Higher Education Quick Takes
The Illinois Labor Relations Board has certified the University of Illinois at Chicago United Faculty Union as the exclusive bargaining representative (through two units) of full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty members, and of full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members. The union originally wanted to represent both groups in the same unit, but the university objected. After several rounds of legal fighting, the union filed for -- and now has won recognition -- for two separate units. United Faculty is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.
New Jersey legislators on Thursday approved a plan that would merge most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers University, and that would form a partnership (though short of a full merger) between Rutgers at Camden and Rowan University, The Star-Ledger reported. Governor Chris Christie has pushed for the changes (and a full merger between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan). but many have questioned the latter proposal in particular.
As the Waldo Canyon fire continues to ravage Colorado Springs, some area colleges are taking steps to protect students and personnel against potential harm and provide support for those who have already been affected. According to a news release posted late Wednesday night, the U.S. Air Force Academy has relocated about 550 cadets off its grounds -- about 200 summer academics cadets moved to the nearby University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and the other 350 cadets who were participating in training programs were released to their local sponsor families. In-processing for class of 2016 cadets, slated to begin Thursday, will continue as scheduled, but all other base operations are closed. According to releases from earlier in the day, no structures on campus are threatened by the fire. Residents from two housing areas were ordered to evacuate Tuesday as a precaution due to the unpredictability of the fire.
Residence halls at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs -- which accepted some Air Force Academy evacuees -- are at capacity and can no longer accept evacuees, according to an update posted Thursday morning on the university’s website. Classes, activities and offices continue to operate on normal schedules. The Air Force Academy and another area college, Pikes Peak Community College, have also found ways to contribute to the firefighting effort. The academy canceled its normal cadet flying training and opened its airfield for Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management helicopter operations.
Pikes Peak's student government organized a donation drive for evacuees and was collecting items -- they requested snack items, clothing in good condition, cereal, quick meal items and pet food -- all day Tuesday and Wednesday.
A federal official has recommended that the Federal Emergency Management Agency reverse its decision to provide tens of millions of dollars to help the University of Iowa replace three buildings that were damaged in 2008 flooding, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported. The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an audit this week recommending that Homeland Security officials not provide $83 million in funds to replace three buildings that have been part of the university's efforts to rebuild in the wake of devastating floods. The audit was prompted by a complaint that FEMA should have repaired rather than replaced the buildings. Iowa officials said they were hopeful that Homeland Security administrators would reject the inspector general's recommendation, the newspaper reported.
The Research Universities Futures Consortium, a group of 25 research universities across the country released a report Thursday highlighting the challenges facing the universities. The report identifies six major issues: increased competition over scarce resources, the increased cost of regulatory compliance and the lack of indirect cost recovery, the lack of standardized performance metrics, the lack of proper infrastructure to analyze data, poor communication about the value of research universities, and the lack of proper understanding of the complexities of research administration and leadership.
The report echoes many of the concerns found in the National Research Council's latest report on actions that state and federal lawmakers, research universities, and businesses can take to ensure that the country's research universities maintain their position as the best in the world.
The British newspaper The Telegraph sent undercover reporters to talk to admissions agents in China about the chances of gaining admission to competitive British universities, and the answers have created a stir. According to the newspaper, agents that represent the universities are telling people in China that they can earn admission with significantly lower test scores than would be needed by a British student. The Telegraph has also reported that headmasters of some British schools are reporting that their non-British students are earning admission to universities while British students with better test scores are being rejected. The suspicion of many is that British universities, which may charge much more to foreign students than those from Britain, are favoring those from overseas.
Times Higher Education reported that Cardiff University, one of the institutions named in the Telegraph article, has started an investigation into whether pledges are being made to potential students from China that are inconsistent with university policies.
Although women are being appointed as medical school deans in larger numbers than was true two decades ago, they remain dramatically underrepresented in the schools' top jobs, served at less-prestigious institutions, and have far shorter tenures in the jobs, according to a study to be published in the August issue of Academic Medicine. The study finds that women were 15 percent of the deans appointed between 2000 and 2006, but were only 7 percent of all appointees over all from 1980 through 2006. Men were twice as likely as women to serve at highly ranked medical schools, and female deans had an average tenure of just three years, compared to 5.4 years for men.
A panel of experts has released recommendations on how college teams can minimize the dangers of sudden deaths of players during conditioning exercises. The recommendations follow number of deaths during practices. Coaches are urged, among other things, to use gradual increases in demands on athletes so they can acclimate themselves to the physical demands, to introduce new activities gradually, and not to use conditioning exercises as punishments.