Two public universities are receiving scrutiny over the rehiring of administrators who briefly retired, started receiving their pensions, and then accepted interim positions with some of the same duties they held before retirement. In Wisconsin, a state representative this week called off a hearing on tuition legislation favored by the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay because of his anger at the rehiring of a vice chancellor who returned to work a month after retiring, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. At the Louisiana State University Health Science Center, an administrator was retired for two weeks before returning to work, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Antelope Valley, a for-profit institution located in California, has announced that it is paying employers $2,000 for each graduate they hire. The "reimbursement for a UAV graduate's first month's salary" applies to hires made this month, and for jobs that relate directly to graduates' field of study. The university is relatively small, and received federal approval to issue associate's and other degrees in 2009. Industry analysts say the "Smart Hire" program, which also promises to streamline the hiring process for employers, is unusual in higher education. Job placement rates of for profits are a hot issue, most notably with the U.S. Department of Education's new "gainful employment" rules. In some cases for profits and law schools have been accused of falsifying graduates' employment data.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has unanimously approved policy changes that will give more autonomy and authority to individual campus leaders. The system will have less power on issues including the creation of new programs and auditing. The move follows a lengthy debate over governance in Wisconsin, set off by proposals (which failed to advance) to give autonomy to the flagship Madison campus. The proposal that was approved applies to all campuses.
Colleges continue to face unusual weather conditions as the academic year starts. Colleges in Pennsylvania, parts of New York State and elsewhere faced flooding -- leading to some closings Thursday. Bucknell University, facing concerns about the Susquehanna River and local creeks, closed Thursday. So did Lebanon Valley College. Susquehanna University on Thursday was helping some off-campus students evacuate from areas that were no longer safe. Montgomery County Community College, outside of Philadelphia, called off classes Thursday night. In New York State, Broome Community College was among the institutions forced to close. The State University of New York at Binghamton has called off classes, but opened facilities for use as shelters by citizens who have been evacuated from their homes.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed legislation to overhaul federal patent laws, overcoming some last-minute objections from Republicans to send the bill to President Obama, who is expected to sign it. The measure, which has strong support from many higher education groups, is designed to align the U.S. patent system more closely with patent systems in other major countries, and it would alter the law so a patent for an innovation would be granted to the first inventor to file an application for it, rather than to the creator of the innovation.
Librarians and archivists at the University of Western Ontario went on strike Thursday, The London Free Press reported. The dispute is in large part over salary levels. University officials said that they would keep libraries open, but that some reference services may not be available.
The sooner community college students enter an academic or vocational program, the more likely they are to complete a degree or transfer to a four-year college, according to research by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College of Columbia University. But a newly-released study from the center, which tracked 62,000 students at community colleges in Washington State over seven years, found that only about half ever became a program "concentrators" by passing at least three college-level courses in a single field. Less than 30 percent of students completed a degree or certificate, or transferred to a four-year college within seven years. But students were more likely to succeed if they entered a program.
Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, and Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, clashed on science issues in Wednesday night's debate of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Huntsman, while declining to name Perry as a candidate who is anti-science, said: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science." But Perry, the current front-runner, repeated his view that there is no consensus on climate change and invoked economic needs and a hero of science to make his point. "The science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell." A transcript of the debate may be found here.
Faculty members at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus went on strike Wednesday morning, arguing the administration’s new contract offer is unreasonable.
Around noon Wednesday, about 150 faculty members picketed the entrance to the 11,200-student university. The faculty union president Edward Donahue said union members voted overwhelmingly to go on strike after administrators refused to budge on salary levels.
As it stands, the university is asking for a faculty salary freeze for the first year and a combination of lump sum and incremental wage increases over the next four years of the five-year contract, said university spokesman Brian Harmon. Administrators ventured into classrooms Wednesday, explaining the situation to students and leading classes when possible, he said.
Ralph Engelman, a union spokesman, said the problem is with the lack of increases to the base salary levels in the first three years. Lump sum payments during those first three years will not be sufficient, he said. Donahue, who is also a chemistry professor at the university, said the faculty agreed to the one-year salary freeze and to increased costs for the faculty healthcare plan. “We’re only looking for a fair settlement that works out for everybody,” Donahue said. “We’re not asking for the moon.”