Academic Freedom for the Southern Community

Archive for April, 2012

(From The Chronicle of Higher Education)

April 25, 2012, 2:42 pm

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it has found reasonable cause to conclude that Emory University engaged in illegal discrimination and retaliation in its 2010 decision to deny tenure to H. Erik Butler, then an assistant professor of German. Mr. Butler, who is now an adjunct instructor in California, alleged in his EEOC complaint that Emory had discriminated against him for being U.S.-born and Jewish, and had retaliated against him for raising discrimination concerns. In her letter of determination in the case, Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta office, said she had reason to believe Mr. Butler’s accusations and had been unable to substantiate the university’s assertions that Mr. Butler had been denied tenure for “disruptive” and “antagonistic” behavior. She advised the university and Mr. Butler to enter into conciliation talks. Emory’s treatment of Mr. Butler also has been criticized by the American Association of University Professors, which accused the university of denying him tenure in a manner that appeared to violate due process and shared governance.

ConnCSU Commons

Posted by admin under Uncategorized

The BOR recently announced an internal, online community—ConnSCU Commons—for the faculty and staff of the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities under its purview. ConnSCU Commons is described by the BOR “as a safe and secure forum for faculty and staff to share ideas, ask questions and interact with each other.”

According to

by William Creeley


Every year since 1992, the good folks at the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expressionaward their annual “Jefferson Muzzles” to recognize those across the nation “who in the preceding year committed some of the more egregious or ridiculous affronts to the First Amendment right of free speech.” And just about every year, a Muzzle or two ends up being awarded to someone on a college campus. Surprised? Neither are we!

This year, two schools earned well-deserved Muzzles by stifling student speech in shocking ways. Torchreaders will remember that FIRE intervened in both cases.

First, the Thomas Jefferson Center awarded Catawba Valley Community College administrators a Muzzle for banning student Marc Bechtol from campus. His offense? Criticizing the college’s cozy relationship with a financial services provider on Facebook. The Thomas Jefferson Center explains:

(Read Article Here)
(From The Chronicle of Higher Education)

By Emma Roller


Democrats in the U.S. Senate announced plans on Tuesday to introduce legislation that would prevent interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling on July 1, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

Both President Obama and his likely Republican challenger in November, Mitt Romney, support extending the lower interest rate for one year. Republicans in Congress say they also want to stop the rate from increasing, but are concerned about how to pay for it. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that extending the 3.4-percent rate for one year would cost an estimated $6-billion.

Democrats have not revealed details of their bill yet, but according to news reports, it would finance the extension by raising payroll taxes on some corporations. The National Journal quoted Sen. Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, as saying that the bill would require entities known as “S corporations” with three or fewer shareholders who declare income of at least $250,000 a year to pay employment taxes.

President Obama, who is on a two-day tour of college campuses, spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Tuesday afternoon and urged students to contact their members of Congress and ask them to block the interest-rate increase. The president is also scheduled to visit universities in Colorado and Iowa during his tour.

The interest-rate problem stems from 2007, when Congress voted with bipartisan support to cut the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans in half by 2011, from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. The lower rate is set to expire on July 1.

By Jack Stripling

National Harbor, Md.

If the conversation here Monday is any indication, higher-education leaders see a growing tension between their presumed mission to produce better citizens and the myriad other functions that students, parents, and lawmakers would have colleges serve.

Indeed, the voices calling for colleges to prepare students for employment, or to stimulate stagnant economies with research breakthroughs, are often louder than those suggesting higher education is really about building better human beings, several panelists and attendees posited at the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities 2012 National Conference on Trusteeship.

The tensions cited Monday are hardly new, but they have added resonance at a time when students are paying higher tuition with lower prospects after graduating for employment in an anemic economy. Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of the Association of American Universities, warned college leaders against bowing to public pressure to transform into job-training programs…read more

By Eric Kelderman

Proponents of a broad overhaul of the nation’s accreditation system are likely to be disappointed in the changes that a federal advisory panel will recommend to the education secretary. But supporters of the current accreditation process are not likely to be much happier about those recommendations.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity is an 18-member panel that advises the education secretary on whether to approve accrediting agencies as gatekeepers of federal financial aid. In order for students to receive federally backed loans or grants, their institution must be accredited by a group that has been recognized by the Education Departmment.

The advisory panel, which was overhauled in the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, began meeting more than a year ago with an additional charge from the education secretary: to suggest ways that accreditation should change in the next reauthorization of the main federal higher-education law, which expires at the end of 2013…read more


Appendix I State tables (for specific institutions) (.pdfs)

Alabama – Kansas
  Kentucky – New Mexico
New York – Wyoming


Full-Time Faculty Compensation


The AAUP has been surveying colleges and universities to collect data on full-time faculty compensation for more than six decades. One purpose of this project has been to provide faculty members with data they can use to compare their salaries and benefits with those of their peers. Another is to provide comparisons between institutions, which are useful to faculty members and academic administrators involved in hiring and compensation decisions.


The most basic measure of the economic status of full-time faculty members is the change in the overall average salary level when compared with the previous year. For the 2011–12 academic year, this average was 1.8 percent higher than in the previous year at those institutions that submitted data to the AAUP in both years. The top half of table A documents this year-to-year change in overall average salary for the last four decades. With the rate of inflation this year measured at 3 percent, 2011–12 marks the third consecutive year—and the sixth year in the last eight—in which the change in average full-time faculty salary has fallen below the change in the cost of living.


As this last point underscores, average full-time faculty salaries have been stagnant for a number of years, dating back well before the most recent recession. Figures in the upper half of table A and the left half of survey report table 1 include results only from institutions providing data in two consecutive years. When all of the salary data submitted in each year is adjusted to account for inflation, the overall average salary of a full-time faculty member in 2011–12 is less than 1 percent higher than it was five years ago, in 2006–07.


As has been the case for decades, salaries at different types of colleges and universities have moved at different rates over the past year. Survey report table 1 provides a breakdown of the year-to-year change by type of institution and faculty rank. The left half of the table presents the change in overall salary levels. Again this year, the increase in average salary was greater at private colleges and universities than at those in the public sector. This difference held across baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral institutions and for both religiously affiliated and independent private institutions. Although salary increases for some private college faculty members lagged behind those in public institutions, the aggregate figures document a widening gap between the two sectors.


The other major indicator derived from AAUP data is the change in salary for continuing faculty members. Unlike the measure described above, which assesses changes in salary for all full-time faculty members, the continuing faculty measure is designed to reflect the experience of individual faculty members who remained employed at the same institution. In 2011–12, continuing faculty members received an average salary increase of 2.9 percent, barely keeping pace with inflation. The results of the continuing faculty salary analysis are shown in the lower half of table A and the right half of survey report table 1.


The average salary increase for continuing faculty members is generally greater than the change in overall average salary. It includes all forms of salary increases (across-the-board, discretionary, and promotion) and does not reflect the lower starting salaries of newly appointed faculty members who are often replacing more senior colleagues. As table A indicates, the 2.9 percent average increase for 2011–12, while higher than the rate the previous two years, forms part of a historic period of minimal increases in faculty salaries. Aside from the last two years, the average increase for continuing faculty members was the lowest it’s been in the last forty years!


The pattern of increases for continuing faculty members by institutional sector, depicted in survey report table 1, mirrors the changes in overall average salaries. The average increase for all continuing faculty members with full-time appointments at independent private colleges and universities was 3.6 percent, as compared with an average of 3.1 percent at religiously affiliated institutions and 2.6 percent at public-sector institutions. The private-sector advantage held across all three institutional levels where we have sufficient data from both public and private institutions.


In sum, faculty salary levels this year are marginally better than they have been the last two years but are still historically low. The recovery is slow in coming.

By Audrey Williams June

Administrators at Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University demonstrated a deep disregard for tenure when they cut academic programs and eliminated the jobs of tenured professors last year, the American Association of University Professors says in a report it is issuing today.

Neither Louisiana institution, the report says, adhered to the association’s principles of academic freedom and tenure as they discontinued a total of about 30 academic programs and terminated at least 20 tenured professors associated with them at the end of the 2010-11 academic year. The cuts were part of a larger plan developed by the Louisiana Board of Regents designed to get rid of inefficient programs as a way to save money in advance of projected budget reductions.

The AAUP’s report says the association has no evidence that faculty members at Northwestern State were given a chance to discuss with administrators whether alternatives to terminating 16 faculty members had been pursued. Faculty members also were largely shut out of the committee that selected programs to cut, and they played a minimal role in identifying which faculty positions would be affected, the report says. The association also said it was “deeply concerned” that Northwestern State wasn’t able to find new jobs for the fired faculty members that would let them maintain their tenure status, as the system’s policy says it allows when programs are discontinued. Instead, the institution retained some of the tenured professors to continue teaching their courses but as lower-paid non-tenure-track faculty…read more

Members of Oregon State University’s chapter of American Association of University Professors, an organization that’s helped launch faculty unions nationwide, are happy to see the unionization efforts at University of Oregon move forward.

The United Academics of the University of Oregon filed union authorization cards from a majority of faculty with the state Employment Relations Board last month.

As one of the last public institutions in Oregon to be without a faculty union, the OSU chapter’s own long-term goal is to form a collective bargaining unit. Some of OSU’s graduate employees and all of its support and janitorial staff are represented by unions.

Read more:

Chronicle of Higher Education

April 9, 2012, 12:59 pm

Adjusted for inflation, state support for each full-time public-college student declined by 26.1 percent from 1990 to 2010, forcing students and their families to shoulder more of the cost of higher education at a time when family incomes were largely stagnant, according to a report released on Monday by the think tank Demos. The report, “The Great Cost Shift: How Higher Education Cuts Undermine the Future Middle Class,” says that over the same 20-year period, the published tuition-and-fee price of a four-year public-college education increased 116 percent. The report recommends that states reform their tax systems to make more money available for higher education, that they direct money to need-based aid rather than merit aid, and that they make college completion a goal of their spending.