Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 21, 2014

The public safety director at Illinois's Concordia University has been fired after his arrest for allegedly masturbating in a colleague's office, The Chicago Tribune reported. A female employee told police that she spotted Timothy Margis adjusting his belt while leaving her office, and then discovered semen in one of her shoes. Officers arrested him at his home for misdemeanor public indecency and disorderly conduct, and Concordia suspended and then fired him, the newspaper reported.

February 21, 2014

Full-time, non-tenure-track lecturers at the University of New Hampshire’s Durham and Manchester campuses have voted overwhelmingly -- 141 to 23 -- in favor of forming a union affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, they announced Thursday. Key issues for UNH Lecturers United-AAUP include clear terms of contract, job security, firm contract renewal deadlines, pay raises in step with lecturers at other institutions, and fair policies for evaluation.

 

February 21, 2014

Johnny Moore resigned Thursday as president of Philander Smith College after just 18 months, the university said in an emailed statement. Moore became president of the Arkansas historically black institution in July 2012, succeeding Walter Kimbrough, who became Dillard University's president. Philander Smith officials did not offer any explanation for the unusually short tenure, saying only that Moore was leaving to pursue other opportunities.

February 21, 2014

A South Carolina legislative committee has voted to punish two public colleges for assigning freshmen to read books with gay themes by cutting the institutions' budgets by the total spent on the books in programs for freshmen, the Associated Press reported. The College of Charleston was criticized for making Fun Home, an acclaimed autobiographical work by Alison Bechdel, and the University of South Carolina Upstate assigned Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, which is a collection from the state's first gay radio show. Representative Garry Smith, a Republican, said he proposed the cuts to get colleges to take his concerns seriously. "I understand diversity and academic freedom," he said. "This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate."

Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a Democrat, said legislators were interfering in academic decisions, and would draw ridicule from outside the state. "We are now in a posture where individual moral compasses and beliefs are being pushed down on our institutions of higher education," she said. "Do you think for one minute some companies are going to look seriously at us, when they think about their workforce coming to a state like this, with members of a Legislature who believe their job is to pass judgment on colleges of higher learning to dictate what books people are going to read?"

(Click here for more on this controversy.)

February 21, 2014

Adjuncts at Seattle University filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board Thursday to hold an election to form a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union. SEIU also is organizing adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran University in Seattle, which has challenged the NLRB’s jurisdiction over its campus based on its religious affiliation.

A spokesman for Seattle University, a Roman Catholic institution, directed questions about the filing and whether the university would challenge NLRB jurisdiction based on its religious status to a statement posted on its website from Isiaah Crawford, its provost. It raises numerous concerns about the union drive, including that NLRB "oversight could infringe on our Jesuit tradition and Catholic identity." About 350 full- and part-time non-tenure-track faculty are eligible for union membership.

Also on Thursday, the NLRB said there was no need to review the composition of the proposed bargaining unit at the University of LaVerne, in Los Angeles, where SEIU also is organizing adjuncts on multiple campuses as part of its nationwide Adjunct Action campaign. LaVerne previously had asked that the union election be open to all adjuncts at its satellite campuses; the SEIU-proposed unit is open only to adjuncts working on the main campus.

In a statement posted to its website, LaVerne said:  “We are disappointed that our inclusive approach has been rejected. However, this decision should pave the way for the ballots, which have been cast and returned to the NLRB Regional Office, to be promptly opened and counted.” Voting began Feb. 5 and ended last week. Ballot counting was delayed, pending the national NLRB decision, as well as an unfair labor practice claim related to the union drive filed against the university.

February 21, 2014

Wellesley College's president, H. Kim Bottomly, has announced that she will not remove a controversial statue from a campus art exhibit, The Boston Globe reported. The statue is a realistic portrayal of a man in his underwear, sleepwalking, and many students have said that they find it disturbing. In a message to the campus, Bottomly said that “we cannot destroy the artistic integrity of this exhibition by moving the sculpture, and also, we must do everything we can to support those students who find themselves deeply affected by it.”

February 20, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Scott of the University of Waterloo discusses the potential inability for previous winter Olympic host cities to host the games again due to changing weather patterns. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

February 20, 2014

Some state legislator are calling for the University of Oklahoma to return a painting that was looted by the Nazis to the Jewish family that once owned it, The Oklahoman reported. Family members have sued the university, but Oklahoma has said it will not return the painting unless ordered to do so by a court. There is no dispute that the Nazis looted the painting from the family, but the university cites a 1953 court ruling in Switzerland that the family waited too long to claim the painting. “The university does not want to keep any items which it does not legitimately own,” said David Boren, president of the university. “However, the challenge to the university, as the current custodian of the painting, is to avoid setting a bad precedent that the university will automatically give away other people’s gifts to us to anyone who claims them.”

But Edie Roodman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Oklahoma City, said, "I think it’s certainly of concern within the Jewish community that a painting that was plundered under the Nazis was not returned to its rightful owner."

The painting is "Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep," by Camille Pissarro, currently part of the collection of the university's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

 

February 20, 2014

Marquette University announced Wednesday that 25 non-faculty employees are being told that their jobs are being eliminated, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. With other open positions not being replaced, the total number of jobs at the university is expected to drop by 105. University officials said that they were trying to minimize spending, and to minimize tuition increases.

 

February 20, 2014

An article in The New York Times explores the charges in a lawsuit against Premier Education Group, which operates for-profit colleges in 10 states. Officials of the colleges maintain that they are being sued unfairly by "misguided" or disgruntled former employees. The suit charges that the colleges admit students in part by misleading them about their chances of getting jobs. An example: One of the ex-employees who sued said she became concerned when she noticed an electronic ankle monitor on a student in a pharmacy program for which certification would likely exclude those with felony convictions. The ex-employee said she was told to find an internship for the student, even if she had to deceive the employer.

 

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