Academic Freedom for the Southern Community

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The director of Ohio State University’s marching band has been fired after an internal investigation found he presided over routine sexual harassment among students, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

A 23-page report on the investigation, conducted by the university, states that the director, Jonathan Waters, knew or should have known about a variety of inappropriate rituals and traditions among student members, including an annual practice when students march in their underwear, the expectation that first-year members perform “tricks” on command, and the performance of sexual poses on bus trips. The investigation was prompted by a parent’s complaint.

Mr. Waters was fired, effective on Thursday, said Michael V. Drake, Ohio State’s president. ”We’re looking for a future where that band can continue to thrive and do wonderful things, but some of the aspects of how the band was guided are not acceptable in the modern world,” Mr. Drake told the newspaper.

Ohio State’s marching band is one of the most famous in the country, notable for, among other things, its size. It has 225 members, according to the band’s website.

This is not the first firing in recent years to follow a sexual-harassment investigation at Ohio State. The head of the university’s cheerleading squad was fired last year after she failed to report the sexual harassment of a student member by two assistant coaches.

(Original Post)

Conflict in Academe

Posted by admin under Uncategorized
July 23, 2014

All workplaces entail conflicts, of varying scales and of varying levels of importance or unimportance. One significant factor in the quality of our work lives is not so much whether conflict exists, but how it is handled within our departments and institutions. There are some situations in which we can merely avoid conflict, and it is by far the more prudent course of action to do so. Conflicts of any variety should not be courted, nor pursued unnecessarily. But we might also do damage — to ourselves and our careers, our colleagues, students, and institutions — by avoiding conflicts at all costs and thereby allowing important issues to go unresolved, to fester and continue their harm.

We are all familiar with the trope of the notoriously cranky colleague who courts conflict — personal and professional — at every opportunity. These individuals seem, cantankerously and perversely, to relish the disputes that they manufacture. Our culture has developed many entertaining and colorful phrases to describe such people, and so I don’t need to concern myself with those folks here. I’m much more concerned about another reaction to conflict that can be nearly as toxic — perhaps even more toxic. That reaction is one of simple avoidance: all too common even among some of us who hold leadership positions and are explicitly charged with addressing or resolving a variety of types of professional conflicts.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed 

Baby Steps for Higher Ed Act

Posted by admin under News

July 24, 2014
Michael Stratford
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation boosting competency-based education and overwhelmingly approved an overhaul of how the Education Department discloses college data.
The votes marked the first time that a body of Congress has formally weighed in on the ongoing efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the massive law that governs federal student aid, which expires at the end of this year.
But reauthorization is still far off. Wednesday’s bipartisan votes belie the stark divisions on Capitol Hill over key parts of the law that make it unlikely Congress will renew the Higher Education Act before year’s end. Congress has rarely acted in recent years to reauthorize the law on time; the last reauthorization took five years.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Andy Thomason

The recent explosion of publicity surrounding cases of sexual assault on college campuses has not been kind to many people in the world of higher education. It has been kind to Brett A. Sokolow.

The influential higher-education consultant has long made a living by advising colleges on risk in an era of risky behavior. Mr. Sokolow’s business, the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, has founded or financed a handful of groups that conduct training sessions on issues that present liability concerns for colleges.

Its newest offering, announced on Tuesday, is “Resolution Services,” a way for colleges to outsource their sexual-assault investigations to the center. Among other things, the center “guarantees to have investigators on a campus within 48 hours of a request, and to keep personnel in place until the investigation and resolution are complete.” All for a flat fee, and some assurance that the college will be in compliance with the law.

(Read More)

Not So Fast

Posted by admin under Uncategorized
July 23, 2014

The Service Employee International Union’s adjunct organizing drive seemed for a time to be on cruise control, with “yes” votes for unions at more than a dozen campuses from Washington to Los Angeles since 2012. SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign did hit a speed bump at one institution outside Boston – Bentley University – but the union defeat there last year was by a narrow margin, and many onlookers chalked it up to Bentley’s unique business focus. The campaign quickly returned to speed in that city, with successful union drives at Lesley and Northeastern Universities (in addition to Tufts University), and others across the country.

Then the campaign hit the Twin Cities. Adjuncts at Hamline University in June overwhelmingly voted to form a union, but elsewhere there have been two major roadblocks: a canceled vote at St. Paul’s Macalester College last month amid calls by many adjuncts to slow down, and a decisive defeat just this week at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis.


Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

The California State University system has lowered its plan to accommodate more students this fall after receiving less than expected in state appropriations, the Los Angeles Times reported. The 23-campus system, which drew 761,000 applications for admission this fall, a 2-percent increase, will be able to enroll 9,900 more students than last fall, but will have to turn away about 10,000 who are qualified to enroll.


July 22, 2014

Lisa Guinn was one of the lucky ones. The historian was offered a tenure-track job at one institution in 2008 after a one-year stint there as a temporary professor. Two years later, she got lucky again – or so she thought – when she and her husband, also a historian, were both offered tenure-track jobs at Upper Iowa University. Knowing how rare dual assistant professorships are in history, they took the jobs. They believed in the university’s liberal arts mission and were looking forward to reviving its history major, which they did in 2012.

Now, despite strong faculty reviews, both Guinn and her husband, Thomas Jorsch, are out at Upper Iowa, and they still haven’t been told why. Jorsch was able to find a tenure-track position at Bethany College, in Kansas, but Guinn will be working there as an adjunct. The irony is biting. 

So what happened?


Read more:
Inside Higher Ed 

Higher education cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as states and secondary schools devise common standards that seek to define who’s ready for college, according to a report released on Tuesday by the New America Foundation.

The report, “Common Core Goes to College: Building Better Connections Between High School and Higher Education,” calls on colleges and public schools to work together to agree on what it means to be college-ready.

Common Core State Standards in mathematics, writing, and literacy have been adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia as a way to prepare students for college and the work force. Some states have resisted the standards however, and they remain highly politicized and deeply controversial among educators.

(Read More)

The unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors at the U.S. border has propelled immigration back to the forefront of our political discourse. There are, of course, already hundreds of thousands of undocumented children in our country, some of whom graduate from high school and want to enter college. What can and should institutions of higher education do?

Over the last few years at my Roman Catholic university, we have begun to act, both admitting and financially supporting undocumented students. It may seem risky, but as Donna Carroll, our president at Dominican University, always says, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Over the past few years, Carroll has become a national leader in advocating for more opportunities for undocumented students and in support of the Dream Act (a bill that would provide permanent residency status to people who arrived here illegally as minors and graduated from a U.S. high school). In fact, many Catholic universities are not just working to help undocumented students but taking leadership roles in efforts to change U.S. immigration policy on this issue.

(Read More)

In the perhaps naïve belief that no one at my institution reads my columns (go on, prove me wrong), I have decided to spend some time reflecting on my current state of uncertainty as a middle manager who doesn’t know who her next boss will be.

Waiting out the search for your new boss is unnerving. Because when you’re a dean, your boss makes a big difference in how you do your job—and, sometimes, in how well you do your job. Tenure-line faculty members don’t have bosses. Administrators really, really do.

In an academic department, your boss is your department chair—and that might someday be you. Department chairs are drafted or elected or take their turns in rotation, and they usually slide back into their normal roles as department members after. Knowing that someone down the hall will be your next boss serves a real function in keeping most of us honest as department chairs. The colleague you offend today could be your chair in a few years.

(Read More)