Seven full-time faculty members -- most of them off the tenure track but including one tenured professor -- have received layoff notices, The Bangor Daily News reported. Faculty union leaders said that the university is eliminating jobs as a tactic in contract negotiations, which have been going on without progress since a contract expired in 2011. The university's spokesman said that the layoffs were needed for budgetary reasons.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Iowa Senate on Monday rejected two nominees of Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, for the Board of Regents, The Des Moines Register reported. The votes were largely along party lines, with Democrats opposing the nominees, who fell short of the two-thirds majority required for confirmation. Critics of the nominees cited concerns over whether they would be supportive of academic freedom, but Branstad and other Republicans said that the nominees were treated unfairly.
Wikipedia editors have been complaining about a University of Toronto psychology professor who encouraged students in a class of 1,900 to start posting entries, The Canadian Press reported. Some editors complained about entries that needed corrections, or that were plagiarized. Some even suggested banning entries from university IP addresses. But the professor pointed out that only 33 of the 910 articles submitted by his students were flagged for review.
Rutgers University will commission an independent review of “the circumstances surrounding the men’s basketball program as well as the procedures used to investigate allegations related to former head coach Mike Rice,” officials announced Monday. The review will look at how Rice’s behavior was addressed, form recommendations on how Rutgers can “improve,” and should move forward quickly, President Robert Barchi and Board of Governors Chair Ralph Izzo said in a joint statement.
Four Rutgers officials, including Rice and the former athletics director Tim Pernetti, have been fired or resigned since video of Rice physically and verbally abusing players at practice was made public last week. Izzo revealed Friday that the chair of the board’s Governors Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics had – like the ousted officials -- seen the video back in December but failed to act, and at least one state senator called on him to resign.
A committee of Colorado's House of Representatives killed legislation Monday that would have allowed the state's community colleges to offer four-year degrees, citing concerns about whether the state could afford to create new degree programs, the Associated Press reported. Most of Colorado's university leaders had opposed the bill, which officials of the Colorado Community College System said would allow programs only in fields where there was no competition with existing four-year institutions.
Some Yeshiva University alumni and supporters are calling on the university to block a planned award by a law school student group to President Carter. The student-run Journal of Conflict Resolution plans to give Carter its "Advocate for Peace Award" on Wednesday. A statement from alumni urging that the award be called off says: "Jimmy Carter is anathema to the aspirations of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel. Honoring him at a bedrock of the American Jewish community does not bring wisdom to life or combine a fine education with the teachings of Torah. Honoring Jimmy Carter makes the statement that, notwithstanding the empty claims by the administration that the journal’s choice does not necessarily represent the views of the institution, this individual is someone deserving of recognition. Awarding this honor to someone with Carter’s anti-Israel record that includes whitewashing the genocidal aims of Hamas, mainstreaming the notion that Israel is a racist state, and validating a nuclear Iran is quite simply abhorrent."
Richard M. Joel, president of Yeshiva, issued a statement Monday that also criticized Carter, but said that the award did not imply an endorsement by the university. "While he has been properly lauded for his role in the Camp David Accords of 1978, I strongly disagree with many of President Carter’s statements and actions in recent years which have mischaracterized the Middle East conflict and have served to alienate those of us who care about Israel. President Carter’s presence at Cardozo in no way represents a university position on his views, nor does it indicate the slightest change in our steadfastly pro-Israel stance," Joel wrote. "That said, Yeshiva University both celebrates and takes seriously its obligation as a university to thrive as a free marketplace of ideas, while remaining committed to its unique mission as a proud Jewish university."
Pittsburgh has been the site of some of the most contentious debates in recent years on payments by colleges to localities in lieu of taxes on their property -- and tensions are heating up again. The city recently moved to remove the tax-exempt status of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that, in response, colleges throughout the area have said that they will no longer negotiate with the city on payments they make to support local governments. "Making progress on these long-standing issues is difficult even in the best of circumstances,” said a letter from college leaders to the city. “It would be counter-productive to try to push forward in the adversarial environment that exists today.”
Professors at Transylvania University, in Kentucky, have sent a letter to President Owen Williams objecting to what they call "a climate of distrust and demoralization which affects daily operations of the college and the future aspirations of the faculty, administration and board," The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The letter follows the rejection by Williams of two candidates for tenure who had been approved by the relevant faculty committees. Williams said that he had deferred, not rejected, the tenure bids and that the faculty members had only to publish in a peer-reviewed journal to win tenure. But faculty leaders said that this was a new requirement, not one that was in place when the faculty members prepared for their tenure reviews, or when panels considered their candidacies.
The obituaries of Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, noted that the late British prime minister had enormous influence on her country -- with many divided about whether that influence was for the good. An article in Times Higher Education quoted supporters of Thatcher saying that she had promoted accountability and efficiency in ways that have had a positive impact. But the article also noted criticism from others that her budget policies started an erosion of the quality of Britain's universities.