The University of Montana on Tuesday announced plans to cut 201 full-time positions -- 52 of them faculty slots -- to deal with enrollment declines, NBC News Montana reported. Some positions may be currently vacant. Many professors say the cuts appear likely to disproportionately impact liberal arts programs, although other programs face cuts, too. Among the liberal arts departments slated for cuts: anthropology, English, geography, liberal studies, art and political science, as well as graduate programs in foreign languages.
Oxford Dictionaries, part of Oxford University Press, on Monday announced its annual Word of the Year. For 2015, it's not a word, but rather an emoji -- in this case the emoji called “Face With Tears of Joy” (at right). Why was it selected? “Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word ‘emoji,’ increase hugely,” said a statement from Oxford. Among the words or phrases that were also considered: “refugee,” “dark web” and “sharing economy.”
Wartburg College in Iowa has confirmed that it’s laying off three of its tenure-track faculty members. But President Darrel D. Colson objected to the idea that Wartburg is becoming less of a liberal arts institution based on personnel and curricular changes Inside Higher Ed reported on last month. “Notwithstanding our loss of some wonderful faculty, a loss I too feel, we have not abandoned our mission or eschewed the liberal arts,” he wrote. “We are duty bound to serve the students we enroll as best we can within the constraints of our resources, and we will continue to meet their needs -- both by responding to the ever-changing vocational choices they make and by ensuring the intellectual rigor inherent in liberal education.”
Meanwhile, two members of the college’s Faculty Council, a faculty representative body, have resigned in protest of how the college handled recent personnel cuts, according to resignation notices to colleagues obtained by Inside Higher Ed. “This resignation is motivated by behaviors and decisions that have affected our work and the institution as a whole,” wrote one of the former council members, Maria Paula Survilla, a professor of art. “As I watch my colleagues struggle to address the loss of faculty and the decimation of their offerings, I feel that I cannot, in good conscience, continue as a member of the council.” Survilla acknowledged the letter in an email but declined an interview.
The college also held a listening session earlier this month to discuss what’s happening there. According to notes from the meeting circulated via email by Pastor Ramona S. Bouzard, dean of the chapel, and obtained by Inside Higher Ed, the tone of the meeting was “sad, frustrated, angry, betrayed, sorrow[ful] and hurt.” Faculty in attendance also agreed there’s been a “lack of leadership” and that they’re concerned “about not having enough resources to accomplish [Wartburg’s] mission,” according to the notes.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is calling for public research universities to formally consider technology transfer issues in tenure and promotion decisions where applicable. In a report out today, APLU defines technology transfer loosely as “entrepreneurship, innovation and technology-based economic development activities,” and says that faculty members who participate in it should be credited in personnel decisions.
“A faculty member’s accomplishments in technology transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship are worthy of consideration in the review process for tenure and advancement,” the report says. “As with other forms of faculty work, it is essential that the evaluation of technology transfer activities weigh the likely impact of the work, its quality and its foreseeable societal benefit. When it is successful, technology transfer can invigorate the university and establish relationships with other private and public sectors that affirm the value of a research university.”
APLU also makes various recommendations for recognizing and assessing technology transfer in faculty work, based on a survey of U.S. and Canadian public universities on current approaches (which aren't uniform or widespread). Recommendations include making university policy statements that safeguard against conflicts of interest or commitment, and including technology transfer explicitly in personnel policies and criteria.
Henry Reichman, an professor emeritus of history at California State University at East Bay and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said that AAUP recognizes three criteria for tenure and promotion: teaching, scholarship or research, and service. “Insofar as technology transfer activities fit any of those criteria they may certainly be considered under those rubrics,” he said. And the “key is that the relevant faculty in each department and institution define which activities are included in each of these criteria.”
Rider University and its faculty union have agreed on a deal that will freeze professors' wages for two years so that the university can abandon planned layoffs and program cuts, NJ.com reported. The cuts would have included 14 full-time faculty positions, an unknown number of part-time adjunct slots and more than a dozen majors. Rider said that the two years of faculty salary freezes will free up $2 million.
Today on the Academic Minute: Russell Ciochon, professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa, explains that this isn't the first time humans have faced the crisis of rising sea levels. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.