Quick Takes: Bill Ayers Talks, U. of Texas Evaluates Gender Equity, Sign Stealer Out at St. Olaf, More Change at Lambuth

November 5, 2008
  • William Ayers, the one-time leader of the Weather Underground whose (minimal) ties to Barack Obama made him a constant topic of criticism from Republicans over the last two months, has given his first interview since the controversy started. Ayers, an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told The Washington Post that although he received death threats and postponed the release of a new book, he did not "feel very victimized" by what happened, and had no contact with the Obama campaign. "I didn't do anything. It's all guilt by association. They made me into a cartoon character, they threw me up on stage just to pummel me," Ayers said. "I felt from the beginning that the Obama campaign had to run the campaign and I had to run my life."
  • A panel at the University of Texas at Austin is recommending that the institution adopt specific plans for increasing the representation of women on the faculty -- and among the senior faculty ranks. The panel's report found gaps in the representation of women and the pay for female faculty members. The report found, for example, that women make up 19 percent of full professors and 25 percent of the tenured faculty at UT, percentages that lag those of other doctoral institutions. Further, the report found that just 36 percent of women hired as assistant professors in 1997 were promoted to associate professors by their seventh year, compared to 56 percent of men. Considering the possibility that women may pause the tenure clock, the report also compared the results after nine years, and found that the percentage of men who had received tenure was 63 percent, compared to 55 percent of women.
  • A visiting instructor at St. Olaf College who recently wrote an essay about stealing signs supporting Sen. John McCain has quit, and the college has denounced his actions, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
  • Fred Zuker, who recently quit as president of Lambuth University to become chancellor and to focus on fund raising, is now quitting as chancellor, adding to uncertainty about problems at the institution, The Jackson Sun reported. A series of high-level departures and the cancelation of planned raises have left many faculty members concerned about Lambuth, a private liberal arts institution in Tennessee.
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