Duke University's non-tenure-track faculty members have voted, 174 to 29, to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. The announcement of the union election results is a major victory for the SEIU, which is attempting to organize non-tenure-track faculty members nationally.
The vote is particularly significant because it has been many years since a faculty union drive of any type has been successful at a private university in the South. The photo at right shows some of the Duke faculty members celebrating.
Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth issued a statement that said: "While we are disappointed not to be able to continue working more directly with our colleagues, we are glad that together we made some advances this past year that will impact many of our adjunct faculty."
The University of Missouri Board of Curators on Thursday responded to the American Association of University Professors’ planned investigation of the Melissa Click case. Pamela Q. Henrickson, board chair, said in a 10-page letter to AAUP that the termination of Click, the former assistant professor of communication at the Columbia campus who asked for muscle to remove a student journalist and yelled at police during on-campus protests this fall, is fundamentally consistent with AAUP values. That’s despite AAUP’s contention that Click was terminated without an opportunity to appeal to a faculty body, a widely followed standard endorsed by the association.
Henrickson said that AAUP’s statements on such matters don’t establish an absolute right or requirement to such a hearing, and instead focus on matters of academic freedom and tenure. She denied that Click’s case concerns academic freedom or tenure, which she noted the professor did not have. Henrickson also wrote that while the board endorses faculty hearings in midterm dismissal cases, Click’s case was not typical in that existing university procedures failed to address the seriousness of her actions (no one filed a complaint against Click).
“[The board] addressed conduct by Dr. Click that was contrary to those basic expectations and at odds with principles of free expression that animate [AAUP policy],” the letter says. “Indeed, by calling for physical intimidation or violence against a student, Dr. Click engaged in conduct that, if tolerated, would pose a risk to the safety of students and faculty and fundamentally endanger the university’s academic environment.”
Henrickson said the board’s actions do not merit censure by AAUP, in which the investigation could result, but that the body is nonetheless reviewing existing Missouri polices to ensure that it will not have to act on its own in instances of future faculty misconduct. Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of AAUP’s department of academic freedom, tenure and governance, said the association’s investigation will continue as planned, with the investigating committee possibly responding to the board’s concerns in its report.
For the second time, a jury found that the University of Iowa didn’t discriminate against an applicant for a faculty position in the College of Law because he was too old, The Gazettereported. Donald Dobkin, an administrative law attorney who is now 62, first sued the university for age discrimination after he was denied a faculty position in 2008. The job went to a younger candidate with what Dobkin said were inferior qualifications, but a jury sided against him in 2012. He was denied a new trial and lost an appeal.
Dobkin launched a second suit that same year, based on a failed second attempt at a faculty job in 2010 (the job went to a 40-year-old, less experienced applicant, according to the most recent suit). Dobkin alleged discrimination based on age and employment, as well as retaliation for the first suit, but a jury sided against him this week. The university said in a statement that it was “pleased with the jury ruling and the recognition that the law school did not discriminate and did not retaliate.” Dobkin could not immediately be reached for comment, according to The Gazette.
Holt Parker, professor of classics at the University of Cincinnati, was arrested this week on child pornography charges, according toWKRC. Parker reportedly attempted to destroy a thumb drive as federal agents entered his home, after which he told them that he’d been trading videos and images every day for years. He’s being held on $250,000 bond.
Gregory Vehr, university spokesperson, said in a statement that the institution “takes these charges very seriously and is cooperating fully with authorities. Per university policy, Parker has been suspended from his position, barred from university property, and is to have no contact with students."
But for now, that won’t make a difference to the employees of Morehead State University, who will be furloughed during the college’s spring break.
When Morehead State announced the five-day furlough last week, President Wayne Andrews said the institution needed to prepare for a proposed cut in state funding.
But at least for now, it is the college’s responsibility to continue planning for the worst, said Beth Patrick, Morehead State’s chief financial officer and vice president for administration.
“While we are very hopeful and appreciative of the work the House has done to approve a budget that restored the proposed cuts to postsecondary education,” she said in an email, “we also recognize that much work remains before a budget is finalized.”
An endowed professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame who was accused of sexually abusing a boy in the 1980s killed himself Monday, the South Bend Tribune reported. The Reverend Virgilio Elizondo, 80, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after repeatedly denying claims by an unnamed man that he had abused him. In a lawsuit, the accuser says he was the victim of frequent abuse at the hands of another priest in a San Antonio orphanage and sought counsel in Father Elizondo, who allegedly abused him as well. Father Elizondo taught at Notre Dame from 2000-2015, according to information from the university. A university spokesperson reportedly responded to the Tribune’s request for comment with a link to a memoriam web page that says, in part, “Extolled as a founder of U.S. Latino religious thought, Father Elizondo was hailed in Time magazine as one of the leading spiritual innovators” in the country.
A former professor of architecture at Catholic University won $1 million in damages this week after a jury found that the institution attempted to scare her out of suing it for discrimination, The Washington Postreported. After a four-week trial, a jury in D.C. Superior Court rejected Rauzia Ruhana Ally’s claim that she was fired because she is a Muslim Indian woman, but determined that administrators engaged in an email campaign to get her to drop a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Ally was fired in 2012, a year after taking on a job as director of a university project, according to the post. The university said she was insubordinate and failed to keep project costs down, but Ally alleged discrimination. Ally’s attorney during the trial presented emails from Randall W. Ott, dean of Catholic’s School of Architecture, accusing the former professor and her husband of stealing a desk-size model home and discussing a plan to press charges. Ally said she never removed the model, and charges were never brought, but Ott in an email to another administrator referred to the proposed charges as a “threat.”
Elise Italiano, university spokesperson, told the Post that in “both policy and practice, the university is committed to fair and equal treatment of every employee. We have respect for every employee and a rich compliance and ethics program.” She denied that Ott’s emails were malicious but said the university was reviewing standards about how managers communicate.