Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 23, 2014

Adjuncts at the College of Saint Rose, in Albany, N.Y., have voted to form a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union. The union has organized some 21,000 adjuncts across the U.S. as part of its Adjunct Action campaign. At Saint Rose, the vote was 175 to 61. Bradley Russell, an adjunct instructor of anthropology and member of the organizing committee, called the vote "historic," saying that Saint Rose had taken "a step to live up to its well-known commitment to social justice."

In a statement, Saint Rose officials said: "The issues surrounding the role of adjunct faculty in our nation’s colleges and universities is one that deserves national discussion and dialogue, and we thank our faculty for taking a role in propelling the conversation. Currently, approximately 70 percent of the undergraduate and graduate credits at Saint Rose are taught by full-time faculty and 30 percent are taught by adjunct faculty who bring a wealth of professional experience into the classroom. As the collective bargaining process gets underway, we will continue to work together to move Saint Rose forward and to provide excellence in teaching and mentoring to our students in and outside the classroom."

September 23, 2014

The search committee for the next president of Florida State University on Monday rejected the advice of faculty and student leaders and included a state senator without experience leading a college or university among four finalists, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. The other three finalists all have held senior positions in higher education. Many faculty leaders fear that the state senator is effectively assured the job, although trustees denied this was the case. The board is expected to pick the next president today.

 

September 23, 2014

A Chinese court has sentenced a university professor found guilty of "separatism" to life in prison, The New York Times reported. The Times said that the sentence is the most severe in recent years to a dissident. Ilham Tohti, the professor, teaches economics at Minzu University and is an advocate for ethnic Uighurs. In 2013, he had been expected to take a visiting position at Indiana University at Bloomington, but Chinese authorities blocked him from leaving the country.

 

September 23, 2014

Steve Cicala, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago, says he has canceled the lecture he was scheduled to deliver to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's College of Business next month. In a letter to Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Cicala calls Wise's stated reasons for pulling controversial scholar Steven Salaita's tenured job offer in the American Indian studies program weeks before the start of school -- namely that Salaita's anti-Israel remarks on Twitter were "uncivil" -- a "fig leaf" for other concerns. Cicala says he can't support the fact that Wise's decision may have been influenced by donors who emailed her about their concerns about Salaita before she made her decision to revoke his offer.

"I understand that you are in a difficult position," Cicala wrote. "It's quite easy for people like me to take potshots from the moral high ground without having to ensure sufficient funds to keep the lights on. I urge you to consider the long-term damage wrought by gutting the guarantee of inquiry free from outside interference. It far exceeds any short-term gain in donations from donors who don't understand the difference between a university and a political action committee."

Cicala sent his letter late last week, but has not heard back from Wise, he said. A spokeswoman for Illinois did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cicala said he hopes more economists will join the Illinois boycott movement stemming from the Salaita decision.

 

September 23, 2014

Thousands of university students in Hong Kong boycotted classes on Monday to demonstrate against Chinese government restrictions on voting rights, The New York Times reported. Organizers said that more than 13,000 students attended a Monday rally to protest a proposed change to election rules in which a nominating committee loyal to the leadership in Beijing would be able to screen candidates for the Hong Kong city government’s top post. Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and operates as a semi-autonomous region.  

September 23, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Amit Bhattacharjee, a professor of marketing at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, discusses the unintended consequences of a marketing plan that is too effective. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 22, 2014

University of Delaware officials confirmed that Eric Tranby, an assistant professor of sociology, is on leave and is expected to resign following allegations of sexual harassment, The News Journal reported. About 300 people rallied Friday at Delaware, criticizing the university for not being more open about why Transby has been placed on leave. The rally followed an article in The Review, the student newspaper, that said that Tranby was investigated over a student's allegation that he had offered her an A in return for sexual favors. Domenico Grasso, the provost at Delaware, sent an email to the campus in which he said the article in the student newspaper included "errors of fact," but he did not specify them. He said that he couldn't discuss specifics of the case, but that "this matter was handled promptly and appropriately, with sensitivity and clear communication with the student and her advocate, and in accordance with all University policies and the requirements of federal law." Both Grasso's email and a response from the Review may be found here.

In an email to Inside Higher Ed, Tranby said: "Last spring, there was a claim of quid pro quo sexual harassment made against me. I strongly deny any allegations that I asked for sexual favors in exchange for a grade, nor did I threaten the complainant in any way. The university takes all claims very seriously, as they should, and they promptly and appropriately investigated the claim. There were no findings of quid pro quo harassment, I was not disciplined, and I remain on faculty. I was upset by the allegations and ensuing rumors, and chose to take a leave of absence while I sought new employment."

 

September 22, 2014

First-time enrollment at U.S. graduate schools increased by 1 percent between fall 2012 and 2013, driven by 11.5 percent growth in new international students and despite a 0.9 percent decrease in U.S. citizens and permanent residents, according to a new report from the Council of Graduate Schools. About one in five new students at U.S. graduate schools is on a temporary visa.

Total enrollment at U.S. graduate schools (not just first-time) fell by 0.2 percent between fall 2012 and 2013. The CGS report includes extensive data broken down by field, degree level, and student demographics.

September 22, 2014

"This Week," Inside Higher Ed's weekly news podcast, this week featured a discussion between the New America Foundation's Stephen Burd, Editor Doug Lederman and the moderator Casey Green about the foundation's new report assessing how successfully (or not) colleges are using their Pell Grant funds to enroll low-income students. And in our other segment, Kyle Shachmut of the National Federation of the Blind's Massachusetts chapter argued for legislation designed to ensure that colleges make digital educational materials accessible to students with disabilities.

Stream or download the program here.

Or click here to receive a reminder when each week's "This Week @ Inside Higher Ed" podcast is available.

September 22, 2014

Minority students at Syracuse University are protesting cuts that they say will hurt the enrollment of minority students, Syracuse.com reported. Among the cuts they are protesting are a decision to reduce from three to one the cities through which Syracuse will recruit students through the Posse Foundation, which places groups of students from disadvantaged areas in colleges that will support them and provide financial aid. Syracuse officials acknowledged that they were scaling back involvement with Posse, but said that the university was committed to "attracting the best and diverse students we can from across the nation."

The protests follow a presidential transition at Syracuse in which a president who focused heavily on diversity (and who said she didn't care about rankings) was succeeded by one who has indicated more interest in rankings.

 

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