The university told The Washington Post that 53 employees were laid off as of last Friday, the same day The Chronicle published a letter in which a trustee said financial woes and poor leadership had led the university to the brink of an existential crisis. The university said none of the layoffs affected faculty members, but provided no details on what positions had been cut or how much money had been saved. In a response to the letter, the board chairman said it had drawn “an unduly alarming picture of the university’s condition.”
Author Archives: Andrew Mytelka
is The Chronicle's articles editor.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who survived a recall election last year, has withdrawn his nomination of a University of Wisconsin at Platteville student to serve as a member of the system’s Board of Regents after learning that the student signed a petition seeking the recall vote. The student, Josh Inglett, a 20-year-old engineering-physics major and resident adviser, was praised by Governor Walker in a news release announcing the nomination on Monday. But on Wednesday a political blog called Right Wisconsin reported that Mr. Inglett had signed the petition to recall the Republican governor. Later in the day, after Mr. Inglett confirmed the accuracy of the report, the governor’s office withdrew the nomination. Governor Walker declined requests from reporters to explain his decision.
Ninety-two percent of the two-year college’s tenured faculty members said they lacked confidence in the leadership of Eileen Ely, who has been president of the college, in Washington State, since 2010. The no-confidence resolution cited what it said were violations of shared governance, and one professor described an “entire atmosphere of malaise and fear.” Ms. Ely said that the criticisms were exaggerated but declared that the faculty views were “important and valued.” The college’s board said it continued to support her leadership.
The two former students were sentenced to probation for their roles in an attack last year on a Penn State freshman who was pledging to join Omega Essence, a “little sisters” group affiliated with an unrecognized fraternity at the university, Omega Psi Phi. The victim was punched, slapped, and kicked, and ended up bloodied and injured. A third participant in the hazing, a member of the fraternity said to have been the ringleader, was convicted last week.
Each man pleaded guilty to one count of hazing, a misdemeanor, in a case that stemmed from a 2011 incident at the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and that left Jason Horton in the hospital. In a lawsuit against the fraternity and its officials, Mr. Horton said he and other pledges had been forced to drink vodka and mustard, had been pelted with eggs, and had been beaten up. He later suffered from internal bleeding and kidney damage, his lawsuit says. A total of 18 men have been charged in the incident.
President Obama promised on Wednesday to veto legislation, currently pending in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, that would prevent interest rates from doubling on some federal student loans by switching to a market-based formula for setting the rates.
The bill, HR 1911, was approved last week, on a largely party-line vote, by the House education committee. Sponsors of the bill, including the panel’s chairman, Rep. John P. Kline Jr. of Minnesota, described the measure as a rare opportunity for bipartisanship because it paralleled Mr. Obama’s proposal, in his budget plan for the 2014 fiscal year, to switch to market-based rates.
But in an announcement on Wednesday, the White House objected to the bill on several grounds, as “the wrong approach.” Unlike Mr. Obama’s proposal, in which an interest rate would be set for the life of each loan, the legislation “would not guarantee low rates.” Interest rates would be reset annually (although they would be capped), an approach that would “create uncertainty and lessen transparency” for students and their families, the White House said, and would particularly hurt low- and middle-income families struggling to finance a college education.
The White House statement also said Mr. Obama objected to the House plan because it would not allow all borrowers to take advantage of new repayment options and because it would use any money saved to reduce the federal budget deficit.
The Republican-backed legislation is expected to be approved by the full House, but its prospects in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where other bills are pending, are dimmer.
The university said that the coach, Brian Brecht, “did use inappropriate language and exhibited unprofessional behavior on occasion,” but “the instances were infrequent and not directed at individual players.” As a result, the university said, it “found no criminal or university-policy violations.” Mr. Brecht was suspended with pay last month amid a broad investigation of Rutgers coaches that followed the dismissal of the men’s basketball coach for abusing his players.
[Updated (5/3/2013, 2:11 p.m.) with NYU's official letter responding to the AAUP's criticism.]
The American Association of University Professors has sharply criticized New York University’s treatment of faculty members on its campus in Florence, Italy, declaring that adjunct professors there saw abrupt pay cuts and three longtime studio-arts professors were terminated, allegedly for trying to help form a faculty union.
The criticism, appearing in a letter addressed on Thursday to NYU officials in Florence and on its home campus, in New York City, asserts that the allegations, if true, would raise questions about NYU’s commitment to academic freedom and shared faculty governance, as required by both AAUP and international academic standards.
In a reply letter, Ellyn Toscano, executive director of the Florence campus, said that no staffing decisions had resulted from a faculty member’s support for unionization. Rather, the moves stemmed from changes last summer in Italian labor over the nature of the employment contracts that employers like the university could offer their staffs. “Far from sudden and drastic reductions and terminations,” the letter says, the university put faculty members on contracts that gave them a status comparable to tenure and enabled them to unionize, if they wished.
Moreover, the letter says, no faculty member saw a cut in compensation. Rather, “compensation was redistributed among benefits and take-home pay, in strict compliance with the law.” The letter also describes a “collaborative structure” of academic decision making that involves faculty members from both the Florence and New York campuses—not a system that violated AAUP or international standards of shared governance or academic freedom.
The changes on the Florence campus, according to NYU Local, a blog that covers the university, resulted from an effort to shift the campus’s emphasis from the arts to political science. As part of the changes, studio-arts classes were outsourced, and the affected faculty members apparently found out about the new direction suddenly, as they arrived for classes last fall.
In a response to NYU Local’s questions about the changes, Ms. Toscano said there was “no plan to eliminate the arts at NYU Florence” or to add social-science classes at the expense of the arts. John Beckman, an NYU spokesman in New York, told NYU Local that the abruptness of the announcement stemmed from a change in Italian labor law late last summer that affected the type of employment contracts the university could offer faculty members.
The AAUP’s letter appears to reflect the group’s increasing concern about whether American universities are respecting traditions of academic freedom and other faculty rights on the campuses they operate overseas. Thursday’s letter follows a similar message in December that questioned Yale University’s collaboration with the National University of Singapore to open a liberal-arts college in Singapore.
A computer engineer who stepped down in January from the University of California at Irvine faculty has been charged with six felony counts in connection with his alleged receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Japanese company that financed his research, according to the Voice of OC, a nonprofit investigative news agency focusing on Orange County, Calif.
The researcher, Tatsuya Suda, an Irvine faculty member for 25 years, also has been charged with perjury for his alleged attempts to hide the payments, which amounted to $325,000 to $700,000. According to local prosecutors, Mr. Suda double-billed the university for travel expenses that had already been covered by the Japanese company, KDDI Inc. If convicted of the conflict of interest, Mr. Suda could face up to eight years in prison, the news service reported.
Mr. Suda pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, the news service said, and his lawyer did not respond to an interview request.
Following an internal investigation by the university that began in 2009, Mr. Suda paid restitution of $145,000, but Irvine is seeking nearly $200,000 more, prosecutors told the Voice of OC.
Court records indicate that Mr. Suda acknowledged double-billing the National Science Foundation, where he served in the late 1990s, while on leave from Irvine, as director of a computer-networking division.
The video featured members of an Asian-American fraternity lip-syncing to the song “Suit and Tie,” by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, with one of the students in blackface to perform as Jay-Z. The fraternity, Lambda Theta Delta, said they did not intend to be racially offensive, and apologized, but the University of California campus’s Black Student Union said it was typical of racial insensitivity at Irvine. Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs, said any incident of racism or racial insensitivity would be investigated.