracy and to our need to engage a new generation committed to ideals of inclusion and social justice. This is more important than ever.

The next few months will be critical for our country and our colleges and universities. It is unknown how President-elect Trump will view the higher education sector. NASPA will continue to monitor, teach and provide opportunities for dialogue about these issues within the next few months.

I remain optimistic about the work we are doing in higher education and the role each student affairs professional plays in the lives of our students. Our work has never been more important.

Kevin Kruger is president of NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

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Providence College professor says diversity efforts are stifling the college's religious mission

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Providence College professor says diversity efforts are stifling the college's religious mission, but students, professors and the campus president say he's wrong and his criticisms hurt.

Boulder Revamps Ph.D. Study in Languages, Literature

The University of Colorado at Boulder is revamping doctoral studies in  languages and literature, it announced Tuesday. The change -- in an effort to recruit top talent -- entails restructuring support for six Ph.D. programs into a new Consortium of Doctoral Studies in Literature and Cultures. Programs involved are those in French/Italian, Spanish/Portuguese, German, classics, English and Japanese/Chinese. Accepted consortium students will be guaranteed five years of funding, with the first and fifth years including cost-of-living stipends and zero teaching obligations. Middle years carry a reduced teaching load and a summer stipend.

“With a fifth year dedicated to writing their dissertations, less teaching in the intervening years and support during the summers, students will be able to complete their degrees and enter the job market much earlier than they are able to do now,” Helmut Muller-Sievers, director of Boulder’s Center for Humanities and the Arts, said in a statement. Students also will be encouraged to choose mentors from outside their departments, emphasizing a more cross-disciplinary approach, according to information from the university.

Proponents of the consortium also stressed its inclusion of English, classics and Asian literatures. “Often, universities try to streamline their literature offerings into a generic program in modern European languages, or such,” said Muller-Sievers. “Having Chinese and Japanese in the mix gives students an understanding of non-European traditions and cultures. Also, the inclusion of classics -- of ancient Greek, Latin and classical archaeology -- deepens our students’ understanding of our literary heritage, as well as of the materiality of texts and artifacts. The presence of English gives students access to faculty who are working on today’s most hotly debated topics.”

The Modern Language Association suggested in a 2014 report that humanities graduate programs do what they can to cut time to degree to five years. Stanford University already has moved forward with the idea.

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