Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 24, 2013

Adjuncts at Wright State University reached their first union agreement with the institution last week. The 180-member union of full-time adjuncts is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors.

In an e-mail, Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the AAUP and professor of economics at Wright State, said the contract was notable for its tenure-like job protections, including assurances of due process and continuous employment. It also includes a 2 percent raise and professional development funds, among other benefits. A separate agreement signed alongside the contract guarantees workloads of seven to eight courses annually for full-time adjuncts, depending on their rank.

September 23, 2013

Like many colleges and universities with faculty/staff newspapers or websites, Iowa Now at the University of Iowa publishes periodic articles by faculty members. A recent piece, however, which questioned the validity of evolution, has angered many Iowa professors. The controversial piece -- by Ned Bowden, an associate professor of chemistry -- was about the conflict between science and religion, and argued that there need not be such a conflict. In making his case, Bowden wrote: "It's remarkably consistent how evolution and Genesis look at the process and tell the same stories using different words. Science can never prove or disprove God, but science can provide support for the existence of God and that is what the Big Bang and evolution can give us. There are, of course, holes in the theory of evolution that are big enough to drive a semi-truck through, but it is highly possible that evolution was the tool that God used to bring humans into being."

Twenty-five faculty members responded with their own piece. They said faculty members were entitled to their own views. But they questioned why the university would publish a piece that suggests evolution isn't a settled view in science. They wrote that just as today no scientists dispute that the Earth revolves around the Sun, "we no longer debate the central principles of evolutionary theory as a scientific framework for understanding Earth's diversity." Further, the faculty members said, "Iowa Now, by publishing a piece that suggests otherwise, has done a disservice to the university."

A spokesman for the university said via e-mail that, "as a public university, we welcome a diversity of views and encourage robust and civil dialogue. Iowa Now is one place where that takes place. The views of the writer ... are his or her own and not necessarily those of Iowa Now or the University of Iowa."

September 23, 2013

Many admissions officers at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling were complaining about technical glitches on the Common Application's new back-end system, which was launched in August. Some applicants have complained of difficulties in inputting their materials, while some colleges have had difficulties pulling applicant information from the system. Sessions featuring Common Application officials had lots of angry admissions officials in attendance. Many other enrollment officials, who didn't go to the sessions, saw the glitches as typical for major system overhauls -- and not that disruptive (assuming they are fixed soon).

Rob Killion, executive director of the Common Application, said that the system is already setting records in the number of applications being processed. He acknowledged that some bugs remain but said that he anticipated them being fixed "in a week or so." Here is the Common Application's status list of bugs.

September 23, 2013

Athletes took to national television to protest their treatment by the National Collegiate Athletic Association by wearing wrist tape with "APU" -- "All Players United" -- during their football games Saturday. Players from the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Northwestern University joined in to draw attention to issues including concussions and lack of pay. Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, told ESPN that the players have been planning for months and athletes on other elite teams are interested in participating in the protest, which will continue "throughout the season."

September 23, 2013

Don Samuelson, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Florida, has been charged by authorities with digital voyeurism for using a camera pen to secretly record the body parts of several of his female students, The Gainesville Sun reported. A police report said that Samuelson confessed, and said he made the videos of women's chests and thighs for his own enjoyment.

September 23, 2013

George Washington University removed from its sexual assault policy the two-year statute of limitations for filing formal complaints with the university, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday. The GW Hatchet reported that student government leaders had protested the policy. Some universities enforce such statutes to encourage quicker reporting, but since the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights started cracking down on sexual assault issues in 2011, some colleges have opted to eliminate or extend theirs.

September 23, 2013

The Cornell University men's lacrosse team was placed on “temporary suspension” after a hazing incident involving “coerced alcohol consumption by underaged freshmen,” spokesman John J. Carberry said Friday. All fall competitions have been canceled, but the team, which made the sport’s Final Four in last year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, will continue training and practicing “in accordance with sanction guidelines,” according to a university statement. Cornell’s president, David J. Skorton, has been outspoken about hazing issues, and in 2011 said the university would eliminate pledging in its Greek system in hopes of ending the practice. 

September 23, 2013

Adam Ackley says he is in danger of losing his job as a professor of systematic theology at Azusa Pacific University for identifying himself as a man, and telling administrators that he is transgender, ABC 7 News reported. The Christian university had known him as a woman for the 15 years he has taught there. The university released this statement to ABC 7: "University leadership is engaged in thoughtful conversations with our faculty member in order to honor the contribution and treat all parties with dignity and respect while upholding the values of the university. It is an ongoing conversation, and therefore, a confidential matter."

Students have organized a petition that says the treatment of Ackley has raised concerns for many others. "Adam Ackley, a beloved theology professor of 15 years, was 'asked to step down' from his position as a professor at Azusa Pacific University due to his recent openness about his identity as a transgender man," the petition says. "This event has sparked fear and anger within the LGBTQ and Ally community of APU. We stand in solidarity with Adam, and strive to create a safer environment for students and faculty who have been marginalized by APU's conservative policies, as well as those who have been victims of spiritual violence on campus."


September 23, 2013

Harvard University on Saturday announced the launch of a $6.5 billion fund-raising campaign, the largest ever in higher education. To date, the university has raised $2.8 billion in the "quiet phase" of the drive. Stanford University completed a $6.2 billion campaign last year and the University of Southern California is in the midst of a $6 billion effort.

September 23, 2013

The University of Alabama at Tusaloosa announced Friday that four black women and two other minority women will be joining the university's all-white sororities. The university has been engaged in an intense debate (and been subject to national criticism) following an article in the student newspaper about how black women have been rejected by the sororities -- sometimes at the behest of alumnae. The university first announced that sororities had agreed to a new system in which they could extend "bid" offers at any time of year, not just during the traditional rush period.

The university on Friday posted a video by President Judy Bonner in which she said that sororities had extended 72 of these new non-rush bids in the last week, with 11 bids going to black women and 3 to other minority women. In addition to the six minority bids that have been accepted, she said, others were being considered and might yet be accepted. She added that some sororities "are farther along than others" in desegregating.



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