Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 5, 2018

Image of Academy Award statuetteOur friends at Times Higher Education celebrated Sunday night's Academy Awards by determining the institutions with the most alumni among nominees. Leading the pack was New York University, with six nominees. Six other institutions tied for second with three nominees each: Emerson, Harvard and Yale Universities, and the Universities of Michigan, Oregon and Southern California.

March 5, 2018

Cover image of Inside Higher Ed's "Evolving Faculty Careers" shows a dark-haired person in academic regalia, facing away from the camera.Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today our latest print-on-demand booklet, "Evolving Faculty Careers." You may download a free copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webcast on the themes of the booklet, on Thursday, April 12, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

March 5, 2018

Dixie State University fired two faculty members on Friday with no public explanation, according to The Spectrum. Dozens of staff members and students reportedly waited outside a campus building during administrative hearings for Glenn Webb, chair of music, and Ken Peterson, director of vocal studies. Both professors addressed the crowd after the meeting, saying they would likely not be returning. "The administration has made its intentions clear," Peterson reportedly said, suggesting that “alleged derogatory remarks” were at play in his case. "It's been a good run," he added.

Dixie State said in a statement that both professors’ tenures were terminated, but it did not say why. "The university carefully weighs the decision to terminate professors and makes every effort to support, invest in and advocate for our faculty and staff," it said. The Spectrum reported that Dixie State fired another professor of theater in 2015 after a student alleged he had hurt her in a stage exercise, even though a faculty review board cleared that professor, Varlo Davenport, of wrongdoing. Davenport sued the university in 2017, after a jury acquitted him of assaulting the student in a criminal case. Webb and Peterson reportedly testified on behalf of Davenport in his civil case against Dixie State.

March 5, 2018

A regional National Labor Relations Board office said Friday that student housing advisers at Reed College may hold an election to form a union. Reed argued against the students’ right to do so, saying that the NLRB had erred in a major 2016 decision classifying student workers on private campuses as employees entitled to collective bargaining. Reed also argued that the proposed unit should include other students serving in peer-support roles, not just housing advisers. 

Ronald K. Hooks, regional director of the NLRB’s Seattle office, found that students in the proposed Reed unit are union-eligible and that their duties are distinct from those of other peer-support workers on campus. The 2016 decision from the NLRB, concerning graduate student workers at Columbia University, was surprisingly broad in its scope, saying that not only teaching assistants but also research assistants and even undergraduate workers on private campuses were entitled to collective bargaining. 

Another NLRB regional director said last year that resident advisers at George Washington University could hold an election to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. Organizers called off that vote, however. 

Also last week, the NLRB ordered Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit to engage in collective bargaining with its adjunct faculty union, which is affiliated with United Steelworkers. Part-time instructors at Duquesne’s McAnulty College voted to unionize in 2012, but the university has said its Roman Catholic affiliation puts it outside NLRB jurisdiction. The board has said otherwise, with the exception of the theology faculty.

Reed had no immediate comment on the housing adviser matter. Duquesne said it plans to appeal the NLRB's decision in federal court.

March 5, 2018

Amid a decline in enrollment and an upcoming round of layoffs, Tidewater Community College faculty members made an informal declaration of no confidence in President Edna Baehre-Kolovani in a document released to The Virginian-Pilot. The declaration of no confidence also includes an executive vice president at the college.

The declaration followed Baehre-Kolovani’s announcement of another round of layoffs at the college as enrollment continues to drop. In 2016, the college had 34,397 students enrolled -- 14,000 fewer than in 2011, and a decrease of 1,200 from 2004. Last year, the state cut the higher education budget by 4.2 percent, which led to a loss of $8.5 million and layoffs of 27 people, including 17 full-time employees in administrative positions, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

The document details a list of concerns about the president, including a “lack of transparent and professional communication” and the “absence of authentic shared governance.” More specifically, the faculty members wrote that Baehre-Kolovani mismanaged a phishing scam in 2016, didn’t listen to faculty on changes to the academic calendar and altered requirements for online teaching a number of times.

Baehre-Kolovani responded to the document in an email to faculty Monday: “After advice to ‘not be silent’ and the plea from a number of faculty to ‘correct the misinformation,’ I have decided to do just that,” the president wrote.

The president also denied some of the accusations made against her, saying that many faculty members participated on task forces that examined the academic restructuring.

On Thursday, Baehre-Kolovani sent an email to faculty announcing layoffs would concern the English and emergency medical services departments in particular, and would go into effect at the conclusion of the fiscal year June 30.

March 5, 2018

Two high-level administrators at Crafton Hills College were recently placed on administrative leave, as reported Friday by Redlands Daily Facts.

President Wei Zhou, who was appointed in June 2016, and Interim Vice President of Instruction Kathy Bakhit, who has served in the role since January 2017, were placed on leave effective immediately, according to a March 2 statement issued by the San Bernadino Community College District.

The statement didn’t provide a reason for the decision. “We thank them for their service at Crafton Hills College,” the statement reads. “However, it is SBCCD’s policy not to comment on matters relating to personnel.”

According to the statement, “SBCCD will work with faculty, staff, students and community members to launch a national search to recruit a new campus president and vice president of instruction. We are committed to building on Crafton Hills College’s legacy of innovative workforce development programs and academic excellence.”

Faculty and staff were made aware of the decision in a March 1 memo issued by District Chancellor Bruce Baron.

March 5, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Vincent Schiraldi, senior research scientist at Columbia University, says looking only at the current population of prisons is only half the story. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 2, 2018

Photo of Jon Parrish PeedePresident Trump on Friday nominated Jon Parrish Peede (right) to become chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Peede has worked at the NEH since April 2017, serving as senior deputy chairman. Since William D. Adams, an appointee of President Obama, stepped down as chairman in May, Peede has effectively been the senior person at the NEH.

In his first two budget proposals, Trump proposed eliminating the NEH, but Congress has rebuffed him.

Peede has experience in the humanities publishing world. He has served as publisher of Virginia Quarterly Review, at the University of Virginia; literature grants director at the National Endowment for the Arts; director of communications at Millsaps College; and an editor at Mercer University Press.

The National Humanities Alliance published an interview with Peede in October. In that interview, Peede said that he viewed the NEH as “a catalytic funder” that can encourage “institutional buy-in” and help start “new areas of the humanities.”

March 2, 2018

A former medical resident at the University of Rochester Medical Center is suing the institution, saying it failed to protect her from Johan Blickman, vice chair of the center’s department of imaging sciences and a professor of pediatrics. The former resident says she was doing a rotation in pediatric radiology in 2014 when Blickman invited her to his house to discuss a research paper, then drugged and raped her. She alleges that the professor blackmailed her with nude photographs, threatening to destroy her life if she complained about him, and continued to coerce her into sex. She further accuses Blickman of meeting with her boyfriend and asking the boyfriend to help him kill his ex-wife.

Rochester told the Democrat & Chronicle that it first heard about an "inappropriate relationship" from the woman’s attorney in 2016, two years after she left the medical center, and subsequently "took action based on our findings." A university spokesperson declined to say what action Rochester took in 2016 but said that it received “new and different” allegations last week. Blickman is now on paid leave, pending a review, the spokesperson said, noting that Rochester has not heard from law enforcement about the case. Blickman did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Florian Jaeger case at Rochester. Jaeger, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, was cleared of wrongdoing by campus inquiries and an outside review paid for by the university, but a group of his colleagues and former students are suing the university for its handling of complaints against him. He is currently on leave from teaching.

March 2, 2018

Texas Wesleyan University fired Mike Jeffcoat Thursday as head baseball coach after he was quoted saying that he would not recruit athletes from Colorado, The Star-Telegram reported. The move came amid uproar over Jeffcoat, citing Colorado's legalization of marijuana, saying that students recruited from the state might fail drug tests.


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