Yale Grad Union Withdraws 'Micro-Unit' Petition

Yale University’s would-be graduate student union has withdrawn its petition to form a union affiliated with Unite Here from the National Labor Relations Board. Graduate students in eight Yale departments announced they'd voted to unionize as part of a novel “micro-unit” strategy last year, but Yale has challenged the validity of that approach, details of the election and the general notion that graduate students are employees entitled to collective bargaining. The union said in a statement that it withdrew its petition over concerns that the NLRB under President Trump is increasingly hostile to union interests.

Graduate students on other private campuses have expressed similar concerns, and in particularly ominous news for Yale organizers, the NLRB in December ruled against a micro-unit organizing approach in a health care-related case. “We continue to call on the Yale administration to address graduate teacher concerns and stand with the labor movement and against the Trump administration stripping us and thousands of other workers of our rights,” Unite Here Local 33 said in a statement.

Yale said in a separate statement that it has “steadfastly maintained that Local 33’s micro-unit strategy was inappropriate and that the departmental elections were undemocratic.” The institution remains “deeply committed to graduate student education, and to providing its teaching fellows with the mentorship and training necessary to complete their degrees and go on to rewarding careers,” it said.

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How institutions help faculty members embrace possibilities of innovation

Faculty members need one-on-one consultation, positive reinforcement and examples from early adopters before they'll commit en masse to transforming their classrooms.

Author discusses new book about teaching literacy in prison

A prison writing instructor and the son of a former inmate, Patrick Berry discusses his new book on the role of higher education behind bars.

Colleges start new academic programs

Questions About Sabbatical Denials at Utah Valley

Professors at Utah Valley University are asking the institution for more transparency about how it assesses sabbatical applications in the wake of enrollment growth. In an open letter to administrators, 60 professors say that five of eight sabbatical applications from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences were rejected in January on the grounds that only one sabbatical could be granted per department due to resource constraints and enrollment increases. One of those decisions was later reversed, but the professors say that based on such a model, each faculty member in a large department could expect to go on sabbatical every 45 years, while one in a smaller department could take a sabbatical every five years.

Scott Trotter, university spokesperson, told the Daily Herald that faculty comments and concerns “are being considered carefully and we will reach out to our faculty members to address them directly.” Utah Valley’s sabbatical policy says that tenured professors who have been teaching for six years may take leave every six years if their applications are approved, “subject to availability of funds and suitable instructional replacements.” But professors say sabbatical applications have historically been assessed by their research merit and that changing how the policy is applied now pits research against teaching, to the university’s detriment.

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Northwestern Professor Accused of Harassment Takes Leave

A professor of journalism at Northwestern University whom 10 alumnae and employees accused of misconduct is taking a leave of absence, the Chicago Tribune reported. Alec Klein, the professor, “has requested a leave of absence from all of his positions at Northwestern until the university completes its investigation, and the university has agreed that is the appropriate action,” Alan Cubbage, university spokesperson, said in a statement.

Last week, a group of former students and employees of the Justice Project at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism published an open letter accusing Klein of sexual harassment, abusive behavior and bullying. Klein has denied the claims, saying in a statement that many came from a “disgruntled former employee.” Northwestern has said that some allegations dating back several years were previously found by the university to be unsubstantiated. But new allegations included the letter are now being investigated.

Klein’s attorney, Andrew T. Miltenberg, said in a separate statement that Klein denies the allegations but “intends to respect the confidentiality and privacy” of Northwestern’s investigation. Records obtained by the Tribune show that Northwestern's human resources department recently reviewed complaints made about Klein's behavior and did not determine the allegations to be substantial enough to launch a formal investigation into Klein. Northwestern’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access said that it would pursue “informal action,” however, such as “a warning to cease current behaviors, no-contact directives, and/or an educational conversation with the respondent or others.”

Meribah Knight, a Nashville Public Radio reporter who graduated from Medill in 2009 and who is one of Klein’s public accusers, said she and her colleagues have received more than two dozen emails from others voicing similar complaints against Klein since last week. “I’m really glad that people felt that they could come forward, but it was sad to see so many of the same patterns emerging,” she told the Tribune.

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Universal design for learning arrives on campus with concerted grassroots effort

With the help of a few committed advocates, one institution offers a road map for others to embrace an approach to making learning accessible for all.

Rewrite of Higher Education Act revives debate over legal definitions of distance education

As lawmakers rewrite the Higher Education Act, experts on digital learning hope they resolve longstanding ambiguities and maintain key safeguards.

Open educational resources offer exciting possibilities, though impediments remain (opinion)

Open educational resources offer enormous possibilities for college students and professors, but much work remains in finding, curating and maintaining the curricular materials, Fernando Bleichmar writes.

Report on Making Apprenticeships Work

Amid increasing bipartisan interest in expanding apprenticeship opportunities in this country, a new report from the University Ventures Fund includes policy recommendations for how to best harness new federal investment in the space. Ryan Craig, the investment firm's managing director, wrote the white paper with Tom Bewick, president of the Transatlantic Apprenticeship Exchange Forum and co-founder of Franklin Apprenticeships.

The authors' recommendations include:

  • Shift the mind-set to digital apprenticeships by bringing emerging and fast-growing industries to the table;
  • Formalize and incentivize the role of apprenticeship service providers;
  • Clarify federal funding for apprenticeship programs;
  • Build apprenticeships at the industry level, rather than one employer at a time; and
  • Encourage the public sector to lead by example by implementing government apprenticeship programs.
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