Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

The Washington Internship Institute has selected a Vanderbilt University expert on experiential learning to lead the organization. Mark Taylor Dalhouse, founding director of Vanderbilt's Washington internship program and a lecturer in history and assistant dean at the university, will succeed Mary Ryan as the institute's president and CEO. The internship institute sponsors numerous programs that place American and foreign college students in government and international relations positions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Illinois at Chicago and a faculty union seeking to be recognized have been fighting over whether a single unit can represent both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty (as the union wants) or whether separate unions are needed (as the university wants). The union is now proposing that the university recognize two unions, but that may not happen either -- at least right now. Last week, an Illinois appeals court ruled that state law bars a single union for the faculty groups. Throughout the dispute, the university has said it would not object to two unions, and on Tuesday the union proposed just that. It stated that it would not appeal the court ruling, but asked the university to "voluntarily" negotiate with two faculty unions -- even though the only official filing of petitions has been on behalf of a single union.

"We take this step because, like you, we are concerned about the deteriorating relations between the faculty and the administration. Although the appeal process so far has only worsened those relations, we recognize and applaud the board’s acknowledgement that there is a problem," says the letter from UIC United Faculty, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. "In urging you to begin negotiations with us as two bargaining units, we are, of course, only asking you to do what you have consistently said you wanted to do..... We ourselves are not convinced that two separate units is the best way to foster a better relationship between the faculty and the administration but, like the administration, we are very eager to make that relationship better....  If you will join us -- on your terms -- at the bargaining table, the turnaround can begin today."

The university indicated, however, that it may insist on the two unions starting from scratch obtaining signatures on petitions. A spokesman said via e-mail: "As a general policy and practice, the university does not voluntarily recognize unions as 'exclusive representatives' for collective bargaining on behalf of groups of employees. Majority interest is determined either by the union prevailing in a secret ballot election, or by investigation and certification by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board that the union has obtained authorization cards signed by a majority of employees in the bargaining unit."

Union leaders said that the university's response raised doubts about its earlier statements about being open to two unions. But the union has collected petitions for two unions and is prepared to go ahead one way or another, they said.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 4:22am

The University of Alabama has extended the contract of its head football coach, Nick Saban, in a way that boosts his annual pay by $550,000 a year and restores his status (at least for the moment) as the country's best-paid coach, the Associated Press reported. (Saban had been the best-paid coach when Alabama hired him in 2007, but he had since been passed up by others.) The new contract, which would keep Saban at the university until 2019, will pay him $5.32 million in 2013 in salary, benefits and what Alabama calls "talent fees," which include his contracts with apparel and media companies; that total will rise to $5.9 million by the end of the contract, AP reported.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 4:32am

Gov. Chris Christie's plan to restructure New Jersey's higher education system -- most notably (and controversially) by merging Rutgers University's Camden campus into Rowan University -- needs the approval of the state Legislature before it takes effect, an independent panel in the state declared Monday, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark. Christie had signaled a willingness to work around the legislature to push through the plan, which includes merging parts of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers. But the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, in a non-binding opinion obtained by The Star-Ledger, said the plan requires the approval of lawmakers.

In a related development, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to look into Christie's proposed restructuring of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Lautenberg's letter expressed concern that the plan was "crafted to benefit powerful political interests without regard for the impact on students."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The trustees of the University of Massachusetts on Monday selected Kumble R. Subbaswamy, provost of the University of Kentucky, as chancellor of the system's flagship campus in Amherst, which will have had four chancellors in a decade. The reign of the current chancellor, Robert C. Holub, went off the rails last spring when word leaked that a UMass panel had recommended that his contract not be renewed. Subbaswamy, a physicist, has been provost at Kentucky since 2006, and previously served as a dean at Indiana University at Bloomington and the University of Miami. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct Subbaswamy's academic discipline.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The National University of Singapore has revoked the scholarship of and imposed other punishments on a Chinese student who posted online comments saying that Singaporeans were "more dogs than humans," Asia One reported. The comment infuriated many in Singapore. The student -- who has apologized -- must pay a fine of $3,000 and do three months of community service to be eligible to graduate.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

When Datatel and SunGard Higher Education merged last year, the two companies said that the combined venture would have a new name, but one wasn't ready. So the merged company has been called Datatel + SGHE. On Monday, the entity announced a new name: Ellucian. Michelle Reed, chief marketing officer, said in a statement that "Ellucian evokes the clarity and light that learning brings to life, aspects that we aspire to share in our relationships with institutions of higher, further and vocational education around the world."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

University of Minnesota graduate student workers have voted against unionization, The Star-Tribune  reported. About 62 percent of graduate assistants opposed forming a union, according to results announced Monday, with two-thirds of 4,400 eligible students voting. This was the fourth failed attempt since 1990 to unionize graduate workers. University administrators said they were pleased with the results.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Joni Hersch of Vanderbilt University explores the relationship between pay and the likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Students on many campuses held protests last week of the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black 17-year old who was shot and killed in Florida. His killer has claimed self-defense and, to date, faces no charges, outraging many. Other campuses are planning protests this week.

The case -- seen by many as highlighting the discrimination faced by young black men -- has been the subject of particular discussion at historically black colleges and universities. More than 100 Livingstone College students held a protest Friday. Howard University students held a vigil. At Paul Quinn College, President Michael Sorrell invited students and others to attend a rally that attracted hundreds. Students at Winston-Salem State University also held a protest.

The protests and activities are by no means limited to historically black colleges. At the University of South Florida, black students organized a protest in which they sat with signs that demonstrated what Trayvon Martin had with him when he was shot. Signs said:

  • Hoodie. Check.
  • Package of Skittles. Check.
  • Drink. Check.
  • Black. Check.

Those statements were followed by the quote: "Hope I don’t get shot."

Western Michigan University students are planning a rally for today at which they are encouraging people to wear hoodies. A protest is also planned for today at Virginia Commonwealth University.




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