Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 16, 2014

Northeastern University adjuncts are the latest to vote to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Thursday. The union, with about 900 members, is SEIU's biggest in the Boston area. The union also represents adjuncts at Tufts and Lesley Universities there. SEIU is trying to organize adjuncts at institutions across metro areas nationwide; the Northeastern announcement comes on the heels of "yes" union votes at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Howard University in Washington, and Mills College in California in recent weeks. SEIU called the Northeastern vote a "bellwether victory" in its Adjunct Action campaign. The vote was 323 in favor to 286 opposed. In a statement, Stephen W. Director, Northeastern's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said "Northeastern will now bargain in good faith with SEIU about the terms of employment for part-time faculty members who were eligible to vote in the election."

 

May 16, 2014

The Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom is protesting the refusal of authorities to allow a Turkish scholar of Kurdish history, İsmail Beşikçi, and his traveling companion to board a U.S.-bound flight from Istanbul reportedly at the behest of American government authorities.

According to MESA’s account, Beşikçi was invited to speak on April 22 at American University in Washington, D.C, but he and his companion, the director of a nonprofit cultural foundation, were turned away at the airport despite possessing valid visas to travel to the U.S. Airport personnel reportedly told Beşikçi that the refusal to let him board the flight originated with U.S. government authorities, an allegation that, in a media report, a spokeswoman  for the U.S. Department of State neither confirmed nor denied, citing a provision of immigration law prohibiting the government from commenting on individual cases. 

In a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Charles Johnson, MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom asked that the government investigate the incident and make public whether or not the refusal to allow Beşikçi to travel resulted from a request by the U.S. government.

May 16, 2014

New York University provides a subsidized apartment to Henry Louis Gates Jr. even though he teaches at Harvard University, not NYU, The New York Post reported. Gates told the Post that he has served as an adviser to NYU President John Sexton, and has given a few free talks and NYU over the years. He also said that Sexton has made clear he would love to recruit Gates someday. 

May 16, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Muhammad Khalifa, assistant professor of educational administration at Michigan State University, studies the role of hip hop in schools. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 15, 2014
The Modern Language Association announced this week a new way of organizing disciplines and information. Dozens of new "forum" categories replace current divisions and discussion groups, in an attempt to simplify, democratize and update areas of study within the organization, MLA leaders say. Starting in 2016, the forums also represent guaranteed sessions at MLA's annual conference. MLA has published a "Frequently Asked Questions" page to assist members with the change, and is currently recruiting executive committee members for each forum. Some forums have been merged, split or reconfigured from former divisions and discussion groups, and many are new. Examples of new forums include Latina and Latino; African Diasporic; Modern and Contemporary Chinese; Korean; Global Arab and Arab American; and American Sign Language. The discipline review was MLA's first in 40 years. MLA says the new structure was guided by a commitment to languages and their histories; the protection of small fields; an attempt to minimize hierarchies among fields; a desire to lessen the divide between English and foreign languages; and recognition of emergent areas of study.
 

 

May 15, 2014

Ethical considerations should be deeply integrated into neuroscience research and education, a federal panel of bioethicists said in a new report released Wednesday.

The report was requested by President Obama last year after he launched a research initiative to better understand the human brain. The document lays out four recommendations: ethics should be integrated explicitly through all stages of neuroscience research; government agencies and other research funders should support research on ethics; ethics instruction should be integrated into all levels of science education; and advisory and review boards for the administration’s neuroscience research initiative should include people with ethical expertise.

“Because research on our brains strikes at the very core of who we are, the ethical stakes of neuroscience research could not be higher,” said Amy Gutmann, the University of Pennsylvania president who chairs the bioethics commission that produced the recommendations. “Too often in our nation’s past, ethical lapses in research have had tragic consequences and derailed scientific progress.”

May 15, 2014

Online course enrollment at California's community colleges has grown rapidly during the last decade, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan research group. However, student success rates in online courses are lower for all types of students, across a wide set of subjects and across almost all of the state's two-year colleges. Black, Latino, male, less academically prepared and part-time students in particular do markedly worse in online courses than traditional ones, the study found. 

May 15, 2014

James Kilgore, who is on the verge of losing an adjunct position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, got the chance Wednesday to speak directly to the university's board about his controversial past. Kilgore has been receiving good reviews, and every indication that he could return, but that changed after publicity over his past (about which he privately had informed the university when he was hired) with the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the jail time he served as a result. In his remarks, he spoke of the need for adjuncts to have job security and transparent evaluation systems, and he urged board members not to write people off because of a criminal past.

Kilgore also addressed his own role with a violent group. "As a young man I committed acts of which I stand ashamed, acts which were not only illegal, but utterly destructive to innocent members of the community and damaging to my family, loved ones and all those who campaigned for social justice and peace. For more than three decades I have attempted to move beyond those acts, to chart a different road, working through non- violent means as an educator in the cause of social justice," he said. He added that like "many people who have traveled errant pathways, have learned lessons which are important for young people to know. Who better to tell someone how to avoid a destructive path than someone who has walked that path? And what better place for young people to learn these lessons than in the most esteemed universities in the land, like the University of Illinois?"

Kilgore's reappointment is currently under review by administrators.

 

May 15, 2014

Robert Buckingham was fired as dean of the public health school -- and banned from campus -- at the University of Saskatchewan this week because he spoke out publicly against a controversial reorganization plan, CBC News reported. A statement from the university provost did not dispute the reason for the dismissal, saying: "It is not open to anyone to wear the hat of a leader and a non-leader simultaneously." The specific act that got him fired was releasing a statement called "The Silence of the Deans" that explored the many reasons to oppose the university administration's plans, and suggested more people should be speaking out.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers issued a statement backing Buckingham: "The outrageous firing of the University of Saskatchewan dean undermines the very basis of the university. What the president of the University of Saskatchewan has done is an embarrassment to the traditions and history of the University of Saskatchewan and it is an embarrassment to post-secondary education across Canada. It’s inexcusable. Buckingham should be reinstated immediately and U. of S. President Ilene Busch-Vishniac should issue a public apology. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, along with our member association, the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association, are going to do everything possible to see that this injustice is remedied."

May 15, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Peter Turchin, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, discusses complex mathematical algorithms. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Pages

Back to Top