Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, May 9, 2016 - 3:00am

Faculty members at three additional University of Wisconsin campuses are planning no-confidence votes concerning Ray Cross, university system president, and the system’s Board of Regents, the Journal Sentinel reported. The proposed measures at Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Green Bay are similar to a resolution passed by the Faculty Senate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison last week, versions of which were quickly adopted by faculty governance bodies at River Falls and LaCrosse.

The resolutions concern Cross’s and the board’s approval of new systemwide layoff policies for tenured faculty members, which many professors said fall short of protections in place before the Wisconsin Legislature took tenure out of state statute last year, and those recommended by the American Association of University Professors.

Cross released a statement after the Madison vote last week in which he said that he wants to work closely with faculty members, but that he also has to "work in partnership" with state leaders. "This state and its people are counting on us, working together, to help improve and expand quality of life and economic prosperity," he said. The board released a statement affirming its support for Cross. A system spokesperson said he had no additional comment.

Monday, May 9, 2016 - 3:00am

Education Management Corporation, a large for-profit chain, last week announced layoffs of 200 employees in the online division of its Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The company has struggled with slumping revenue and enrollments in recent years, as well as federal and state lawsuits and investigations. Last year it announced the closure of 15 of 52 campus locations of the Art Institutes. The new layoffs represent 3 percent of the company's 20,000-employee workforce, EDMC said.

Monday, May 9, 2016 - 3:00am

The non-tenure-track faculty union at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ratified its first contract late last week, after two brief strikes since April over stalled negotiations. Union members’ protests centered on several key issues, including the standardization of multiyear contracts across the university for eligible instructors. The university had stated that it wanted individual academic units to maintain some discretion on contracts, and the parties eventually agreed that after five years, non-tenure-track faculty members will receive “rolling contracts,” or continuous employment, with at least one year’s advance notice of non-reappointment. Longer, multiyear contracts also still may be issued.

The contract also includes a 2.5 percent raise in pay, retroactively for last academic year, and a raise in the minimum full-time salary to $45,000 by 2018, according to information from the American Federation of Teachers- and American Association of University Professors-affiliated union. Notification of reappointment will be issued by May 1 under most circumstances. The agreement includes additional assurances of non-tenure-track faculty participation in governance.

Shawn Gilmore, union president and a lecturer in English, said the contract would “stabilize the working lives of non-tenure-track faculty” and ensure the “long-term support they deserve.” Barb Wilson, interim campus chancellor, and Ed Feser, interim provost, in their own statement said the university is stronger when non-tenure-track faculty members are “integral partners in governance, when their teaching is protected by academic freedom and when they have appropriate predictability and stability in their appointments.” The agreement addresses those priorities, they continued, “without supplanting the roles of the departments and colleges as important stewards of hiring and promotion for our academic programs. It also preserves the flexibility of units to offer multiyear contracts according to their own needs and financial capacity.”

Monday, May 9, 2016 - 3:00am

The six-year graduation rate for undergraduates at Chicago State University has fallen to 11 percent, The Chicago Tribune reported. In recent years, the graduation rate has been between 13 and 21 percent. Officials said part of the reason for the drop was that nearly 300 undergraduates were dismissed in 2011 because their grades were too low for them to remain eligible. But the Tribune noted that these students were not generally on track to graduate anyway.

Monday, May 9, 2016 - 3:00am

Dallas Baptist University announced that three students were killed in a car crash early Saturday. The university is planning a memorial service and offering counseling for students on campus.

Monday, May 9, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Douglas Archer, professor in the institute of food and agricultural sciences at the University of Florida, examines how all of our senses are responsible for appreciating the flavors of our next meal. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 4:30am

Nearly 150 deans of law schools have written to the Law School Admission Council to demand that it stop plans to kick out the University of Arizona for that institution's decision to accept the GRE as an admissions test, in addition to accepting the Law School Admission Test. Arizona announced the shift in February, following analysis that found the GRE predicts first-year student performance. That prompted the Law School Admission Council to threaten to kick out Arizona for violating a rule to admit "substantially all" applicants based in part on LSAT scores. The law deans' letter states that the rule should be changed, and that taking action against Arizona denies a law school the right to experiment.

"Experimentation benefits all of us," the letter says. "We all expect to learn from the University of Arizona’s experiment and it should not be punished by LSAC."

The law school council told The New York Times Thursday that it had only sent Arizona "a request for clarification on the law school’s new policy."

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 4:13am

The State University of New York at Albany has expelled two students and suspended one for their false report about a fight in a local bus, The Times Union reported. The women, who are black, reported that they were attacked by white people. But a subsequent video led authorities to charge that the three women were the ones who started the fight. The women have all been indicted on charges including assault, attempted assault and false reporting. A lawyer for one of the women criticized the disciplinary hearing that Albany held, saying that evidence presented was full of "Trumpisms."

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 3:00am

The presidents of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system this week announced that they were banning nonessential travel to North Carolina to protest a state law there requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that were consistent with their legal gender at birth. But on Thursday, the presidents lifted their ban. "In light of the intervention from the U.S. Justice Department, the presidents of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are confident that the deplorable discrimination embedded in North Carolina’s legislation is being addressed. Therefore, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have lifted their ban on travel to North Carolina," said a statement from the college system.

The statement is correct that the U.S. Justice Department has informed the state that its law violates several federal laws. The statement did not mention that some state leaders in North Carolina are vowing not to change the law, despite the intervention from the Justice Department.

The statement also did not reference the concerns that have been expressed in recent days that a travel ban would prevent two college teams from competing in upcoming events in North Carolina.

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 3:00am

The chancellor of the University of Kansas on Wednesday vetoed a proposed $2 fee intended to fund a new multicultural student government, leaving the future of the organization in doubt.

Student demonstrators, led by the activist group Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk, demanded the creation of the parallel student government during campus protests last year. In March, the Kansas Student Senate approved of the student fee increase to support the new organization. But on Wednesday, Bernadette Gray-Little, the university's chancellor, wrote to the Student Senate's executive committee, saying she could not recommend that the Kansas Board of Regents approve the new fee.

The University Senate Code only allows for three governing bodies on campus: the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate and the Student Senate. Altering the code to officially allow for a fourth representative body would require at least year of deliberation, Gray-Little wrote, meaning the fee would be created before the multicultural student government officially existed.

"I believe that the independent student government proposed in the document sent to the University Senate is not an optimal way to achieve the goals we have for diversity and inclusion at the university and, indeed, may lead to greater divisiveness," Gray-Little wrote. "I realize that this proposal grew out of concern about the accessibility and openness to student government to all of our students."

Trinity Carpenter, interim secretary for the Multicultural Student Government, told the Lawrence Journal-World that the group plans to keep pushing for funding.

"This hurts, because we are the marginalized students who know there is a need for this resource," Carpenter said. "It’s even harder to accept because they have admitted there is a need for this institution and are not supporting it."


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