Connecticut, Middlebury and Williams Colleges on Friday announced a new effort to diversify the faculties of liberal arts colleges. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is providing funds for the colleges to work with Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley to organize an annual event where students at 23 liberal arts colleges will learn about graduate school opportunities at research universities and careers for those who earn doctorates, create research internships at the two universities for under-represented students at the colleges, and create postdoctoral fellowships for new Ph.D.s at the universities to experience life at liberal arts colleges.
The American Economic Association saw a 2.7 percent rise in the number of job announcements for Ph.D.s during 2012, continuing a pattern of recovery from sharp drops as the economic downturn started in 2008. Economics is a discipline where those with doctorates have long had considerable opportunities in the business and finance world, not just in academe. This year's numbers show a 5.7 percent increase for jobs in academe, and a 3.6 percent drop for nonacademic positions. As has been the case in recent years, the top field of specialization in job postings (by far) was mathematical and quantitative methods. That was followed by (in order) microeconomics, international economics and macroeconomics.
Some arts and sciences faculty members at New York University are pushing for a vote of no confidence in President John Sexton, The New York Times reported. Frustrations concern local issues (an expansion plan) and Sexton's drive to have the university open campuses in locations all over the world, including in countries that lack academic freedom. Sexton's supporters cite the university's increasing ability to attract top students and faculty members. Complicating the discussions at NYU is a debate over whether various bodies have the authority to hold a vote of no confidence.
With the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association coming up early next month, some social media fun is to be expected. This year the hashtag getting the laughs is #mlatshirts -- with the words that might be expected on a T-shirt getting packed for the meeting. Among our favorites:
"Will refute you for food."
"This is less of a question and more like three related comments."
"Let me problematize that for you."
"Your shirt is interesting, but let's talk about MY shirt."
"Our Department Strives To Show Its Professionalism By Interviewing Candidates In A Comparatively Large Hotel Bedroom."
"Just looked through the #mlatshirts stream and saw no MOOC references. Oh, the humanities!"
"I'll save you the trouble of looking at my badge: I'm not worth talking to." (From an Inside Higher Ed blogger who most definitely is worth talking to.)
Unions that represent faculty members, teaching assistants, lecturers and others at Michigan's public colleges and universities stand to lose funds (exactly how much isn't clear) under the state's new "right to work" law for public employees. The law says that employees can't be forced to pay anything to unions that represent them. Until now, employees who did not want to join the unions that won collective bargaining elections could opt not to, but they had to make "fair share" payments to cover work done by the unions. (Such payments typically exclude political activity by unions.) Such workers could now pay nothing, if they want.
Republicans who pushed the legislation said that they were trying to "free" workers from unions. David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan (the largest union in higher education in the state), said that the move was designed to weaken unions. He noted that unions still must represent workers who don't pay anything, so the measures will leave unions with smaller budgets than they had before. He said that the AFT has not done an estimate of how much the union budgets could shrink, but said that in other states with similar laws, "there has been a hit."