Month: June 2016

Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015 [Post 9 of a Series]

ACADEME BLOG

New Zealand

In New Zealand, Jarrod Gilbert, a sociologist at the University of Canterbury, claimed that he was “being muzzled by the police” (Bootham). Gilbert said police asked researchers “to sign contracts when they released data, and a standard clause gave them the right to veto any findings being published” and that “he had been blacklisted by the police because he had talked to gang members” (Bootham): “’The police are wielding a very big stick here in order to muzzle or restrict academic freedom and inquiry and of course limit free speech, it is extraordinary’” (Bootham).

Sandra Grey, the national president of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU), which represents university faculty, issued a lengthy statement on the case and its broader implications: “’Most external research contracts actually do have some sort of clause about [by] who and how the information will be released, but your scientists have talked about…

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Mismanagement and No Meaningful Oversight [Item 3]

ACADEME BLOG

In the initial item in this series, I mentioned that my statement to the Wright State Board of Trustees was preceded by two open letters to the bargaining unit faculty represented by our AAUP chapter at Wright State, letters which were then also posted to the faculty and staff listserves and to our social media accounts, as well as being distributed to local media. Although my signature appears on the letters, they were a group effort of our executive committee.

This is the second of those two open letters to President Hopkins and the Board of Trustees, originally published on April 15:

Recommendations from AAUP on Budget Reductions

Although the president and provost made the case that a budget deficit needs to be addressed, they have not been very clear on the size of the deficit nor have they acknowledged any internal causes of the deficit. Instead, they have simply…

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Athletics—Because “We Need to Do Something”

ACADEME BLOG

Writing for CapCon: Michigan Capital Confidential, Tom Gantert reports that Bay de Noc College on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has announced that it will be initiating an athletics program despite—or, rather, because of—a budget deficit that has not been resolved despite layoffs of two faculty and nine staff.

The college “will add men’s and women’s cross-country in the fall of 2017, and then men’s and women’s basketball in the winter.”

College President Laura Coleman responded to very vocal criticism of the plan by stating, “’We need to do something.’”

Gantert quotes Bill Milligan, a faculty member in the English department: “’We’ve essentially laid off one of the brightest instructors ever employed by Bay and hired an athletic director instead. Enough said about the priorities at Bay right now.’”

The enrollment at the school has declined since the Great Recession: “After peaking at 3,215 in 2010-11 enrollment has dropped every year…

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Mismanagement and No Meaningful Oversight [Item 2]

ACADEME BLOG

In the initial item in this series, I mentioned that my statement to the Wright State Board of Trustees was preceded by two open letters to the bargaining unit faculty represented by our AAUP chapter at Wright State, letters which were then also posted to the faculty and staff listserves and to our social media accounts, as well as being distributed to local media. Although my signature appears on the letters, they were a group effort of our executive committee.

This is the first of those two open letters to President Hopkins and the Board of Trustees, originally published on April 11:

In light of what has been happening at our University, the weekly e-mails we receive from President Hopkins paint a picture that bears little resemblance to reality. The former Provost has been on paid leave for nearly a year. Now we are told there is a major budget…

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APSCUF to Consider Strike Vote

ACADEME BLOG

With contract talks stalled, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, which represents more than 6,000 faculty members at Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities, has scheduled an emergency legislative assembly in August to determine whether a strike authorization vote will be taken by its members. The faculty have been working without a new contract since the last agreement expired in June 2015. The union represents faculty and coaches at Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester universities.

The major issues are proposed increases in employee healthcare contributions, elimination of heathcare coverage for future retirees, and increased courseloads for non-tenure-eligible faculty. Salary proposals have not even been put on the table.

According to the Harrisburg Times-Leader, “Union officials said the state system is proposing 249 contract changes, so many that ‘it all just collectively seems like noise,’”…

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Call for Papers: Radical Teacher

ACADEME BLOG

That universities have both followed the script of neoliberalism and helped write that script is no news to academic workers, to readers of Radical Teacher in particular.  The corporatizing of higher education has ripped apart many conventions and structures of the postwar university:  the professional self-organization of those who teach; their relative independence from administrative control; job security and decent pay; the tenure track; academic freedom; shared governance; universal access to college education; low tuition and debt load for students; face-to-face classroom relations; student engagement in the substance and practices of learning; the premise that higher education is a public good, to be funded accordingly.   Much research has responded to these and related historical disruptions; scholars and activists are tentatively mapping a field now often called “Critical University Studies.”

Radical Teacher began in a volcano of critical, activist thought about the “coopted” university, open admissions, the politics of teaching, and…

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AAUP-UC Says No to 50% Increase in Healthcare Costs

ACADEME BLOG

The following message was sent to AAUP members at the University of Cincinnati late last week. (I have omitted links for RSVPs and the full contract proposals.)

Dear AAUP Member,

As you know, President Santa Ono is leaving UC. I wish him well in his next endeavor. President Ono did many good things for the University. His consistent pledge to invest in people was appreciated, although words did not always match deeds during his tenure.

It is unclear how President Ono’s departure will affect ongoing contract negotiations.

What we do know is that that the Administration’s latest economic proposals—increases in health insurance costs of 50% or more for most faculty and minimal increases in salary–demonstrates a deep contempt for the Faculty.

We also know that in the past reckless members of the Board of Trustees have tried exploit a perceived leadership void to undercut the Faculty’s position.

We need to…

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Waste, Job Creation, and Higher Ed

ACADEME BLOG

The following paragraphs are from an article written by Sharon Dell for University World NewsGlobal Edition, “South Africa: Universities of Technology Eye Rich Prospects in Waste”:

“South African universities of technology are positioning themselves as critical partners in what is considered a fairly new but highly relevant area of research, innovation and job creation: waste recycling and management, an industry conservatively estimated by the government to be worth R25 billion (US$1.6 billion) per annum. South African universities of technology are positioning themselves as critical partners in what is considered a fairly new but highly relevant area of research, innovation and job creation: waste recycling and management, an industry conservatively estimated by the government to be worth R25 billion (US$1.6 billion) per annum.

“A memorandum of understanding is set to be signed between the South African Technology Network or SATN, the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Technology Innovation…

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COCAL Updates

ACADEME BLOG

COCAL is the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a nearly 20 year old network of contingent activists and their organizations that does a conference (now tri-national – USA, CAN (including QBC) , and  MEX) every other year, usually in August. It also sponsors a listserv, called ADJ-L, and has an International Advisory Committee and a website www.cocalinternational.org and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/COCALInternational>.

These updates are compiled and distributed weekly by Joe Berry and are reprinted here with his permission. These are the updates from June 11, 2016.

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Editor’s NOTE:
Please join me in mourning the death of one of my heroes, boxing world champion Muhammed Ali, at 74 of Parkinson’s. Though “adopted” by the mainstream establishment in  recent years, for many people he always represented the ultimate personal courage, self sacrifice, generosity, resistance, and militancy in his refusal to fight in Viet Nam and his support for all struggles…

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Major Court Decision on Net Neutrality

ACADEME BLOG

The following paragraphs are from “The Net Neutrality Court Decision in Plain English,” written by Brian Fung for the Washington Post:

“Some debates are so important to the healthy function of the Internet that they’re worth learning about in depth, and in the process grasping their implications for free speech, online commerce, educational opportunity and all the reasons that make the Internet worth using in the first place.

“One of those debates reached a key turning point Tuesday, when a federal appeals court said that the Internet is basically like a giant telephone network and that the companies that provide it, such as Comcast and Verizon, must offer essentially the same protections to Internet users that the government has required of phone companies for decades. . . .

“In a nutshell, they’re aimed at making sure the Internet stays an open platform and that cable and telecom companies can’t use their position in the marketplace to unfairly benefit themselves…

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