Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 21, 2016

After three days, a faculty strike at 14 campuses in Pennsylvania is over. The State System of Higher Education and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties have reached tentative agreement on a new contract, the system announced.

Members of the faculty union had been working on an expired contract since June 2015.

The new contract will last until June 2018. More details about the contract have not yet been released. The system announcement said that the deal includes raises for faculty members and "important health care cost savings." Prior to the strike, union officials said the pay increases were too small, especially those for adjuncts, and that the health insurance changes would be too harmful to faculty members.

The faculty made some concessions in their health coverage, said union president Kenneth Mash, but "we were willing to do it for the quality of our students' education."

The two sides came to an agreement at around 4 p.m. Eastern Friday, although negotiators from both sides did not directly communicate with each other, said Kenn Marshall, media relations manager for the university system. Instead, they bargained through intermediaries, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. "I don't think this deal would have happened if it weren't for Governor Wolf," Mash said.

Further details will only be released after final approval of the deal.

The union issued a statement that said in part, "To preserve quality education, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties accepted concessions to salary and benefits in exchange for eliminating most of the 249 changes the state system proposed in June. Also for the sake of students, APSCUF agreed to a salary package that was significantly lower than that of the other unions. APSCUF will release details about concessions and rescinded items in a future statement."

"We are tremendously happy for our students," Marshall said. "Come Monday, bright and early, students will be able to return to their classes."

The photo above shows pickets this week at West Chester University.

October 21, 2016

Faculty members at Concord University, in West Virginia, voted no confidence in Vice President Peter Viscusi Thursday, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Professors are angry about the way general-education requirements were substantially reduced. They say that the administration tried to make the changes without any faculty review, and that when the faculty were permitted to review proposed changes, professors' views were ignored. The university's board chair said the board backs the administration.

October 21, 2016

Three Lindenwood University men's basketball players have been charged in a rape and suspended from the team, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Authorities say that one of the basketball players was having consensual sex with a woman when, without her consent, he invited two others to start having sex with her.

October 21, 2016

Many black students and others at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge are angry about a racist sign a black student found on her door.

After the tweet about the incident was circulated widely, F. King Alexander, LSU's president, tweeted a response.

October 21, 2016

The founding president of a new network of nine research universities in Europe says the member institutions are united by “the conviction that there is no trade-off between research excellence by global standards, broad access for students and an inclusive academic environment and societal impact in research, teaching and outreach.”

Jaap Winter, founding president of the Aurora Network, and the president of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, described plans to hold workshops and share practices across like-minded member institutions. “We found kindred spirits in our ambition, and we think we can learn a lot,” Winter said of the new network, which is being launched today.

All nine of the founding members of the network are part of different funding systems. In addition to Vrije, the eight other participating universities are: Université Grenoble-Alpes, in France, and the Universities of Aberdeen (in Scotland), Antwerp (in Belgium), Bergen (in Norway), Duisburg-Essen (in Germany), East Anglia (in England), Gothenburg (in Sweden) and Iceland.

October 21, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Victoria Pagan, professor in and chair of the department of classics at the University of Florida, delves into whether ancient examples can relate to present-day theories. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 20, 2016

Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne is suspending or eliminating a number of academic programs as part of an academic prioritization process, a state agency’s recommendation that the institution become a Purdue-only campus and an attempt to close a several-million-dollar budget gap, caused in part by declining enrollment, The News-Sentinel reported. Degree programs in French, geology, German, philosophy and women’s studies are suspended, effectively immediately. Eight additional majors within existing departments, six teaching programs and four graduate programs have been shut down. The university is planning a teach-out program for currently enrolled students. Tenured faculty members in affected programs will be reassigned to different departments. The future of the campus’s nursing, dental education and medical imaging programs is still under discussion. Degree programs in environmental geology and environmental policy were cut previously, in July.

“To use a real estate analogy, Purdue is in a position where it will be acquiring properties,” Andy Downs, professor of political science and Faculty Senate president at Indiana-Purdue, told The News-Sentinel. “They want to make sure they get good properties. [Indiana University] knows what it's getting.”

An online petition with more than 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon seeks to save the women’s studies program, saying that it is “growing in size, with more majors than ever. It also generates more than twice in revenue than what it costs to operate the program. This is clearly not about cutting costs.” In a letter announcing the changes to faculty members, Carl Drummond, vice chancellor for academic affairs and enrollment management at Indiana-Purdue, said that after a meeting last week with state university system leaders, he “had failed to recognize or appreciate previously … that in the minds of the trustees these two processes [of campus realignment and academic prioritization] are inexorably linked.”

October 20, 2016

Ernesto Perez, the owner of the defunct Dade Medical College in Miami, was charged with two misdemeanor counts related to the abrupt closure of eight of the college's campuses, according to The Miami Herald.

About 2,000 students and 400 employees were affected by the closure. Under state law, college owners must notify Florida's Commission for Independent Education at least 30 days before closing. Investigators found that Perez notified the state, students and later the commission within a five-hour time frame.

The college closed in October 2015 after receiving increased scrutiny from federal officials.

October 20, 2016

Alcorn State University improperly certified 28 athletes in 11 sports as eligible for competition when they should not have been, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Wednesday in penalizing the university. The NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions handled the case through the association's summary disposition process, which is used when the NCAA and the institution generally agree on the findings of wrongdoing.

In this case, the NCAA said, Alcorn State officials did not fully understand the rules and certified credit hours that were not related to the athletes' degrees. The infractions panel fined the university $5,000 (but let Alcorn State put the funds toward rules compliance education) and required the vacation of records for games in which the ineligible athletes competed.

October 20, 2016

Many colleges and universities are paying to promote their posts on social media, according to a new report by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Huron, and mStoner Inc. Among the findings, based on a survey of schools, colleges and universities:

  • 83 percent are paying to boost or promote posts or advertising on Facebook.
  • 16 percent are advertising or promoting tweets on Twitter.
  • 9 percent report advertising on LinkedIn.


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