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Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

Non-tenure-track professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Tuesday began a planned two-day strike over stalled negotiations regarding their first union contract. Shawn Gilmore, lecturer in English and president of the American Federation of Teachers- and American Association of University Professors-affiliated non-tenure-track-faculty union, said in an interview that the union would have preferred to continue negations over striking. “But the university has made very little in the way of overtures to bargain or settle outside issues,” he said. Of particular concern to the union is standardized, multiyear contracts for eligible faculty members. Participation in shared governance and assurances of academic freedom also are key.

Robin Kaler, a university spokesperson, said the strike seemed “fairly limited in scope.” While the union wasn’t keeping track of participants, Gilmore said a midday rally saw several hundred attendees, and members plan to continue picketing today.

The university said in a statement that although “we continue to believe a strike is not in the best interests of our specialized faculty members, our students or the campus, we respect the right of each specialized faculty member to decide whether or not to participate. Our goal has always been, and continues to be, to work with the [Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition] to reach a fair and equitable contract.”

While the university supports multiyear contracts, the statement said, individual academic units “are best positioned to award multiyear contracts, as they best know their unique curricular needs and financial capacity. Multiyear contracts should be awarded based on performance, evaluation and merit, not centrally mandated and automatically granted based on the amount of time someone has worked here.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

While diversity in American higher education has improved substantially in recent decades, wealthier students still earn the bulk of the bachelor's degrees awarded in this country, according to new data from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy.

A newly released study from the two groups found that the distribution of bachelor's degree attainment between family levels has remained relatively constant since 1970. The top two family income quartiles accounted for 72 percent of the total number of bachelor's degrees earned that year -- and 77 percent of bachelor's degrees earned in 2014. "The bottom two quartiles accounted for 28 percent in 1970 and 23 percent in 2014," the study found, "a decline of five percentage points over this period."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today “The Critical Role of General Education,” our latest print-on-demand compilation of articles. This compilation is free, and you may download a copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Wednesday, May 11, at 2 p.m. Eastern about the themes of the booklet.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

University police at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee Monday evening removed rainbow-colored nooses a student hung from a tree. The nooses were part of an art project for an introductory course focusing on yarn in art, according to a university statement. Police removed them, per a separate statement, “out of concern of hate symbolism and its potential impact to the campus.” The student, according to the university, supports the artwork's removal in light of backlash on campus and is “apologetic for the issues it caused.”

Many on campus, angered by the racial overtones of a noose on campus, said the project lacked artistic merit. Others suggested that the rainbow color of the nooses clearly invoked the issue of LGBTQ suicide, not racially motivated lynching.

According to a local reporter, who attended a campus town hall Tuesday, the student will not be disciplined. An FBI investigation found no hate bias and said the student was unaware of how the project would be perceived.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

Gallup, with significant funding from USA Funds, will survey Americans on their higher education experiences and perspectives, with the goal of gleaning information that can increase college success, the two organizations announced Tuesday. The effort, unveiled at the ASU GSV Summit in San Diego, will survey 500 current and former students daily about such topics as whether they would recommend their educational path to others and the extent to which they use the skills they gained during their postsecondary experiences in their lives today. (Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 4:20am

Hampshire College called off classes Tuesday afternoon to discuss issues raised in student protests. Students have demanded that the college sell off any investments in fossil fuels or private prisons. (The college says it has only the most marginal of investments in the former and none in the latter.) Students also demanded that the college improve the way it handles issues related to sexual assaults and racism on campus, and the college has pledged to review its policies and programs to make improvements.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

The University of Mississippi is investigating a fraternity chapter for making sexist comments to sorority members during the fraternity's annual Derby Days charity event on Friday. A video of the event depicts Sigma Chi members asking a contestant in its Derby Days Queen competition if her nickname is "BJ" and what her "fondest memory of the Sigma Chi basement" is.

In a Facebook post, another sorority member, Abby Bruce, said women were also asked which Sigma Chi "they would go down on" and "what type of sausage would [they] prefer: linked or Sigma Chi?"

“I think the question all Panhellenic women at Ole Miss (and women everywhere, Greek or not) should be asking here is ‘why?’” Bruce wrote. “Why do we pay money to participate in these events to be humiliated? Why have we allowed ourselves to be objectified? Women’s fraternities were started as an empowerment movement. What happened?”

In a statement Saturday, the university said it had suspended all other Derby Days activities while the investigation moved forward.

“The university takes the report alleging a hostile environment very seriously,” Rebecca Bressler, director of Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance at the university, stated. “It is important that members of our community feel safe and supported -- actions that undermine that goal will not be tolerated.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

An assistant professor of outdoor studies at the University of Alaska Southeast was mauled by a bear during a mountaineering class on Monday, the Associated Press reported. The professor, Forest Wagner, was with a group of students on Mount Emmerich when he was attacked by a sow with two cubs. A student hiked down the mountain to notify authorities, since there was no cell phone service at the site of the attack. Students were safely removed from the mountain but the professor remained in the hospital in serious condition on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Lu Zheng, assistant professor in the department of advertising at the University of Florida, examines the psychology behind narrative advertising. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

Duke University released its second statement Monday denouncing HB2, a controversial North Carolina law that restricts transgender citizens’ bathroom access and prevents local governments from passing antidiscrimination bills that would offer protections to gay and lesbian people.

Duke was among the first of a handful of private North Carolina universities, which are exempt from the new rules, to denounce HB2 as discriminatory.

Monday’s letter, from President Richard Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth, reiterated that position and cited direct academic impact from cities that have imposed travel bans to North Carolina and prospective students, faculty and staff hesitating to visit the campus. “These developments have the potential to limit the value that Duke and other colleges and universities contribute to the state, namely producing trained graduates and expanding the frontiers of knowledge,” the statement says. “In spirit and in letter, this new law runs counter to the ideals of Duke University -- and, we believe, to those of our great state. We urge a full repeal of HB2.”

In addition to many business that have expressed concern or outright halted projects in the state, several academic associations have also moved meetings out of North Carolina. At least two conferences scheduled to be hosted at Duke are considering moving, according to a Duke spokesman, though he declined to say which ones because they had yet to make a decision. At least another three or four people were prevented from visiting the campus due to bans in New York and California on using public funds for nonessential travel to North Carolina.

“I’d say we’re certainly noticing it -- it’s not a flood, but it’s certainly noticeable,” he said. “As we have had a chance to review [the law] and to understand and see the implication and also see the impact that it’s having on our community, we wanted to both restate our commitment to diversity, inclusion and tolerance … but also provide support to members of the Duke community and others around the state who have been most directly impacted.”


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