A professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Louisiana State University killed his wife and then himself over the weekend at their home in Mississippi, the Sun-Herald reported. William Claycomb, 73, and his wife, Victoria Burton, 61, each died of a gunshot wound to the head, and their deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide, according to the Sun-Herald. Claycomb, a member of the faculty since 1976, worked at LSU Health New Orleans. Steve Nelson, dean, described him as an internationally recognized pioneer in heart disease research. No information has been released regarding a motive, but police told the Sun-Herald they’d heard Claycomb was suffering from a terminal illness.
Jason Lieb, a molecular biologist at the University of Chicago, has resigned after a university official recommended that he be fired for sexual misconduct, The New York Times reported. A letter of finding that the Times obtained said Lieb made unwelcome sexual advances on female graduate students at an off-campus retreat and engaged in sexual activities with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent.” Lieb did not respond to requests for comment. Some students say the university should never have hired him, and that the university was warned in an anonymous email about a prior allegation against him. The Times article noted that Lieb has received millions of dollars in federal research grants.
Non-tenure-track faculty members in two academic units at the University of Southern California voted to form a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, while adjuncts in a third major unit voted down the bid, they announced Tuesday. Adjuncts in the Roski School of Arts voted 31-6 to unionize, and those in the International Academy voted for a union, 32-3. Non-tenure-track faculty members in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences voted down the bid, 127-113. A university spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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.