Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

Paine College, a historically black institution in Georgia, announced Friday that it could not make its most recent payroll. A statement on the college's website said Paine was hoping to make up for the funds soon, perhaps within a week. The Augusta Chronicle reported that Paine told creditors it would make payroll by "no later than Jan. 8." But the Paine website statement said that it was "not true" that employees won't be paid for the rest of the year. The statement said that "no final decisions have been made" about any future pay.

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

All ACT scores from the September administration of the test have now been released, ACT announced Friday. A major delay in score releases has had many students worried that they would not be able to have ACT scores reported to colleges in time for Nov. 1 deadlines for some early admissions programs. ACT's announcement said that it would be sending requested score reports to colleges over the weekend to meet the deadlines.

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 4:27am

An associate master of one of Yale's residential colleges has set off a campus debate with an email saying offensive Halloween costumes may not be as terrible as some say.

On Friday, Erika Christakis sent a mass email in response to what she said were student concerns over being told not to risk offending people with costumes. She wrote, in part: “Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense -- and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin-revealing costumes -- I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people's capacity -- in your capacity -- to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?”

Her full email may be found here.

While some on social media are praising her, others are criticizing her for not understanding the hurt caused by costumes that are based on race and ethnicity. On Twitter, Christakis clarified that her point was not to suggest that some costumes aren't offensive, noting that “many of the same costumes offend me too.”

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 4:22am

Part-time instructors at St. Louis Community College voted 188-15 this weekend to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The SEIU is attempting to organize multiple colleges in the St. Louis area.

The administration, unlike those at many other colleges where adjuncts are being organized into unions, endorsed collective bargaining. Jeff Pittman, chancellor, said it was in the “best interests of our students” for adjuncts to have a union. “I think it’s a positive anytime you can better work with a group and share ideas and insights,” he said.

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

A for-profit college owner hired a private investigator to follow a Miami Herald reporter who has written critical articles about the sector, according to court documents given to the South Florida newspaper.

The paper learned last week that reporter Michael Vasquez had been followed by a private investigator hired by Ernesto Perez -- the founder and majority owner of Dade Medical College. The situation was brought to light following a lawsuit by the private investigator against Perez for allegedly failing to pay the $4,971.87 contract.

Vasquez began covering the college's business practices in 2013.

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

A regional National Labor Relations Board office rejected Columbia University graduate student workers’ petition to hold a union election, saying it’s constrained by a precedent against graduate student worker unions. The NLRB has historically gone back and forth on graduate student worker unions, but such unions largely have been blocked (unless private institutions voluntarily recognize them) since a 2004 decision regarding Brown University established that graduate students are students -- not workers -- and therefore not entitled to collective bargaining. The new regional ruling doesn’t necessarily preclude a Columbia union in the future, however, since the NLRB recently indicated that it will again reconsider graduate student unions in a pending case regarding the New School.

Columbia students want to affiliate with the United Autoworkers, as do their counterparts at the New School. New York University graduate student workers already are represented by the UAW, since the university chose to recognize the union in 2013. William Herbert, executive director of the Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College at the City University of New York, said it’s probable that the union will petition for a review of the regional decision regarding Columbia, the process by which the New School case ended up before the NLRB. The two cases could be decided together, he said.

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross has come under fire from faculty and a high-profile administrator for his changing stance on how the system should address tenure in light of recent changes to its legal status in the state. Faculty members and Chancellor Rebecca Blank of the University of Wisconsin at Madison have criticized Cross’s recent directive that new tenure polices can’t be written at the campus level, saying that the guidance contradicts Cross’s earlier assurances that tenure as it’s known would be preserved at the campus level -- even though the Wisconsin state Legislature changed the law to make it easier to fire tenured faculty members.

“We were assured by Ray and others that Madison could write policies, which would be reviewed by the [system Board of Regents] for approval,” Blank wrote to John Behling, a regent who chairs a newly formed task force charged with reviewing the system’s tenure policies, in reference to Cross’s memo. “Those voices that have argued for more extreme policies (and have argued that the [board] is less than trustworthy on these issues) will be strongly reinforced, and those of us who have been trying to shepherd this in a responsible way toward resolution are likely to lose effectiveness.”

Cross’s memo -- as well as a draft version of a systemwide tenure policy saying professors could be fired for “underperforming” -- also angered faculty meetings at a faculty meeting late last month, according to the Wisconsin State-Journal. (Blank’s emailed letter was obtained by The Capital Times.) On Friday, the American Federation of Teachers in Wisconsin called for Cross to step down over his handling of the tenure issue, among others, saying “we no longer have confidence in his leadership.”

John Lucas, a spokesman for Madison, said Blank had since met with Cross to discuss her concerns. “Chancellor Blank is satisfied that UW Madison will have the opportunity to adopt its own language in [Madison’s] faculty policies and procedures, once a broad system policy is enacted,” Lucas added. “This is consistent with how other issues are managed between the system and individual campuses.”

Blank reiterated that message in a statement released late Friday, and said she expected the Madison Faculty Senate to pass a draft tenure policy today that will be sent to the system's tenure task force as a suggested campus policy. Once a broad system policy is adopted, she said, Madison will have the opportunity to finalize its specific terms. Behling said in a statement that he was glad Blank clarified her statement and that she and Cross are now “on the same page.”

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

A British Council survey of 1,348 international undergraduate and graduate students studying in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States asked about factors affecting their decision making in choosing a country and course of study. The report found that undergraduates tend to choose U.S. universities with the goal of increasing their career prospects globally. Graduate students are drawn by perceptions of rigorous education and high-quality research, and affordability.

“The U.S. perhaps has the most well-rounded value proposition to international STEM students: it is a country where students perceive they can engage in high-quality education and gain skills and research experience to apply to work either there or in their home countries; poststudy work experience in the U.S. has expanded and STEM students can now spend 29 months working -- though there remains debate about the future sustainability of this policy,” the survey report states.

The survey found that while significant numbers of international students hope to stay in their destination countries to work after graduation, a comparatively small proportion (15 percent) hope to migrate permanently.

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

Northeastern University will next year take its growing branch campus business outside the U.S., adding an outlet for professional graduate degree programs in Toronto. The university this spring opened its third branch campus in the San Jose, Calif., offices of Integrated Device Technology, giving Northeastern a presence in Silicon Valley. Other locations include Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle. In a press release, Northeastern said it is the first U.S.-based research university to receive approval to offer multiple degree programs in the province of Ontario without first having to partner with a university in the region.

Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:00am

The Humanities Indicators Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is continuing to explore the career outcomes for humanities graduates. Two new data sets explore gender and its impact on humanities graduates' salaries and occupations.


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