New book explores various arguments for the value of the humanities

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Author of new book explains why no one case can be made for the importance of the humanities -- and why the arguments must be different in America and Britain.

Michigan Professors Object to Raises for Administrators

Faculty members at the University of Michigan have issued an open letter arguing that administrators' salaries have skyrocketed in recent years, while pay for professors has increased only modestly, MLive reported. The letter calls for a full investigation of the issue. A spokesman for the university said officials would investigate.


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Academic Minute: Galaxy Gas and Star Production

In today’s Academic Minute, D.J. Pisano, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at West Virginia University, explains his studies of the chemical elements present in space to unlock mysteries of the universe. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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UConn professor challenges a visiting preacher and finds himself attacked in conservative blogosphere

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When visiting preachers questioned students' values and called evolution a lie, an anthropologist decided to argue back.

Essay on the impact of the tenure process

Get a Job!

It's time to be honest about how psychologically and professionally damaging the tenure process is, even to those who succeed, writes Cheryl E. Ball.

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Essay defending the idea that collegiality matters in hiring

Departments favor candidates who seem like they will fit in, and there's nothing wrong with that, writes Jeffrey A. Johnson.

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Investigation of Brown professor's plagiarism case goes public

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A Brown professor says she's sorry for unintentional plagiarism in her book, but that the thoughts were hers. While some in her department have expressed dismay, others say it's a mistake all too easily made.

Report Criticizes Penn State on Scrapped Health Plan

A report released this week by a Pennsylvania State University task force of faculty, administrators and staff who reviewed the controversial “Take Care of Your Health” wellness and health insurance program echoed what many employees said about the plan all along: that it violated employee privacy; that its design was not supported by health care research; and that the university was not forthcoming about the plan as a whole. Among other elements of the plan, which was proposed last summer, faculty objected to monthly surcharges for not completing certain physical exams and wellness screenings; covering family members eligible for health care through their own employers; and for tobacco use. Most all of the plan has since been tabled, except for the tobacco use surcharge.

The task force report says that “To implement a costly, intrusive and unpopular mandate that the academic literature suggests would not attain the stated goals, and to justify the mandate by reference to potentially self-serving vendor studies, did not engender confidence among some that the necessary level of due diligence had been performed.” It also criticizes the university for announcing the plan quietly in the middle of the summer, saying “many of the faculty and staff at Penn State expect more forthright behavior from their university," and validates privacy concerns employees raised about a required online health questionnaire.

While critical, the report says the university has a chance going forward to emerge as a leader in employer health care. “By taking a deliberate yet measured approach, and collaborating with the health and research expertise throughout the University, Penn State can provide significant benefits to society in this area,” it says.


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NLRB Approves Adjunct Union Bid at Seattle U.

Adjunct professors at Seattle University who hope to organize in affiliation with the Service Employees International Union got the green light from their local National Labor Relations Board. The announcement didn’t come as a surprise to adjuncts there, who said the decision was similar to the board’s regional office ruling last year in favor of adjuncts who wish to form an SEIU-affiliated union at Pacific Lutheran University. Ballots from that subsequent union election have been impounded, however, as the national labor board weighs the university’s challenge to the ruling – namely that its religious affiliation puts it outside board jurisdiction. Michael Ng, an adjunct professor of languages and literature at both institutions, said organizers expect Seattle University to pose a similar challenge to the local board’s decision that a union runs “no significant risk of constitutional infringement” on the institution, which “lacks substantial religious character.” A university spokeswoman referred questions about the decision to previous statements made by Isiaah Crawford, provost, expressing concern about NLRB infringement on its religious identity. The university has until May 1 to appeal the decision. The union would include about 356 non-tenure-track faculty. A union vote date has not yet been announced.

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Professor Beaten Over a Bad Grade?

Police are exploring the possibility that a student angry about a grade could have ordered a "hit" on a Miami Dade College professor, The Miami Herald reported. Marc Magellan, a professor of music and humanities, was beaten in a parking lot on the college's Kendall campus last week by an unknown attacker. Mallegan says the assailant yelled "Professor Marc" before punching him in the face and smashing his head against the ground, leaving him with a broken nose and hand.

The professor says his assailant's words, along with the fact that none of his personal belongings were taken in the attack, means he was targeted, possibly by a student. "There is nobody I can think of who would have wanted to attack me so brutally unless there was some sort of grudge or chip on their shoulder," Magellan told the Herald. "In my business, yes, the only people who hold grudges are the ones who I've had to drop or fail. It comes with the territory I guess." A college spokesman said this kind of crime, especially in broad daylight, was unprecedented for the campus, and that on-campus security has been increased as a precaution.

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