Non-tenure-track faculty members at the San Francisco Art Institute, a private, nonprofit college, have voted to unionize with the Service Employees International Union. The vote was 124 to 35. SEIU officials said that nearly 80 percent of the faculty members at the institute are off the tenure track and have no job security. The effort at the institute is part of a larger SEIU campaign to unionize adjuncts in major metro areas. The vote came two weeks after Mills College's adjuncts voted to unionize.
A spokeswoman for the art institute released this statement: "The administration of SFAI acknowledges the decision of the visiting faculty to be represented by SEIU and we remain committed to ensuring an extraordinary future for this beloved institution."
A short new book on becoming an adjunct, Become a Part-Time Professor, got some tough reviews on Twitter over the weekend, with adjuncts objecting to the seemingly carefree existence the book's illustrations suggest are part of the life of those off the tenure track. Illustrations suggest that adjuncts can do their jobs with a laptop from the beach, or from a boat, and don't convey much of the stress one hears from those working as adjuncts. The book is by Lesa Hammond, an administrator at Alliant University, who is also working to create databases to make it easier for colleges to identify potential adjuncts. Some on Twitter were inspired to use the hashtag #clueless. The book also has a YouTube video that conveys some of the tone that is raising eyebrows of those who work off the tenure track.
Via email, Hammond said: "The book is written primarily for professionals who are qualified, but either don’t know how to become an adjunct or who have not considered becoming adjunct faculty. For the right person, a part-time faculty position is a way to help them promote themselves as an expert in their field and it can provide flexibility to live where they want or continue working full-time. The images on the front cover are designed to show that flexibility."
In today’s Academic Minute, Norah Feeny, professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, discusses -- and debunks some myths about -- post-traumatic stress disorder. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Bryan College, facing enrollment declines, is eliminating 20 of the 173 full-time employee positions, The Times Free Press reported. The college is also halting retirement contributions for a year, and imposing salary cuts on top administrators. The cuts come as some faculty members have already quit the Tennessee evangelical college because of a new statement of faith that they say required such a literal interpretation of the Bible that it was impossible for them to teach and sign the statement.
Colleges need to do a better job of promoting tolerance of diverse ideas, said Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, in a Harvard University commencement address Thursday, The Boston Globe reported. Bloomberg cited incidents in which students have questioned selections of commencement speakers or shouted down speakers on campus, and noted that this problem goes beyond campus as well. “Tolerance for other people’s ideas and the freedom to express your own are ... perpetually vulnerable to the tyrannical tendencies of monarchs, mobs, and majorities, and lately we’ve seen those tendencies manifest themselves too often, both on college campuses and in our society," he said. Bloomberg added that “a liberal arts education must not be the art of liberalism."
Some Harvard students this spring questioned whether Bloomberg should be invited to speak. They cited the "stop and frisk" police tactic used in New York City while he was mayor. But many other students -- including some who questioned the tactic -- defended his right to speak.
Faculty members at the University of Southern California have elected Ginger Clark, associate professor of clinical education in the university's Rossier School of Education, as president-elect of the Academic Senate. That means she will automatically become president, which is significant because Clark is off the tenure track. Many university governance bodies don't even let non-tenure-track professors have full voting rights, and it is rare for a non-tenure-track professor to lead a senate.
In today's Academic Minute, Peter McGraw of the University of Colorado at Boulder, draws on his work with Caleb Warren and The Humor Research Lab (HuRL) to answer the question: “What makes things humorous?” Learn more about the Academic Minute here.