Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 26, 2010

Adjuncts at St. Francis College, in New York, voted this week to unionize, affiliating with New York State United Teachers, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. The vote was 96-47, with union organizers saying that adjuncts needed better pay and benefits. The vote creates the latest collective bargaining unit among adjuncts, who unlike tenure-track faculty members can be unionized at private as well as at public institutions. College administrators opposed the union drive, arguing that collective bargaining was not needed and producing videos of adjuncts who said they didn't want a union.

February 26, 2010

Albion College, in Michigan, has announced plans to eliminate the equivalent of 15 full-time faculty positions (about 10 percent of the faculty), in anticipation of enrollment declines in the years ahead, The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported. The college says that some of the job cuts will come through early retirement, but others may not. Faculty leaders say that they are concerned about how positions -- especially of tenured or tenure-track faculty -- are going to be selected for elimination.

February 26, 2010

President Obama on Thursday announced the 2009 recipients of the National Medal of the Arts and the National Medal of the Humanities. In the former category, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music was honored for its impact on the world of music. Humanities medals are going to, among others, Robert A. Caro, the biographer of Lyndon Johnson and Robert Moses; Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history at Rutgers University and the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family; David Levering Lewis, a professor of history at New York University and the biographer of W.E.B. Du Bois; and William H. McNeill, a historian at the University of Chicago who played a key role in launching the study of world history as a field.

February 25, 2010

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to reform a system in which legislators can give out college scholarships to anyone they want -- a system that has led to a series of cases of such scholarships going to those with ties to campaign donors, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Senate didn't go as far as backing the elimination of the scholarships, which some reform groups have urged. But the Senate would ban the award of scholarships to anyone whose family could be linked to a campaign contribution without the last five years. Further, family members of recipients would be banned for five years from making a contribution to the legislator who awarded the scholarship. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives.

February 25, 2010

More than 2,400 lecturers at the University of Montreal went on strike Wednesday, six months after their contract expired, CBC News reported. They want more money and smaller classes. University officials said that a strike was premature and said students would be hurt by a prolonged strike. The lecturers have been holding half-day and full-day walkouts, but the work action started Wednesday is open-ended.

February 25, 2010

The California Community Colleges -- the largest higher education system in the United States -- are projecting a 1 percent dip in enrollment this year. The shift reverses five years of enrollment growth, which brought the total number enrolled to nearly 3 million last year. In a press briefing, Jack Scott attributed the drop to deep budget cuts, which have in turn forced colleges to eliminate course sections. Statewide, he said, about 5 percent of course sections have been eliminated. “Our enrollment is not dropping due to a lack of demand,” he said. He noted that the community colleges statewide are actually educating about 200,000 more students than the state is providing funds for -- further stretching the capacity of the colleges.

February 25, 2010
  • Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, has been appointed as dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University at College Station.
  • Sheryl Culotta, interim director of continuing studies and graduate liberal studies at Wesleyan Unversity, in Connecticut, has been named to the job on a full-time basis.
  • John Carlin, a former newscaster and public relations strategist, has been selected as director of public relations at Ferrum College, in Virginia.
  • James Gordon, associate professor, associate dean and chair in the division of biokinesiology and physical therapy at the University of Southern California, has been promoted to full professor.
  • John Marcus, senior vice president of The Education Resources Institute (TERI), has been chosen as vice president of enrollment services and marketing at Dean College, in Massachusetts.
  • The appointments above are drawn from The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of upcoming events in higher education. To submit job changes or calendar items, please click here.

    February 25, 2010

    Hundreds of students walked out of a teach-in about tolerance Wednesday at the University of California at San Diego, saying that it was not a sufficient response to racial tensions on the campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. The teach-in was organized by the university in the wake of a party that mocked black people who live in poor areas, and a student television show that defended the party and used an anti-black slur. Black students said these incidents were reflections of broader issues they face on a campus where they make up only 1.6 percent of the student body.

    February 25, 2010

    The University of Massachusetts at Amherst acknowledged that it allowed a student who confessed to raping a friend to stay on campus without significant punishment, according to an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, appearing in The Boston Globe. The university said that its handling of the incident was a mistake. The incident is described in a broader report suggesting that minimal punishments often follow reports of sexual assaults on campuses in New England.

    February 25, 2010

    Microsoft announced Wednesday it is extending its "identity federation" services to its college and university clients who use Live@edu, the company’s integrated e-mail, calendar, instant messaging, and online file storage suite. An “identity federation” is a group of institutions that allows students, researchers, and employees who need to access password-protected Web sites at multiple institutions to use a single log-in identification and password. With thousands of institutions worldwide already using Live@edu, the federation is already built, said Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer, in an interview yesterday. Evans compared the service to the driver’s license system, where a person who acquired a driver’s license in Maryland can use it to drive or verify I.D. in each of the other 49 states, rather than having to acquire and carry around 50 different licenses. Identity federations are currently a hot topic in campus IT; Educause last year recognized several companies that had applied the concept to higher education with its Catalyst Award.

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