All posts by Andrew Mytelka

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Portland State Threat to Block Faculty Email Broke Oregon Law, Board Says

When Portland State University threatened last year to shut down unionized faculty members’ access to their email if they went out on strike, the university broke Oregon law, the state’s Employment Relations Board ruled last week, according to The Oregonian. The board, which said the threat interfered with faculty members’ exercise of their right to unionize, ordered the university to never again make such a threat and to inform faculty members of the ruling. A strike never happened, as the university and the union reached a tentative agreement on a contract.


The university’s 2014 announcement said “electronic log-in credentials for striking employees will be disabled during a strike, preventing access to email” and other electronic systems.

Read more at: www.oregonlive.com

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Champlain College to Offer Online Programs to Federal Workers, at a Discount

Champlain College and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced on Monday that they had teamed up to offer the Vermont college’s online programs to the federal government’s more than two million workers. Under the partnership, federal workers, their spouses, and their adult dependents will be able to take Champlain courses at a 70-percent tuition discount. The college offers more than 60 online-degree programs toward certificates, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees in “high-growth, in-demand, and mission-critical fields.” The new program resembles one, announced last year, that involves the University of Maryland University College.


“Champlain College takes a distinct approach to adult online education, forming alliances with enterprises to break down the wall between academia and industry, and providing students with critical knowledge and skills that are directly transferable from the classroom to the office,” said Jayson Boyers, vice president of Champlain College.

Read more at: www.champlain.edu

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Female Faculty in UCLA Center Faced Hostile Workplace, Inquiry Finds

Female faculty members at the University of California at Los Angeles medical school’s research center on Alzheimer’s disease worked in “a climate of conflict, tension, hostility, and mistrust” and faced “unprofessional, demeaning” treatment, reports the Los Angeles Times, citing a letter that describes the results of an external investigation. The letter, from Jonathan Hiatt, vice dean for faculty, said the inquiry had confirmed complaints filed by three women, who said their treatment was retaliation for reporting violations of research protocols. The Times could not reach Mr. Hiatt for comment. The letter did not identify the women or the men found to have discriminated against them, and did not indicate whether anyone had been disciplined as a result of the findings.


In the letter, Hiatt wrote that he brought in an external investigator to look into the complaints, interview current and former faculty and review documents. The resulting report was finished in October and declared that the women faculty “had correctly identified and documented the unprofessional behavior to which they had been subjected” and had brought their complaints to the attention of administrators numerous times without a proper response, he said.

Read more at: www.latimes.com

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Study Suggests Sexist Hiring Doesn’t Explain Dearth of Women in Science

Sexist hiring practices are commonly blamed for the underrepresentation of women in many fields of academic science, but new research suggests that such an assumption is wrong. In the research, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, male and female faculty members in four fields under study preferred to hire female applicants, by a two-to-one ratio, over male applicants with identical qualifications and life situations (single, married, divorced).

The study,

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Escaping a Jam, Stockton U. to Sell Former Casino in Atlantic City

Stockton University has arranged to sell a defunct casino in Atlantic City, N.J., if it cannot find a way to use the building for a branch campus, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The New Jersey university had planned to use the former Showboat property to create an “island campus,” but a neighboring casino, owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, said it would invoke a legal covenant that restricts the property’s use to a casino-hotel. Under an agreement announced on Friday, Stockton will sell the property to a real-estate developer if it fails to work around the legal covenant. The university does not expect to profit on the deal, the Inquirer reports.


Stockton would sell the property to Straub’s Polo North Inc. for $26 million, which will be placed in escrow for 90 days. Stockton bought Showboat in December for $18 million and has spent additional money securing and preparing the property for occupancy.

Read more at: www.philly.com

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Faculty Critic of NYU’s Role in Abu Dhabi Is Target of Secret Investigation

Andrew Ross, a faculty member at New York University who has been a sharp critic of the abuse of migrant workers in the construction of its campus in the United Arab Emirates, is the target of a mysterious investigation, The New York Times reports. An investigator has been seeking out “people to comment negatively” about him, the Times says, but has refused to disclose who hired her.

The investigation has also taken aim at a reporter, Ariel Kaminer, who co-wrote an article for the Times about th…

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After Weeks of Limbo, South Carolina State’s Board Fires President

Three weeks after putting South Carolina State University’s president on leave, the institution’s Board of Trustees voted on Monday to fire him, reports The State, a newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

The ousted president, Thomas J. Elzey, had drawn criticism for not doing enough to lead the historically black university out of a morass of debt and accreditation troubles, although the board did not specify why it had acted against him, according to The State.

The financial problems, including a $17-mil…

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Education Dept. to Drop 5 Collection Agencies Over ‘Deceptive Practices’

[Updated (3/2/2015, 12:35 p.m.) with response from a trade association representing the five agencies.]

The U.S. Education Department is cutting ties with five private collection agencies that it says provided inaccurate information to student-loan borrowers. In an announcement late Friday, the department also said it would step up its monitoring and guidance of such collection agencies, which work under government contracts, to ensure that they give borrowers accurate data on their loans.

The …

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U. of California President Calls Off Proposed Increase in Tuition

Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, has postponed a planned tuition increase as a gesture of good faith while negotiations continue with Gov. Jerry Brown over state support for higher education, the Associated Press reported. The university’s Board of Regents voted in November to raise tuition by as much as 5 percent in each of the next five years, to make up for lower-than-expected state funds.


Speaking at the University of Southern California on Wednesday, Napolitano said she was also hopeful the university system will be able to forestall any tuition increase for the next academic year.

Read more at: abcnews.go.com

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U. of Texas Chancellor Convenes Panel to Review Admissions Practices

William H. McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas System, said on Monday he had formed a committee to look into admissions practices on the flagship Austin campus. The announcement came in the wake of a report, issued last week, that said the campus’s president, William C. Powers Jr., had intervened to help well-connected applicants gain admission, sometimes despite the admissions office’s wishes.

Mr. McRaven charged the committee with studying the report’s recommendations and best practices in the admissions field, and reporting back to him within 60 days. The committee’s members are a Who’s Who of former University of Texas leaders, including three former presidents of the Austin campus and three former system chancellors.

“My goal is to ensure full and open transparency to the public with respect to how admissions decisions are made at UT Austin.” McRaven said. “I realize that admissions practices are complicated and nuanced processes, but we must clearly define a policy that determines the degree of appropriate discretion at the institution level, while ensuring a fair and transparent process for applicants.”

Read more at: www.utsystem.edu