An arbitrator has ruled that the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine System did not violate their contract with a faculty union when Southern Maine laid off 26 instructors in 2014, the university system said in a news release. According to system officials, the arbitrator concluded that Southern Maine acted reasonably and with an "excess of caution" when it imposed the layoffs amid significant financial strain. Maine officials acknowledged that the arbitrator ruled that the university acted prematurely in the dismissal of one faculty member.
“We are grateful the arbitrator affirmed the hard but necessary work former President Flanagan and his team did to reduce expenses at the University of Southern Maine,” said James H. Page, chancellor of the University of Maine System. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with our faculty to improve university scholarship, research and service to Maine.”
Representatives of Southern Maine's faculty union could not be reached for comment about the arbitrator's ruling. But the union's president, Susan Feiner, a professor of economics at the university, told the Portland Press Herald, “While this is not the decision [the union] hoped for, we are glad the decision has been published. The faculty will continue to put students’ interests first. Students, their families and the state of Maine suffer when departments are closed and full-time faculty stripped out of departments. If UMaine System managers hope to recruit and retain students, they must invest in faculty who deliver world-class education. This decision is a serious blow to the academic reputation and future vitality of all UM universities.”
Melissa Click, a faculty member in communications at the University of Missouri at Columbia, has reached a deal to avoid third-degree assault charges she faced in connection with blocking a student journalist from access to a protest in a public space on campus, The Kansas City Star reported. Click will avoid prosecution in return for a year of probation and 20 hours of community service. Prosecutors said the deal was similar to those offered to similar offenders.
Cornell University's Board of Trustees voted to establish a College of Business, the university announced Saturday.
The new College of Business will include Cornell’s three existing accredited business programs: the School of Hotel Administration, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. Cornell administrators hope the decision will spur more collaboration between the schools while also strengthening the university’s reputation.
The decision came amid protests from Cornell faculty and alumni. After the change was first announced, a group of alumni created a petition in opposition to the idea, some saying that it would affect their donations to Cornell. And the Faculty Senate, worried about shared governance issues with the program being created before academic issues had been determined, asked the Board of Trustees to table the proposal. Instead, the board voted unanimously in favor of the change.
Many of the details of the new college -- like governance and academic processes -- will be finalized over the next few months by leaders and faculty members from the three existing schools.
A group of research universities will work with three Hispanic-serving universities on a project aimed at increasing the number of Latino professors in humanities fields, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and led by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Minority Serving Institutions.
The collaboration, announced by the Penn center Thursday, aims to prepare 90 students from Florida International University, the University of Texas at El Paso and California State University Northridge to enter doctoral programs at one of five predominantly white universities within five years. The universities are: New York and Northwestern Universities, the Universities of California at Berkeley and at Davis, and Penn.
Mellon will provide $5.1 million for the program, Pathways to the Professoriate.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators announced late Wednesday that it was suspending Melissa Click, who teaches communications at the university's flagship campus in Columbia. Click was recently charged with misdemeanor assault in relation to her videotaped blocking of a student journalist during last fall's campus protests. She has apologized for the action, but many Republican legislators have called for her dismissal. Faculty members, while not defending her actions during the protests, have said she should not be fired.
The statement from the university board said: "The Board of Curators directs the general counsel, or outside counsel selected by general counsel, to immediately conduct an investigation and collaborate with the city attorney and promptly report back to the board so it may determine whether additional discipline is appropriate."
Part-time and full-time non-tenure-track faculty members teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University in Chicago voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, 142 to 82, they announced Wednesday. (Some 326 instructors were eligible to vote, for a turnout of about 69 percent.) In a statement, the university thanked instructors for their participation in the process and said it looked forward to “continuing the conversation and the negotiations with SEIU about these faculty in the coming year.”
One of the most famous professors at the University of Texas at Austin said this week that he plans to ban guns from his classroom, despite a new state law that will allow concealed weapons across campus, the Austin American-Statesmanreported. The new law has already attracted lots of faculty opposition, but the pledge from Steven Weinberg, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics and the Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Chair in Science and Regental Professor at Austin, gives the cause new weight. That's in part because critics of the law have said it could make it harder for Texas institutions to recruit and retain top professors. “I will put it into my syllabus that the class is not open to students carrying guns,” Weinberg said at a Faculty Council meeting, drawing sustained applause. “I may wind up in court. I’m willing to accept that possibility.”
At the meeting, the council voted to approve five resolutions about the new campus carry law, including one calling for classrooms to be gun-free. Under the law -- set to take effect at public universities this summer and community colleges in 2017 -- people may now take concealed weapons into campus buildings (an earlier law permitted guns on campus but not explicitly inside classrooms or other indoor spaces). Campus presidents are permitted to establish guidelines related to specific safety concerns, but they can’t prohibit weapons outright. Gregory L. Fenves, Austin’s president, is expected to announce his guidelines next month.