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Higher Ed as a Public Good

ACADEME BLOG

University Business has published an article that initially caught my eye because of its title–“A Pillar of the American Dream: Higher Education as a Public Good.”

But what really caught my eye was the list of co-authors: Lloyd A. Jacobs is president emeritus and professor at the University of Toledo; Janine E. Janosky is dean and professor, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, University of Michigan­Dearborn; Thomas Stuckey is president, Northwest State Community College.

I don’t know anything about Janosky or Stuckey, but I know enough about Lloyd Jacobs’s time as President of the University of Toledo to be very surprised that he would be the lead author of an article with such a title. Without beating a dead horse, Jacobs seemed to represent some of the worst possibilities in the corporatization of the university, regularly dismissing academic freedom and shared governance in favor of administrative fiat and privilege…

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APSCUF Contract Impasse Continues

ACADEME BLOG

Writing for the Reading Eagle, David Mekeel reports that Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), the union representing the faculty of the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), has made little progress in its continuing efforts to negotiate a new contract. The previous contract expired more than a year ago on June 30, 2015, and “although negotiations have been ongoing—18 sessions have been held so far, with more slated for Thursday and Friday—the sides appear to still be miles apart.”

Mekeel divides the body of the article into three parts, covering the faculty perspective, the administrative perspective, and the students perspective.

On the faculty side, he highlights the following:

“After 15 months of negotiation, the system finally produced a new proposal. But Mash said it included more than 200 changes to the union’s current contract.

“Mash said the union didn’t feel…

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Vox’s Links to Stories on Today’s NLRB Ruling

ACADEME BLOG

What follows is taken from Vox’s daily newsletter Sentences:

“Student Union” Gets a Whole New Meaning

–The National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that graduate students at private universities have the right to form unions and bargain collectively. [Vox / Libby Nelson]

–The decision doesn’t affect grad students at public universities. Those grad students are public employees of their states (and therefore governed by state laws about public sector unions). [WSJ / Melanie Trottman]

–This is the third time in 16 years the NLRB has ruled on this question: It ruled in favor of graduate students in 2000 (with board members appointed by Bill Clinton), then against them in 2004 (after board appointments from George W. Bush). [Bloomberg / Josh Eidelson]

–At its core, the question is whether graduate students who work for the university (as teaching or research assistants, for example) are students or workers…

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The Economic Impact of Universities

ACADEME BLOG

Anna Valero and John Van Reenen, both of the London School of Economics, have published one of the first studies to examine the impact of universities on national and regional growth, both within nations and across national borders.

This is the abstract of their paper: “We develop a new dataset using UNESCO source materials on the location of nearly 15,000 universities in about 1,500 regions across 78 countries, some dating back to the 11th Century. We estimate fixed effects models at the sub-national level between 1950 and 2010 and find that increases in the number of universities are positively associated with future growth of GDP per capita (and this relationship is robust to controlling for a host of observables, as well as unobserved regional trends). Our estimates imply that doubling the number of universities per capita is associated with 4% higher future GDP per capita. Furthermore, there appear to be…

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Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015: United Kingdom, Part 2 [Post 11 of a Series]

ACADEME BLOG

In terms of its impact on higher education, a major feature of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act was to be “an outright ban on extremist speakers, including non-violent extremists, . . . on university campuses” (Travis). Home Secretary Theresa May proposed that such a ban be “backed by contempt of court powers in reserve for any university vice-chancellor that refused to implement the ban” (Travis). But the House of Lords “insisted that universities’ academic freedom and duty to freedom of speech be given equal legal weight to the new duty to prevent staff and students being drawn into terrorism, leading to [a] compromise solution” (Travis). John Hayes, the Security Minister, said: “The new Prevent duty is about protecting people from the poisonous and pernicious influence of extremist ideas that are used to legitimise terrorism. The issue of how universities and colleges balance the Prevent duty with the importance of academic…

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UC Spending on “Athletics Arms Race” Is Irresponsible

ACADEME BLOG

This is an op-ed written by Ron Jones and John McNay and published on the August 13, 2016 on the Cincinnati Inquirer website [http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/08/13/uc-spending-athletic-arms-race-irresponsible/88584650/].

Ron Jones is a librarian in the University of Cincinnati College of Law and president of the UC chapter of the American Association of University Professors. John McNay is a history professor at UC Blue Ash College and president of the Ohio Conference, AAUP.

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“Athletics can be a fun part of the college experience for students. The faculty enjoy watching sporting events and supporting student athletes as much as anyone, but at some point you have to ask at what cost?

“After factoring in ticket sales, sponsorships, advertising and all other sources of revenue, UC’s athletic program loses more than $20 million per year. This $20 million deficit is covered by taking $20 million from the academic side of UC. This money–generated from tuition, student fees and…

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Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015: United Kingdom, Part 1 [Post 10 of a Series]

ACADEME BLOG

In February, the Guardian included a piece on the results of study of freedom of speech on British campuses conducted by the online magazine Spiked:

“80% of universities are shown, as a result of their official policies and actions, to have either restricted or actively censored free speech and expression on campus beyond the requirements of the law. Spiked‘s first ever Free Speech University Rankings–which were overseen by Professor Dennis Hayes, head of the centre for educational research at Derby University and Dr. Joanna Williams, senior lecturer in higher education at Kent University–show each university administration and students’ union graded green, amber or red based on an assessment of their policies and actions. Institutions have been given an overall ranking based on the two combined.

“The research paints a picture of students keen to discourage racism but sometimes with almost comic effect. Birmingham university’s student union has banned…

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A Horrible Illustration of the Expression “Déjà vu All Over Again”

ACADEME BLOG

These two cases are not exactly alike, but they are enough alike that one would think that the outrage over the second case would be much more heightened, rather than so much more muted, than that provoked by the first case.

This is from an article by Lizzie Crocker for the Daily Beast:

“This week, news that a former University of Colorado student will not spend time in prison despite being convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman seemed to echo the Brock Turner case at Stanford.

“On the surface, it seemed like another white, privileged college kid with an all-American name had gotten off easy: convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, Turner was sentenced to six months in jail.

“The Turner case dominated the news cycle in early June, particularly after the victim’s powerful, graphic impact statement—originally published in BuzzFeed after Turner’s sentencing—went viral. CNN’s Ashleigh…

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