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A Weaker ‘Yeshiva’?

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Point Park University on Monday announced that it was dropping legal appeals designed to prevent its full-time faculty from unionizing. The decision could be a sign that a December ruling by the National Labor Relations Board will make it more difficult for private colleges to fight off union drives for full-time faculty members.

And that would be a significant shift away from the 1980 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in NLRB v. Yeshiva University, a decision that has largely made unionization impossible for tenure-track faculty members at private colleges and universities, unless those colleges agreed.

In accepting the union, Point Park ended 12 years of legal battles to prevent collective bargaining by its faculty members, who voted in 2004 to be represented by the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America. A statement by the university noted that a prior administration at Point Park started the effort to block the union. “The current administration at Point Park does not wish to spend any resources on a potentially costly legal battle with its full-time faculty. Therefore, the university will recognize the right of the full-time faculty to form a union and begin collective bargaining accordingly,” said the statement.

As recently as May, however, the university was urging the NLRB to back off plans to apply its December ruling to Point Park. The decision by Point Park to drop its appeals follows the NLRB stating that it would apply the December ruling, which came in a case involving Pacific Lutheran University…read more

W.Kent Barnds loves his job. But with all the pressures facing higher education these days, it’s not getting any easier.

Mr. Barnds is vice president for enrollment, communication, and planning at Augustana College, in Illinois. He’s been there 10 years but has worked in higher education since he graduated from college, in the early 1990s.

A lot has changed in those two-plus decades, and Mr. Barnds’s job has expanded remarkably. Like other administrators and faculty and staff members on campuses around the country, he is learning to live in a world of tighter budgets, swelling regulations, and ever more assessment and competition.

“The pressure’s greater on enrollment officers for a whole host of reasons, but we’re not alone,” he says. “There’s increased pressure on every senior leader on a college campus.”

The squeeze to do more, often with less, has been felt throughout higher education. The proportion of tenure-track jobs continues to dwindle, the precariousness of choosing the professorial life reflected in the statistic that some 76 percent of faculty members now work as adjuncts. In the sciences, researchers have been learning to deal with little to no growth in federal support for a decade now; the budget of the National Institutes of Health has fallen about 25 percent, adjusted for inflation, since 2003. Their colleagues in the humanities, meanwhile, feel the weight of increased expectations…read more

Faculty Salaries

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“Faculty Salaries” is Inside Higher Ed’s latest print-on-demand compilation of articles.

It contains a report on the annual faculty compensation survey from the American Association of University Professors and explores such topics as gender and racial pay gaps and adjunct unionization.

This compilation is free and you may download a copy here.

And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Thursday, August 20, at 2 p.m. Eastern about the themes of the booklet.

To many institutions, veterans seem like ideal students: They’re seen as hardworking and driven, and they bring guaranteed tuition money through federal benefits.

It’s that last fact, many observers say, that has made service members so attractive to for-profit colleges. Federal law requires institutions to draw at least 10 percent of their revenue from sources beyond federal student aid; but education money that veterans qualify for under the Post-9/11 GI Bill count as a separate source, even though the benefit comes with a federal guarantee.

So for-profit institutions have recruited aggressively, and it has worked. Students veterans brought more than $19.5 billion to colleges through the GI Bill from August 2009 to September 2014, and nearly $8 billion of that amount went to for-profit colleges, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs…read more

Iworry about teaching. I was once reassured by a senior professor who told me that always, until the moment she retired, she trembled nearly uncontrollably before giving a lecture. I am not as bad as that, I thought.

At least not quite.

There’s a lot to worry about, and not just the literal business of teaching. So much of what we as professors do now — especially in Britain, where I teach — is evaluated, usually by people we used to call colleagues and now call assessors. We are asked for “feedback” on everything except how we feel about this. So long as our work is “aligned” to the “mission,” we hope everything will be OK.

We work under conditions of surveillance, the new Benthamite Panopticon of the campuses. Our universities provide us with enhanced opportunities to worry about whether we’re “performing” to the right level. Is this research good enough? Is this teaching good enough? Is this public-engagement work valuable enough? Am I showing “leadership,” doing “collaborative research,” applying for enough grants? Oh, yes, and have I got my “work-life balance” right?

The modern university is a breeding ground for worry…read more

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, has signed into law a budget bill that removes provisions on tenure and shared governance from state law — moves opposed by faculty leaders and administrators. Governor Walker and Republican allies have said that governing boards can replicate important features as system policy that need not be in state law. But this has not reassured many in higher education. Rebecca M. Blank, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is among those who wrote to Governor Walker to try to get him to veto such provisions. The law has made Governor Walker, who is about to officially kick off his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, unpopular with academic leaders nationwide, and many groups have come out against the changes. But there have been no signs that the push has hurt the governor with his political base, or that Walker backers are hearing the pledges to move tenure protections to a system policy. Grover Norquist, the anti-tax advocate who is influential in conservative circles nationally, on Sunday wrote on Twitter: “Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, passed new budget that ends tenure for public universities. Saves $250 million…original post

Since he was elected Wisconsin’s governor, in 2010, Scott Walker has been waging war against the status quo in higher education. Now he’s running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Mr. Walker, who will kick off his campaign on Monday, is considered to be one of the front-runners in the Republican field of more than a dozen declared candidates. As governor, he has earned a reputation for pushing controversial, conservative-minded reforms. Now, as he sets his sights on the White House, here’s a look back at how a few of his efforts to reshape higher education in Wisconsin have fared.

Attack on Collective Bargaining

Mr. Walker took office in January 2011. In February he announced a controversial “budget repair” bill, which, among other things, would strip public-college faculty and staff members of the collective-bargaining rights they won in 2009. Mr. Walker argued that the measure was crucial to plugging a big hole in the state budget.

Professors saw it differently. “We knew during the election campaign that Walker wasn’t friendly to labor unions,” Mark Evenson, a professor at the University of Wisconsin system’s Platteville campus, told The Chronicle at the time, “but we weren’t sure that he’d actually go through with a pretty radical version of what he talked about.”

Did he ever. With Republicans controlling both houses of the state’s Legislature, the measure passed amid furious protests and survived a court challenge.

Mr. Walker’s assault on collective bargaining was a major reason he was the subject of a recall vote in 2012, which he survived in yet another setback for public-employee unions and academic workers…read more

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined the debate over Fafsa simplification on Wednesday, issuing a paper that calls for making the process of applying for student aid simpler, more open, and better timed.

The document, the first postsecondary-policy paper by the megafoundation, adds the nation’s biggest philanthropist to the chorus of voices calling on the U.S. Congress and the Education Department to slim down the form and let students apply for aid earlier in high school.

Some of the paper’s solutions have been proposed before, including allowing applicants to populate the form using tax data from two years earlier. Others are more novel, including a plan to sort applicants according to the complexity of their financial situations.

The paper builds on the work of a group of Gates grantees who studied simplification as part of its Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project. What sets it apart, said Daniel Greenstein, director of education, postsecondary success, at the foundation, is the level of detail it provides…read more

What I Wish I Had Known

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July 8, 2015
 

As I look back on my employment since graduating with my Ph.D., I realize that there are numerous things that I wish I had known much earlier in my career. This list is not intended to deter you from an academic career, or portray it as being the best job option available. It is simply a list of things that I wish I had known before I even graduated.

1. Many colleges and universities are going through a transition from a time when research was not that important to a time when it is imperative. If you are at one of these institutions and you were under the impression that a certain amount of research would get you tenure, you should not be surprised if the amount of research you will need increases dramatically before you actually go up for tenure. At first I thought that a couple of peer-reviewed articles would be enough for tenure, especially since I do not teach at a research university and I am in a discipline where many people do not go into academe. However, during my first year on the tenure track at my current institution, I realized that only two articles would not allow me to jump through the tenure hoop.

2. When you go up for tenure, look at successful tenure applications that were submitted within the last two years. If you obtain examples of successful applications that are older than this, the research expectations at that time may not accurately reflect what they are today…read more

The University of California system has unveiled a project to ease the transition for students who transfer from the state’s community colleges. The system’s Transfer Pathways sets forth a set of courses meant to prepare a transfer student for any of 10 majors at universities in the system.

“This initiative offers community-college students a transparent road map for transfer to UC, as well as for timely completion of their bachelor’s degree in their major of choice,” said the chancellor of the California Community Colleges, Brice W. Harris, in a news release. “This adds to the work we have been doing with other four-year partners to streamline transfer and expand options for our talented students.”

The system plans to incorporate 11 more majors into the project. At that point, according to the release, two-thirds of admissions applications from transfer students will be covered by the pathways…original post