Adjuncts at Seattle University seeking recognition of their Service Employees International Union-affiliated union are planning to fast on Thursday. The adjuncts held a union election nearly two years ago, but the university has filed a series of appeals saying its religious affiliation puts it outside the National Labor Relations Board's jurisdiction. The votes remain uncounted.
"We voted nearly two years ago and the [university] administration continues to deny us," Ben Stork, a film studies instructor, said in a statement. "We cannot eat well unless we have a seat at the table." The university did not provide immediate comment on the protest. Seattle is one of many religious institutions that have opposed adjunct unions on religious grounds in recent years.
Many full-time faculty members at Tallahassee Community College are protesting a plan by the new provost, Feleccia Moore-Davis, to require them to teach five courses a semester, The Tallahassee Democratreported. Florida statute requires five courses a semester but allows professors with various service duties to teach four courses. Moore-Davis has noted that the vast majority of faculty members obtain such waivers and has said it is not efficient to have widespread waivers. Professors respond that they do considerable work outside of their courses, so the waivers are justified. Further, professors say, the proposal was made without sufficient consultation.
The Hartwick College faculty voted no confidence Monday in President Margaret Drugovich, The Daily Star reported. Many professors have been angry since the summer, when Drugovich eliminated 18 nonfaculty positions. Some faculty members, however, reached out to the newspaper to express support for their president, saying she was leading the college through difficult times. The board chair also released a statement saying that the board has "complete confidence" in the president.
Two graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley are accusing the institution of giving their faculty harasser a slap on the wrist. Kathleen Gutierrez and Erin Bennett are considering suing the institution for failing to do enough to stop Blake Wentworth, assistant professor of South and Southeast Asian studies, from sexually harassing them, according to The Guardian. Wentworth allegedly made sexual comments, the women said, and while a university investigation determined that he made “unwanted sexual advances,” the professor has reportedly received no formal discipline. Several other women have filed additional complaints.
The news comes after two other similar cases at Berkeley this academic year involving another professor and a dean. Last week, Berkeley released hundreds of pages of investigation records involving 19 employees found guilty of misconduct by the university's Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, 11 of whom resigned or were terminated, The Guardian reported -- but no tenured professor was fired for sexual harassment. Wentworth denied the allegations to the newspaper and said he was being “railroaded.” The university said disciplinary proceedings in his case are pending, according to The Guardian.
While many academic disciplines are experiencing a tight job market, faculty job openings in communication are increasing, according to an analysis from the National Communication Association. The association identified 802 openings in 2015, up from 752 the year before and 351 as recently as 2009. The top five specializations sought in job listings: strategic/public relations/advertising; mass communication/media studies; organizational; digital/emerging/new media; and journalism.
The Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin System on Friday unanimously approved a set of amendments to a layoff policy for the Madison campus that many faculty members opposed. The changes -- such as the elimination of guaranteed severance and the stipulation that the university will “consider” alternative appointments faculty members pegged for layoffs for budgetary or educational reasons rather than “pursue” them -- were previously approved by the board’s Education Committee.
Ray Cross, system president, said the final Madison policy protects “the principles of academic freedom and sustain[s] the university’s standing in a competitive, global marketplace for faculty expertise.”
Campus Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who previously supported the faculty-backed layoff policy drafted in response to major changes to the legal definition of tenure in Wisconsin last year, said in a statement that what the regents approved “is consistent with our peers. This is important in our ability to recruit and retain our top faculty. … After a difficult nine months of debate, I hope everyone will give this new policy a chance.”
Faculty members on Twitter and elsewhere disagreed with those assessments, arguing that the changes made a significant dent in shared governance.