Cathy Davidson Will Move From Duke to CUNY

Cathy Davidson, a major player in the digital humanities and discussions of new models of higher education, is leaving Duke University for the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Davidson is currently the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English at Duke University. She is also co-founder of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory), and the Graduate Center will become the main home of the organization. At CUNY, Davidson will be a professor of English at the Graduate Center and will direct the Futures Initiative, a CUNY-wide program to promote collaborative and participatory innovation in higher education.

In a statement, Davidson said that CUNY's Graduate Center "proves that a public, urban university is both accessible and exemplifies the highest possible intellectual standards.... My dedication to public higher education, while always strong, has grown in the last few years. How can the most affluent nation on the planet not invest in the future of public education? The Graduate Center and the entire CUNY system can be, and will be, the world leader in higher education innovation. I’m so proud to be part of the effort at such a fine public urban university system.”


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South Carolina Lawmakers Question Books on Gay Topics

A South Carolina legislative committee has voted to punish two public colleges for assigning freshmen to read books with gay themes by cutting the institutions' budgets by the total spent on the books in programs for freshmen, the Associated Press reported. The College of Charleston was criticized for making Fun Home, an acclaimed autobiographical work by Alison Bechdel, and the University of South Carolina Upstate assigned Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, which is a collection from the state's first gay radio show. Representative Garry Smith, a Republican, said he proposed the cuts to get colleges to take his concerns seriously. "I understand diversity and academic freedom," he said. "This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate."

Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a Democrat, said legislators were interfering in academic decisions, and would draw ridicule from outside the state. "We are now in a posture where individual moral compasses and beliefs are being pushed down on our institutions of higher education," she said. "Do you think for one minute some companies are going to look seriously at us, when they think about their workforce coming to a state like this, with members of a Legislature who believe their job is to pass judgment on colleges of higher learning to dictate what books people are going to read?"

(Click here for more on this controversy.)

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Seattle U. Adjuncts File for Union Election; U. of LaVerne Votes to Be Counted

Adjuncts at Seattle University filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board Thursday to hold an election to form a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union. SEIU also is organizing adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran University in Seattle, which has challenged the NLRB’s jurisdiction over its campus based on its religious affiliation.

A spokesman for Seattle University, a Roman Catholic institution, directed questions about the filing and whether the university would challenge NLRB jurisdiction based on its religious status to a statement posted on its website from Isiaah Crawford, its provost. It raises numerous concerns about the union drive, including that NLRB "oversight could infringe on our Jesuit tradition and Catholic identity." About 350 full- and part-time non-tenure-track faculty are eligible for union membership.

Also on Thursday, the NLRB said there was no need to review the composition of the proposed bargaining unit at the University of LaVerne, in Los Angeles, where SEIU also is organizing adjuncts on multiple campuses as part of its nationwide Adjunct Action campaign. LaVerne previously had asked that the union election be open to all adjuncts at its satellite campuses; the SEIU-proposed unit is open only to adjuncts working on the main campus.

In a statement posted to its website, LaVerne said:  “We are disappointed that our inclusive approach has been rejected. However, this decision should pave the way for the ballots, which have been cast and returned to the NLRB Regional Office, to be promptly opened and counted.” Voting began Feb. 5 and ended last week. Ballot counting was delayed, pending the national NLRB decision, as well as an unfair labor practice claim related to the union drive filed against the university.

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Brown releases analysis of how a lecture got canceled due to protests

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Brown U. releases report on the disrupted appearance by Ray Kelly, detailing numerous unsuccessful efforts to win over protesters.

Faculty Group Sues UT-Brownsville, Texas Southmost

The Texas Faculty Association is suing the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College in federal court on behalf of three tenured professors who say they were fired for being too old, after the two institutions ended a 20-year-old joint operating agreement. Juan Antonio Gonzalez, a professor of modern languages; Dorothy Boven, an assistant professor of English; and Karen Fuss-Sommer, an instructor of nursing, all were granted tenure at Texas Southmost prior to the merger of the college and university in 1992 but had their tenure revoked following their split in 2012.

The lawsuit alleges that was due to an administrative charge that prioritized the retention of non-tenure-track faculty members with master’s degrees over tenured faculty without master’s degrees during downsizing related to the split. But the professors, all over 40, say their positions weren’t even eliminated, and that they were replaced with younger professors without due process.

"Tenure is a property right, and it is not to be taken without good cause or due process, and these individuals were denied both,” said Mary Aldridge Dean, executive director the Texas Faculty Association, affiliated with the National Education Association, in a news release. Some 80 tenure-line and non-tenure-track faculty lost their jobs following the institutions' split.

A spokeswoman from Brownsville said the university does not comment on pending litigation. Texas Southmost did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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U.of New Hampshire Lecturers Vote Yes on Union

Full-time, non-tenure-track lecturers at the University of New Hampshire’s Durham and Manchester campuses have voted overwhelmingly -- 141 to 23 -- in favor of forming a union affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, they announced Thursday. Key issues for UNH Lecturers United-AAUP include clear terms of contract, job security, firm contract renewal deadlines, pay raises in step with lecturers at other institutions, and fair policies for evaluation.


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Take a scholarly approach to work-life balance issues (essay)


Need reliable information about promotions, leaves and other work-life issues? Elizabeth Simmons offers advice on how to research these matters at your institution.

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Academic Minute: Lemurs and Sleeping Caves

In today’s Academic Minute, Michelle Sauther of the University of Colorado Boulder reveals a discovery about the preferred sleeping arrangements of lemurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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Women in Colorado Philosophy Issue Statement

Six female faculty members in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have issued a statement expressing concerns about the impact of a recent report detailing instances of sexism and unprofessionalism in the department. The statement, published on the Feminist Philosophers blog, doesn't take issue with the conclusions of the report. But the statement notes that the report (which was released by the university although the authors of the report didn't intend for it to become public) could unfairly damage the reputations of some in the department. To avoid that problem, the statement says the following: "Despite differing perceptions regarding both the report’s details and the overall impression it gives, all of us are united on a few things. First, we are all distressed that the report may damage the reputations of male colleagues who are completely innocent of sexual misconduct. It could also harm the prospects of our male graduate students currently on the market. We faculty women strongly believe that none of our currently untenured male colleagues or current male graduate students has engaged in sexual misconduct (nor, indeed, have most of our tenured colleagues). We believe that many have heard about the problems, if at all, only through the rumor mill. The second thing that unites us all is our determination to rebuild the department and its reputation."


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Essay on negotiating academic job offers

Get a Job!

But you won't get much of anything if you don't negotiate, says Cheryl E. Ball.

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