Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 26, 2014

Adjunct faculty members at the University of the District of Columbia voted 82 to 25 in favor of forming a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, they announced Monday. Part-time faculty members there join adjuncts at four other Washington-area institutions to form unions affiliated with the SEIU, and the organization says it now represents 75 percent of adjuncts in the metro area. A university spokesman declined immediate comment.

August 26, 2014

OpenStax College, a nonprofit publisher that produces free textbooks, will expand its library with 10 new titles by 2017. The publisher, an initiative out of Rice University, currently has seven textbooks (and another four in the works) covering popular topics such as biology, economics and physics. The new titles will be funded by grants from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Rice alumni.

August 26, 2014

An external investigation has found no wrongdoing in Sussex County Community College's awarding of a contract even though three of its trustees had ties to the engineering firm that received the contract, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported. The three trustees, all of whom voted to award the contract to CP Engineers, had all been paid for various services by the firm. The law firm that investigated the arrangement said that it had been awarded in line with state contracting laws.

August 26, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Steven Schandler, a senior professor of psychology Chapman University's Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, discusses the factors that influence ACOAs or adult children of alcoholics. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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August 25, 2014

John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix, died on Friday at the age of 93. The announcement was made by the Apollo Education Group, which grew out of the company Sperling founded in 1973.

The obituary noted Sperling's pride in taking on establishment higher education. “I was totally unprepared for the level of resistance and the passion of that resistance by professors and university administrators," he wrote in his autobiography, Against All Odds. Sperling retired as chair of the company's board in 2012.

August 25, 2014

Three students at Palomar College, in California, were killed in a car crash late Thursday, and five others were injured, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. All eight students were from Japan, and all were in a single car.

August 25, 2014

The Southern University System Board of Supervisors has voted not to extend the contract of President Ronald Mason, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported. Earlier, Mason had said that he would not stay on unless the board committed itself to a plan for improving the system, and the board didn't approve his plan. Mason has said that significant changes are needed at Southern, but board members have questioned whether his plans are detailed enough and faculty members have said that the system office is trying to run campus operations.

August 25, 2014

Peter Salovey, Yale University's president, used his welcoming speech to freshmen on Saturday to encourage them to respect free expression, particularly in the context of an academic environment. "In the last year or two, we have seen more than the usual number of events on college and university campuses across this country in which the freedom to express ideas has been threatened. Invitations to provocative speakers have been withdrawn; politicians, celebrities, and even university presidents invited to deliver commencement addresses have -- under pressure -- declined to speak to graduates; student protesters have had their signs destroyed by other members of a campus community," Salovey said. "In the most troubling of these 'free speech' incidents, speakers of various political persuasions have been shouted down and rendered unable to deliver remarks to campus groups who had invited them. Although we have not seen these kinds of episodes at Yale in recent decades, it is important on occasions like this one to remind ourselves why unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.

Salovey recounted how Yale in the past responded to an incident in 1974 in which a speaker (William B. Shockley, the physicist who become a eugenics advocate who suggested that black population growth was a problem) was shouted down. After the incident, Yale appointed the historian C. Vann Woodward to lead a panel that produced a report affirming the importance of protecting free expression -- even ideas such as Shockley's that angered many people.

In his address, Salovey closed by saying: "[T]he right to free expression does not relieve us of the obligation to think before we speak. That obligation is a responsibility that we willingly assume as members of a community where mutual respect and caring are salient values. Nonetheless, I recognize that all of us here, in different ways, might also like to live in a campus community where nothing provocative and hurtful is ever said to anyone. And that is the part that I cannot -- nor should not -- promise you. For if we are not willing to be shocked, then we may not be allowing ourselves to be open to life-changing ideas, ideas that rock our worlds. And isn’t the opportunity to engage with those very ideas -- whether to embrace them or dispute them -- the reason why you chose Yale?"

August 25, 2014

As part of a deal with its faculty union, the University of Saskatchewan has agreed to end the right of the president to veto tenure decisions, The Star Phoenix reported. Faculty at the university see the veto as antithetical to academic freedom. The agreement comes in the wake of numerous disputes over the relative power of administrators and faculty members at the Canadian university.

 

August 25, 2014

The University of Arizona has announced that, with a $9 million gift for an endowment, the institution will create a college of veterinary medicine. Such institutions are rare in the United States -- the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges lists only 30 members. Most are at land-grant universities. Getting into vet school is highly competitive anywhere, but it is particularly difficult for those in states without vet schools, as most of the public institutions favor residents. The Arizona announcement noted that the veterinary college at Colorado State University, in a neighboring state to Arizona, receives 1,600 applicants for 138 seats, only 55 of which are open to those from outside Colorado, and only a few of which typically go to those from Arizona.

 

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