Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 20, 2017

Barnard College and the union representing its adjunct faculty members reached a deal late last week that will avert a strike that the United Auto Workers unit said could have come as early as this week. The contract, the first for the union at Barnard, will provide significant gains in salaries and benefits. Minimum per course pay will be set at $7,000 for this fall, and will rise to $10,000 by the fall of 2021 -- rates that both the union and the college said would be among the highest in New York City or elsewhere for those off the tenure track. For full-time, non-tenure track faculty members, the deal sets a minimum of $60,000 salary, effective in fall 2017. That would rise to $70,000 by fall 2021.

The union and its supporters held a rally (above right) Friday to celebrate the contract deal.

February 20, 2017

Hundreds of scientists, some in lab coats, held a rally in Boston Sunday to draw attention to their concerns about the Trump administration's policies. Speakers and signs criticized those in the administration who deny that climate change is real, who question the collection and distribution of data on science and other policies. Photos are from social media posts about the rally. More can be found a #standforscience. The rally comes as some scientists are planning a national march for science in Washington.

February 20, 2017

Student debt nationally hit $1.31 trillion at the end of 2016, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In the fourth quarter of 2016, just over 11 percent of that debt was either 90 or more days delinquent or in default.

 

February 20, 2017

President Lincoln held on to his first place slot as the best president of the United States in C-SPAN's third survey of presidential historians. He was followed by Presidents Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Lincoln also was ranked first in the two previous surveys, in 2009 and 2000.

The survey only considers former presidents so this was the first one in which President Obama was included. He ranked 12th, just behind President Wilson and ahead of President Monroe.

 

February 20, 2017

Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor, gave a lengthy interview to Bloomberg on Friday. Much of the discussion was about Cuban's pessimistic (for workers) view of the world of work in the years ahead. He predicted that automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate many jobs, leading to widespread displacement. Asked if this means students should major in finance, he rejected the idea, predicting "much greater demand for liberal arts majors" in 10 years than there will be for those who study programming and maybe engineering. It will be those with true analysis skills and creativity who will thrive, he said, specifically stating that majors in English, philosophy and foreign language are likely to be in high demand. The bad news for the liberal arts, in Cuban's view, is that its graduates "will starve for a while" until all of these job shift happen. The discussion of employment and majors starts around the 12 minute mark of the video below.

 

February 20, 2017

Kenneth Melilli, a popular tenured faculty member at Creighton University's law school, was suspended from Wednesday through Friday after an argument with an associate dean, The Omaha World-Herald reported. Melilli was suspended after the law dean consulted the human resources department about what he viewed as a threat. Many other faculty members said that there was no reason to suspend the professor and that -- in cases where suspension of faculty members may be warranted -- it is the faculty who should review the circumstances. Faculty members said that only the university's president can make an emergency suspension. Late Friday, Melilli issued a statement Friday indicating that he had been reinstated and that differences had been resolved.

 

February 20, 2017

More than 60 universities and government agencies in the U.K. and U.S. have been breached by a Russian hacker known as Rasputin, the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future found. The list of affected organizations include 25 universities in the U.S. -- Arizona State University, Cornell University and the University of Washington among them -- as well as 10 in the U.K. The hacker reportedly used an attack known as SQL injection, which can grant unauthorized users access to information stored on databases. Rasputin used the same exploit in November to breach the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

February 20, 2017

Authorities summoned 25 Nashua, N.H. police officers to break up a brawl at a basketball game Saturday at Daniel Webster College, New Hampshire Sunday News reported. Two Daniel Webster players were arrested, as was one fan. Police reports said that one of the Daniel Webster athletes was stomping on a member of the Southern Vermont College team, who was down on the floor at the time. An officer who was working security at the game was threatened when he tried to intervene, and so he sought more police officers.

February 20, 2017

Smith College on Friday announced that it has raised $486 million in a fund-raising campaign, setting a new record for a women's college. A key goal for the campaign has been student aid, for which the college raised nearly $130 million.

The previous record for a fund-raising campaign by a women's college was $472 million, set by Wellesley College when it finished a campaign in 2005. Wellesley may soon seek to reclaim the record. In 2015, the college launched a campaign with a goal of $500 million.

 

February 20, 2017

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health last week sent 277 admissions acceptance emails to people who had not been admitted, The New York Times reported. The university followed up a few hours after the incorrect notices were sent to tell people they had not been admitted. Columbia attributed the mistake to "human error."

Here is a background article from Inside Higher Ed about the many instance of such admissions errors, and ways colleges are trying to minimize the risks they face with electronic notification of admissions decisions.

 

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