faculty

Court: UT Austin Can't Revoke Chemistry Ph.D.

A Texas appeals court last week granted an injunction to a 2008 chemistry Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin who’s fighting to keep her doctorate after accusations of scientific misconduct. Suvi Orr’s dissertation paper was retracted for unreproducible data in 2012, but she’s since argued that she misread data and didn’t falsify anything. Austin has twice taken the rare step of trying to revoke Orr’s degree, and she’s sued the university each time, arguing that she wasn’t given an opportunity to defend herself and that she’s the “sacrificial lamb” for an ultimately culpable professor, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The injunction says Austin can’t proceed with actions that could result in the revocation of Orr’s Ph.D. -- specifically a disciplinary process that Orr has called a "kangaroo court" -- until a court of law rules on her full complaint.

A university spokesperson said via email that the institution “respects our students' privacy and, as a policy, will not publicly discuss an individual student's academic performance or issues related to it. We will continue to respond to this lawsuit through the appropriate legal channels.”

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FAMU Faculty Members Air Concerns Over Pharmacy Dean

Over a dozen Florida A&M University faculty members detailed their concerns about the dean of the pharmacy college in a letter sent to administrators and the Board of Trustees last week, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.

At an informal discussion in March, faculty members pointed out many issues they had with Michael Thompson, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at FAMU. However, in the letter sent to the interim provost, interim president and Faculty Senate president, the 15 faculty members wrote that those issues had not been addressed.

The letter was written and sent days after one employee at COPPS broke a colleague’s nose during an argument in the lobby of the pharmacy college building, according to The Democrat.

It also comes after FAMU learned its most recent graduates posted a 59.9 percent first-time passing rate on the national licensure exam for pharmacy. With that pass rate, FAMU is last among 129 colleges whose students take the same exam.

The faculty members who penned the letter told The Democrat that it was written as a call for action -- they want to address the low test scores and internal struggles at COPPS and propel the program forward. FAMU’s pharmacy college accounts for 60 percent of the country’s black graduates in pharmaceutical sciences.

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Saint Rose Faculty Call for President's Ouster

Faculty at the College of Saint Rose voted last week to request that its president, Carolyn Stefanco, be removed from her position, The Times Union reported.

After calling for her ouster by a more than two-to-one margin, the faculty asked the Board of Trustees to dismiss the president. In response, however, the trustees announced their “unwavering support” for Stefanco.

The faculty said it had lost confidence in Stefanco’s leadership because she created an “atmosphere filled with fear of retaliation” at the private New York college.

Since filling the position in summer 2014, the president has overseen dramatic cuts to academic programs and faculty member positions. When the college was facing a $9 million deficit in December 2015, Stefanco suggested slashing 23 faculty positions and 27 academic programs.

At the same time, many faculty and administrators have left the university of their own accord, according to The Times Union. Three of the four deans at the college have said they are leaving.

“Morale is low among everyone at the college,” said Kathleen Crowley, a professor who voted for Stefanco’s ouster.

From the trustees’ perspective, Stefanco has navigated many difficult situations in her three years with Saint Rose. She oversaw the largest first-year class in the college’s history last fall as well as new master’s and bachelor’s programs.

"President Stefanco is leading this institution through a changing environment impacting higher education institutions throughout the nation," the trustees said in a letter to the faculty after last week’s 63-29 vote for Stefanco’s removal.

"Change is difficult, but this is the time for the administration and the faculty to get together behind the strategic plan we have charted to help our college succeed."

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Arcadia Adjuncts Form Union

Adjunct faculty members at Arcadia University voted to form a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, they announced Thursday. Elsewhere in Philadelphia, AFT represents adjuncts at Temple University. A spokesperson for Arcadia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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No-Confidence Vote at Fordham

Faculty members at Fordham University voted no confidence this week in Father Joseph M. McShane, president, over what they’ve called “draconian” proposed cuts to their health care benefits. Other concerns include the university’s alleged refusal to discuss pay raises until the faculty accepts changes to their health care, the state of shared governance and the university’s opposition to a proposed part-time faculty union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. Some 488 of 611 eligible faculty members participated, with 431 voting no confidence.

Fordham’s Board of Trustees promptly passed a resolution expressing full confidence in McShane. In a separate statement, the board took responsibility for some of the issues at play, saying it had directed the administration to reduce the rate of increase in health-insurance costs and the size of faculty salary increases. Faculty members have received a salary increase every year of McShane’s tenure, it said, “and at his insistence.”

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A professor deals with student reactions to sexual assault topics in class (essay)

Sexual Assault on Campus

A professor struggles to react after reading a paper that sounds hauntingly like what the person who sexually assaulted her would say.

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Study finds women in economics write papers that are more readable, but face longer publication delays

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Female economists write papers that are more readable than those produced by their male counterparts but take significantly longer to get published, study finds.

Professor Shares Suicide Note on Blog

Friends and colleagues of Will H. Moore, a professor of political science at Arizona State University, were shocked and saddened Wednesday to read an apparent suicide note posted to his personal blog. A university spokesperson confirmed late Wednesday that Moore had taken his life that morning.

“Assuming I did not botch the task, by the time this posts I will have been dead via suicide for several hours. Nope, that’s not a setup to a joke,” Moore wrote. “Why would someone who is healthy, employed, has every outside appearance of success and so on, take their own life? In my case the answer is simple enough: I was done, but my body wasn’t. But that answer isn’t satisfying, so, for those who are aggrieved, upset, saddened, etc., let me do my best to try to explain.”

Moore said that he’d enjoyed every “conceivable advantage a human might hope for” and “lived a rich, rewarding life of which I am, I confess, quite proud.” Yet he described never quite growing out of his “misfit” childhood identity and feeling grave discomfort with everyday social interactions. “Far too often I angered, insulted, offended and otherwise upset people, without expecting or intending to,” he wrote, elsewhere noting that he was on the autism spectrum. “I rarely felt that I was successful explaining my ideas, perceptions, understandings to others.”

Anticipating arguments that he had “so much to live for,” Moore wrote that he had many hobbies, from reading novels to hiking. They all provided limited pleasure, however, in that “they are consumption,” he said. And to “feel good about myself -- to be able to look myself in the mirror -- I needed to produce. I learned long ago that producing something I found useful/valuable did not mean anyone else would see it as useful/valuable. One must market it: show others its use/value. And that may seem straightforward, but it isn’t.”

Moore said he’d first considered suicide when he was a teenager, but quickly learned that it was “taboo” and therefore not to be discussed. His suicidal thoughts retreated when he had children, but they eventually returned. Saying that “perhaps some of you who are hurting will find something useful here,” Moore thanked “each and every one of you who interacted with me, in person and/or virtually, and especially those who I interacted with frequently and came to know.” He ultimately implored readers to “Go hug somebody!”

Arizona State in a statement sent “deepest and heartfelt condolences” to Moore’s family, describing him as a “respected, valued member of our faculty, who was engaged in multiple endeavors within and outside the university, and was beloved by his students.” Moore’s “relentless pursuit of knowledge in the field of politics and human rights contributed to volumes of insightful research to help us better understand the world around us,” it said. “The knowledge and passion Will imparted on his students, colleagues and many others is one of his legacies and will live on for decades to come.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential 24-7 service that can provide people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, or those around them, with support, information and local resources. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Faculty Vote No Confidence in Rider President

Members of Rider University's American Association of University Professors chapter have voted no confidence in President Gregory Dell'Omo.

Faculty members are unhappy with what they called “a series of rash actions” by Dell'Omo shortly after he started at the university in 2015, as well as a decade of financial management that predates his tenure. They also criticized his leadership style as autocratic and ignoring faculty input.

Dell'Omo has been under fire for a controversial decision to have the university try to sell Westminster Choir College and rocky contract negotiations with the faculty union. He has been a controversial figure at Rider nearly since the moment he was hired, as he attempted to cut majors and jobs shortly after taking over -- although the faculty union agreed to a deal to stave off layoffs in exchange for a wage freeze and other concessions.

The vote asks Dell'Omo to act to regain faculty members' confidence. It is the first time the AAUP at Rider, which represents 500 full- and part-time faculty members and other university employees, has voted no confidence. The vote passed with 75 percent in favor.

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Science, Engineering and Health Ph.D.s: Where Are They Now?

The National Science Board, the policy arm of the National Science Foundation, Wednesday released an interactive infographic designed to help educators, students, policy makers and business leaders understand career opportunities for those with doctorates in science, engineering and health fields. The graphic allows users to see the number of Ph.D.s working in 26 fields within academe, government and industry, and how career paths change over time. Demographic breakdowns include those by gender and ethnicity. Data on job duties and satisfaction also are available.

Geraldine Richmond, Presidential Chair of Science and professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon and chair of the board’s National Science and Engineering Policy Committee, said during a news conference that she and her colleagues believe the nation benefits from having trained scientists working in all sectors of the economy, and that the graphic will hopefully shed light on the “wide variety of career paths” scientists may pursue. Data are taken from the National Survey of Doctorate Recipients, 1993 to 2013. Key findings include that more than half of science, engineering and health doctorates are employed outside academe within 10-14 years of graduating -- and that’s been true for more than 20 years. Some 90 percent of respondents report job satisfaction 15 years or more after getting their Ph.D.s. The majority of recent doctoral graduates engage in research and development, regardless of employment sector, while their more senior counterparts engage in other activities, such as management.

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