Valparaiso Law Offering Buyouts to Faculty

Valparaiso University Law School is offering buyouts to tenured faculty members and those with multiyear contracts due to a sharp decline in student applications and enrollment since 2010. “To put the law school and our students in the best position to succeed, we are taking steps to meet the challenges facing legal education,” Nicole Niemi, university spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The purpose is to align the size of the faculty with the expected future law school enrollment.”

The university attributes its numbers to broader issues facing law schools, including mounting student debt, the shifting job market for those with law degrees, increased competition among law schools for highly qualified applicants and declining bar passage rates. Valparaiso has 21 tenured law professors and six contract law professors, and an incoming fall law class of 133 students, the Post-Tribune reported. Previously incoming classes numbered about 150 or 160 students, according to the Post-Tribune. Buyouts will be finalized by the end of the month.

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U of Houston Releases Draft Campus Carry Policy

Concealed-handgun license holders may carry guns into classrooms and faculty and administrative offices at the University of Houston, according to a draft policy released Tuesday by an on-campus working group. The policy prohibits guns in most residence halls, sporting venues, disciplinary hearings, and health and mental health facilities. The University of Texas at Austin’s campus carry policy, released last month, also allows guns into classrooms, despite many faculty members’ concerns about in-class safety. Houston’s policy is striking, given that its Faculty Senate last month circulated recommendations about how to teach under campus carry that many said had serious implications for academic freedom and free speech. But the policy isn’t surprising, given that Texas’s new law allowing for concealed weapons in campus buildings is clear that guns can’t be banned outright from most areas.

The law takes effect this summer for public universities and next summer for public colleges. Private institutions may opt out of the law, and virtually all have. Students for Concealed Carry, a national advocacy group, said in a statement that it largely approved of Houston's draft policy but took issue with the establishment of exclusion zones in areas used for day cares and school activities, "including areas frequently used by minor children." The task force "seems to have operated under the assumption that licensed concealed carry cannot be allowed anywhere children are likely to be present," the group said. "This was clearly never the intent of the Texas Legislature, which saw fit to allow licensed concealed carry in movie theaters, shopping malls, churches, grocery stores, restaurants, all state museums, all public libraries and even the Texas Capitol."

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March Madness for Mammals

Faculty members in the sciences at Arizona State, Columbia and Dominican Universities and the University of Southern California have unveiled a special Mammal March Madness to occupy those who enjoy a good bracket but are looking for more intellectual stimulation than might be found watching a basketball game. You can find the bracket here.

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Scholars in India demand that Harvard U Press drop its well-respected editor

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Thousands of academics and others in India attack esteemed book series by Harvard U Press and its well-respected editor, a Columbia professor, because the project is in the U.S. and the editor has differed from Hindu nationalist teachings.

Report on Controversial Wisconsin Tenure Survey

When the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute began surveying professors within the University of Wisconsin System last year about their views on tenure, many said they worried the institute might later use the findings to promote further changes to tenure policies in the state. That’s because tenure protections in Wisconsin were already weakened by a new state law, and because the institute had previously supported some conservative positions on state work and education issues.

It seems some of those fears have come true. In a new report called “The Trouble With Tenure,” the institute cites data from two separate faculty surveys and makes a number of policy recommendations, including giving campus chancellors the ability to lay off faculty for reasons such as significant program reduction or modification, and not just discontinuance.

Other recommendations include directing campuses and departments to develop precise and tailored definitions of professional and public service that include measurable contributions to the community and economy; mandating annual reports from each campus on numbers of tenured and tenure-track faculty, staff, and annual and posttenure reviews; directing individual campuses to departments to adopt stronger posttenure review processes with clear and denied expectations; and directing departments to publicly post tenure criteria.

The institute has maintained that it’s simply tracking a significant, live policy issue and says it’s been transparent about its process and data -- including findings that demonstrate the value of tenure to professors.

David Vanness, an associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and president of the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said via email that the report appeared to “break little ground,” with few exceptions. He said he thought it was clearly timed to influence the University System’s Board of Regents before their meeting next week, in that the institute seems concerned that the board “may not use its full authority granted by [the new tenure law] to fire tenured faculty essentially at will.” The document still “fails to recognize the economic value of tenure, and the need to protect academic freedom against meddling by powerful political and business interests,” he added, as well as the role tenure has played in the rise of the American university over time.

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Why grad students should seek out opportunities for collaboration (essay)


To prepare for a rapidly evolving job market, Ph.D. students must gain experience working as part of a team, argues James M. Van Wyck.

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President wins an award for cutting tenured faculty jobs

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Carolyn Stefanco, president of the College of Saint Rose, cut 23 faculty positions and 12 academic programs. She won a prize for her efforts.

AAUP Asks Mizzou to Rescind Termination Notice to Melissa Click

The American Association of University Professors on Friday urged the University of Missouri to immediately rescind its notice of termination to Melissa Click, the assistant professor of communication who asked for “muscle” to remove a student journalist during protests on the flagship Columbia camps this fall. In its letter to Hank Foley, interim chancellor at Columbia, AAUP cited Click’s lack of due process and the irregular means by which the university system’s Board of Curators voted to fire her last week

“Beyond its evident lack of conformity with the regulations of the University of Missouri, an action to dismiss a faculty member with indefinite tenure or a probationary faculty member within the term of appointment absent demonstration of cause in an adjudicative hearing before an elected faculty body is an action fundamentally at odds with basic standards of academic due process,” Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of the AAUP’s department of tenure, academic freedom and governance, wrote on Click's behalf.

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Colleges award tenure

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The following individuals have recently been awarded tenure by their colleges and universities:

Bowdoin College

  • Margaret Boyle, romance languages and literatures
  • Judith Casselberry, Africana studies
  • Crystal Hall, digital and computational studies
  • David Hecht, history
  • Abigail Killeen, theater and dance
  • Jeffrey Selinger, government and legal studies
  • Yao Tang, economics

Cabrini College

Rosemary Feal, executive director of the MLA, announces her departure, effective summer 2017.

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Rosemary Feal, executive director of the MLA, says she's stepping down next summer, at the end of her current term. She's leaving behind an organization that's much more representative of its members.


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