Are many academic job ads discriminatory to people with disabilities? That’s what David Perry, a professor of history at Dominican University, alleges in a new op-ed in Al Jazeera called “Disabled People Need Not Apply.” Perry argues that academe, despite its focus on inclusion, is a regular offender when it comes to job ads that exclude large groups of people. “I found around 60 current advertisements, including faculty, staff and administrative positions, at diverse types of universities,” Perry wrote of the analysis on which his piece was based. “At many institutions, every job posting receives one of these clauses, despite many positions being perfectly suited to individuals with all types of bodies, senses and minds.”
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, for example, regularly inserts the following clause into job ads (including one for a professor of French), Perry wrote: “Sedentary Work -- Exerting 10 pounds: Occasionally, Kneeling: Occasionally, Climbing (Stairs, Ladders, etc.): Occasionally, Lifting 10-25 lbs.: Occasionally, Carrying 5-10 lbs.: Occasionally, Pushing/pulling 5-10 lbs.: Occasionally, Sitting for long periods of time: Occasionally, Standing for long periods of time: Occasionally, Speaking; Essential, Hearing: Essential, Vision: Ability to distinguish similar colors, depth perception, close vision: Essential, Walking -- Short Distances: Frequently.”
Even the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Tarrant County College District, an office that includes oversight over disability issues, must be able to meet “physical demands” such as the need to “sit; use hands to finger, handle or feel objects, tools or controls; reach with hands and arms; and talk or hear,” Perry wrote. “What’s more, the employee is ‘occasionally required to stand; walk; climb or balance; stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; and taste or smell,’ as well as ‘frequently lift and/or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.’ And ‘Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and the ability to adjust focus.’”
Sam Crane, director of public policy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and a disability rights lawyer, told Perry that some of the ads were likely illegal, and that an employer cannot simply list categories that exclude wide swaths of disabled Americans without a very strong reason.
Perry said he was hoping to start a conversation about hiring best practices. “Unintentional discrimination is still discrimination,” he wrote. “Boilerplate clauses keep disabled people from even applying for jobs. ‘Requirement creep,’ likely put in place by [human resources] professionals eager to avoid trouble, exacerbates discrimination and could, if someone had the time and money, lead to legal trouble.” Without deliberate change, he wrote, “unemployment will continue to be the biggest problem facing Americans with disabilities. It’s time for employers to take a hard look at their hiring practices.”
The University of Wisconsin System moved a step closer Friday to approving new policies related to tenure -- policies that continue to worry faculty members. With little discussion, the Education Committee of the system’s Board of Regents unanimously voted to recommend draft policies on tenure and processes for layoffs or termination, paving the way for the full board to vote on the policies next month. The new policies were drafted by a system task force after Wisconsin’s Legislature voted last year to strike strong protections for tenured faculty from state statute, but faculty members say the new system-based policies still fall short of meeting American Association of University Professors-recommended standards. John Behling, the board’s vice president and chair of the system’s Tenure Policy Task Force, said the policies were drafted to reaffirm the board’s commitment to strong tenure and academic freedom while also increasing “accountability” to taxpayers. “Without that demonstration of accountability, whether real or perceived, our budget prospects in future years will not improve,” Behling added.
Tenure has been a touchy subject in recent months in Wisconsin due to the changes. That’s part of the reason faculty members objected strongly to a survey of their views on tenure this fall by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, which has in the past endorsed conservative positions on state policy issues. Despite the controversy, the institute is back at it with a new survey concerning tenure -- this time of non-tenure-track faculty members in the university system. The survey includes such questions as, “In order to receive tenure, you have to take a lower salary. How much of a reduction in your annual salary (keeping your workload constant) would you be willing to take to receive tenure?” and "Would increasing the proportion of classes taught by nontenured instructors harm or improve the overall quality of instruction in your department?" Some faculty members have complained that some questions seem to encourage answers that suggest more faculty members should be off the tenure track.
But Mike Nichols, president of the institute, said this new survey was an effort to gather information on tenure from an entirely new group of respondents -- instructional staff. He shared a letter he sent to Behling last year, attempting to dispel some of what he called the “misinformation” surrounding the institute’s efforts. The letter says neither the institute nor the scholar conducting the survey had any preconceived notions regarding findings, and that the survey will “allow all Wisconsinites an opportunity to sift and winnow all objective information pertinent to a live policy debate.”
Faculty members have voted no confidence in the leaders of City Colleges of Chicago and the University of Akron.
At City Colleges of Chicago, faculty leaders say Chancellor Cheryl Hyman makes decisions about important issues such as tuition, registration regulations and various other matters without consulting with the faculty, The Chicago Tribune reported. Many political and business leaders in Chicago back the chancellor.
At Akron, the Faculty Senate voted no confidence in President Scott L. Scarborough, citing numerous decisions he has made that they argue have hurt the university's academic and financial base, Ohio.com reported. Scarborough spoke early in the meeting where the vote took place but left before the vote.
Ravi Shankar, the tenured professor of poetry at Central Connecticut State University who was infamously promoted while in jail in 2014, prompting criticism of his administration, has resigned. Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State College and University System, announced Wednesday that Shankar agreed to resign, effective last month. Shankar, whose repeated run-ins with the law attracted the attention of state lawmakers, agreed to terminate all appeals and claims against the system’s Board of Regents for Higher Education, in exchange for a settlement of $60,409. He’s also permanently prohibited from applying to or accepting any position within the state college and university system. Since 2011, Shankar’s been convicted of crimes including credit card fraud and driving under the influence. He was arrested again last year for shoplifting at Home Depot. Shortly after that arrest, in August, Shankar was suspended without pay, a university spokesman said. The settlement terms were informed in part by Shankar's annual salary of about $85,000.
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.