More and more colleges and universities are hiking their minimum wage above what’s required by their states and the federal government.
The increases — often motivated by concerns about equitable pay for all employees, changes in local ordinances or pressure from advocates for low-wage worker — can cost millions. Yet many colleges that that are raising pay say they have an obligation to do so.
“We are a higher-minded part of the economy, and you would expect that we would be among the first to be doing the right things for our employees,” said Charles Dougherty, president of Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh. Earlier this year Duquesne raised its minimum wage to $16 an hour — more than double what’s required by state and federal law.
Pennsylvania is among the 24 states where the minimum wage is set at federal levels: $7.25 an hour. Yet some of private and public colleges in those states and others are choosing to offer a higher minimum wage than required.
The cost of living has increased about 10 percent since 2009, the last time the federal minimum wage was adjusted, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor. A person earning the federal minimum wage would have an annual income of just $15,000, and advocacy groups have been popping up across the country seeking a higher minimum wage.
At Duquesne, the decision to offer double the minimum wage has been years in the making. In 2010, the university was offering a minimum wage of $12 an hour.
“We began to think that it simply wasn’t fair to our lowest paid universities,” Dougherty said. “We are a Catholic university so part of what motivates us in a sense of responsibility to the people at the lower end of our payroll.”
Yet many of the institutions that increase their minimum wage aren’t religious. And several are public.
Duke University has 3,600 employees, and offers the roughly 400 workers who earn minimum wage $12 an hour, two-thirds more than the university is required by law in North Carolina. Before the hike, approved earlier this year, the institution’s lowest wage was $10.91 and hour, still higher than state mandates.
Last year Indiana University raised its minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, a dollar above the minimum wage required by state and federal laws, and this year the institution raised it again to $9 an hour.
“We didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether or not it was mandated,” said MaryFrancis McCourt, IU’s chief financial officer. “We were trying to think about what is the right thing to do for employees.”
Yet McCourt acknowledged the financial impact of the wage increase is significant. “It’s not a minor amount of money,” she explained. So far, the hikes have cost IU about $2.5 million, including $1 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015.
“These decisions were made during a time when the pressure on the top line is tougher than ever,” McCourt explained.
“There’s a strong focus on keeping costs down, nonetheless you want to do the right thing,” she continued. “If you’re looking to hold tuition flat, there’s a myriad of ways you can look to hold costs. It’s easy not to think of employees, but we didn’t even let ourselves go there.”
At Duquesne, 170 of the university’s 2,300 employees were affected by the wage increase, at an annual cost of $500,000 to the institution, which has an annual operating budget of more than $300 million. Duke declined to disclose the financial impact of its minimum wage hike, but an official there did say the cost was not “enormously substantial.”
As more states and cities consider hiking their minimum wage, universities can find themselves in the midst an often passionate debate. When municipalities increase their minimum wage, private institutions must comply with the new laws.
But mandated increases have put public institutions in a tough spot. In many cases, public institutions have claimed that, because they’re autonomous entities or have constitutional protections, they don’t have to comply with municipal minimum wage laws.
Yet they’re often under enormous pressure to do so.
A handful of municipalities in California have increased their minimum wage in recent years — Los Angeles, for example, passed a law this year that will eventually increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour — but California’s colleges don’t have to comply. That’s because, as a state agency, California’s public universities are only required to pay the state minimum wage of $9 an hour.
Seattle passed a law this year that increases the minimum wage to $11 an hour. The law gives large employers three years to bring their minimum wage up to $15 an hour. The state’s minimum wage is $9.47 an hour.
The University of Washington, considered a large employer, is complying with the law, even though its lawyers believe the public institution is exempt from the mandate.
“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s not necessarily the easy thing,” said UW’s interim president, Ana Mari Cauce.
Cauce says that if UW raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour tomorrow, it would cost the institution a lump sum of $25 million. The cost may end up being less than that, given that employees would have received pay increases over the next three years anyway. Or it may be more: “One of the things we’re still grappling with is what this does in terms of compression of the salaries that are above” minimum wage, Cauce explained.
To cope with the annual operating increase, UW is already looking at cost saving measures. Administrators are considering back office and administrative efficiencies, and possible savings through attrition. The annual operating loss will need to be accounted for: “It’s not like it’s happening and manna is going to fall from heaven,” Cauce said.
“Seattle is an expensive city. Puget Sound is an expensive region. We certainly want our employees to make a living wage,” she continued. “It’s also going to be a struggle…. We’re going to need to really think differently on how we can get things done without it causing higher tuition for students, because that’s not the way we want to go.”
As they decide to increase minimum wages, institutions have different philosophies on student workers.
At Duke, student workers are excluded from the wage increase. Kyle Cavanaugh, Duke’s vice president for administration, says that’s because Duke bases its wages off of the market conditions in the Durham area and in higher education. Students, he said, usually aren’t supporting themselves or their families.
At Indiana and Washington, student workers earn the same minimum wage as staff.
Washington’s minimum wage increase to $11 an hour this year affected far more students than staff. Roughly 70 staff saw their wages increase under the new minimum wage. Meanwhile, more than 2,600 students received wage increases. As the university continues raising its minimum wage, it expects more and more employees to be affected.
“When we think about student affordability, that’s helping,” said McCourt, of Indiana. “For a university to say we’re bringing [the minimum wage up], but it doesn’t apply to students, they’re cutting a huge piece off the table.”
Unsurprisingly, minimum wage hikes have been popular at the universities instituting them. It’s at least one change in an era of many changes that administrators consistently receive positive feedback on.
“We’ve had uniform support,” offered Cavanaugh, the Duke administrator.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Nearly three-quarters of academics in the Republic of Ireland say that working conditions have deteriorated in the wake of mass job cuts and rising student numbers, a study has found.
Higher education funding shrank by 29 percent between 2007 and 2014, but student numbers have risen by 16 percent over the same period, according to the report, Creating a Supportive Working Environment for Academics in Higher Education.
Since 2007, staffing levels have been reduced by 17 percent, or 3,500 posts. Academics report growing levels of stress caused by excessive teaching loads, says the study, commissioned by Ireland’s two teaching trade unions.
Seventy-two per cent of almost 1,200 university staff surveyed for the report – about 1 in 20 Irish academics – say that conditions are worse than in 2007 when Ireland was plunged into a financial crisis and public expenditure was cut by €7.8 billion ($8.6 billion) a year.
“We have a lot more students and we have a lot fewer staff and so we have … [a] much higher teaching workload and much higher administration workloads,” says one academic interviewed for the study.
Another said that the “camaraderie that used to be among staff is gone because everyone is frantically trying to catch up.”
Teaching is also more difficult because the extra students recruited, especially those from overseas, had poorer basic skills and lower language abilities, academics also say.
“There is a lot of willingness from management to allow students to progress to the next year in a way they may not have in the past,” says one polytechnic employee. “We have brought students in from outside Europe who cannot speak English and basically staff are being told [to] pass them,” says another, adding that it is now “all about the money”.
Launching the report, John Walshe, former adviser to ex-education minister Ruairi Quinn, said that higher education had been hit harder than other parts of the public sector, where headcount was cut by only 10 percent. The study calls for “significantly increased and sustained levels of investment to meet growing student demand.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Jake New
Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, suggested last week that she was in favor of “removing” the Clery Act, the law that requires colleges to provide and publicize information about campus crimes.
While McCaskill — who has promoted legislation that would toughen oversight of colleges on sexual assault — has long been critical of the Clery Act, her statements last week were especially condemnatory. The comments, which came during McCaskill’s keynote address at last week’s Campus Safety National Forum, elicited cheers from campus law enforcement officials and concern from campus safety groups.
“I don’t need to tell you it’s flawed,” McCaskill said to the gathering of college security officials on Thursday. “To be honest with you, I am OK with removing the Clery Act completely.”
Adding that the Clery Act accomplishes little besides being “a waste of time pushing paper” for campus safety officials, McCaskill said she would ultimately like to see the law replaced with something that would provide a clearer picture of what crimes are taking place on campuses. “My goal is to remove [the Clery Act,],” she added. “Or at a minimum, simplify it.”
The Clery Act requires colleges to annually disclose the number of particular types of crimes on campus and to provide timely warnings to students about ongoing criminal activity, such as an active shooter or a recent sexual assault. But critics like McCaskill, including many campus administrators, say Clery statistics do not accurately illustrate the prevalence of campus crime, as increases in the number of a particular crime may have as much to do with improved reporting techniques as an actual uptick in criminal activity.
McCaskill and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, have sought to alter the Clery Act, as well as other facets of how sexual assault is handled on campuses, with a bill called the Campus and Accountability and Safety Act. The law would require campuses to conduct annual climate surveys regarding gender violence and sexual misconduct.
That legislation has not yet been voted on, but some amendments to the Clery Act did go into effect on Wednesday as part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Colleges are now required to disclose reports of stalking and domestic violence.
The Clery Act does not have many fans among campus law enforcement officials, and McCaskill’s comments drew applause from the crowd at the Campus Safety National Forum on Thursday. A similar reaction was seen this week at the annual meeting of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators in Nashville.
During a presentation about the role of the Clery Act and Title IX in sex crime investigations, Susan Riseling, chief of police and associate vice chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said the Clery Act was a “cluster.”
Riseling said McCaskill would like to see the Clery Act repealed or at least stripped down to simply requiring colleges to provide timely information and warnings about ongoing crimes.
“That information is what might prevent someone else from becoming a victim, and timely warnings are really the point of Clery,” Riseling said. “Some of the best news I’ve heard was Sen. McCaskill saying ‘maybe we’d better throw out Clery.’ ”
The room of more than 100 college law enforcement administrators in Nashville broke out in applause.
In an open letter to McCaskill, the Clery Center for Security on Campus said it was “disappointed” by the senator’s comments. In the letter, the center listed a number of positive scenarios that are now possible thanks to the Clery Act, including students receiving text messages about active shooters and parents easily learning online about safety and security issues at a particular campus.
McCaskill made use of Clery data in her 2014 report on campus sexual violence, the center noted.
“The Clery Act was shepherded into existence by Connie and Howard Clery — two parents who lost their only daughter, Jeanne, when she was raped and murdered in her residence hall in 1986,” the Clery Center stated. “They turned incomprehensible grief into incredible change in the effort to ensure no other family would experience such loss. It’s more than just paper work. It is meaningful policies that drive powerful action.”
On Wednesday, McCaskill’s office sought to clarify the senator’s comments.
“Claire’s criticism of Clery was specifically about its reporting requirements, which virtually everyone agrees are burdensome and need updating,” Sarah Feldman, a spokeswoman for McCaskill, said. “She fully supports retaining many of the law’s other provisions, but would like to see crime statistic reporting simplified, along with the campus climate surveys her legislation requires.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
- Paul Blake, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at Ferris State University, in Michigan, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
- David Bogen, vice president academic and provost at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in British Columbia, has been selected as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Maryland Institute College of Art.
- Linda Buchanan, vice president and dean for student life at Iowa Wesleyan College, has been named president of Andrew College, in Georgia.
- Darrell P. Kruger, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of New Orleans, in Louisiana, has been chosen provost and executive vice chancellor at Appalachian State University, in North Carolina.
- Patrick G. Maggitti, Helen and William O’Toole Dean of the Villanova School of Business at Villanova University, in Pennsylvania, has been promoted to provost there.
- Joseph R. Marbach, provost and vice president for academic affairs at La Salle University, in Pennsylvania, has been chosen as president of Georgian Court College, in New Jersey.
- Karine Swensen Moe, the F.R. Bigelow Professor of Economics at Macalester College, in Minnesota, has been promoted to provost and dean of the faculty there.
- Gerald Napoles, senior vice president of student and organizational success at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, has been named president of Lone Star College-North Harris, in Texas.
- Dennis Rittle, provost and executive vice president of learning at Ozarka College, in Arkansas, has been selected as president of Cowley College, in Kansas.
- Jean Shankweiler, dean of the natural sciences division at El Camino College, in California, has been promoted to vice president of academic affairs there.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Paul Fain
The messy dismantling of Corinthian Colleges is moving through a federal bankruptcy court, as a judge mulls whether to halt loan repayments for up to 350,000 former students and the defunct for-profit chain seeks the court’s approval for the fire sale of its remaining assets – including trademarks, furniture and even old diplomas and typewriters.
Last month the U.S. Department of Education released a plan for Corinthian students to seek to have their debt erased.
As a result, the roughly 15,000 students who in the last year attended the 28 Corinthian campuses that shut down in April are eligible under the department’s closed-school loan discharge policy. ECMC, a nonprofit student loan guarantor, purchased most of the rest of Corinthian, creating the new Zenith Education Group to run it.
And, in an unprecedented action, the feds also said students who feel they were defrauded by their Corinthian campus, or that their campus broke state laws, can apply for debt forgiveness.
That means large numbers of the 350,000 students who took out loans to attend a Corinthian institution during the last five years could be eligible for some form of debt relief.
However, last week the department said it had received only 4,500 applications for closed-school discharges, 1,400 borrower-defense claims and 850 online requests for the government to halt debt collection.
Students have until July 20 to file those claims. The department last week announced that it had hired Joseph A. Smith, a high-profile mortgage settlement claim veteran, to oversee the debt-forgiveness process. And the department has created a web page with information for former Corinthian students who may be eligible.
In the meantime, a group of former Corinthian students has asked the bankruptcy court to temporarily suspend the collection of all 350,000 students’ debt payments until the court can decide who is responsible for repaying them. The U.S. Department of Justice selected the group of seven former students to represent the interests of all Corinthian students.
In a hearing Tuesday, the federal bankruptcy court judge, Kevin Carey (not the Kevin Carey at New America), did not grant that freeze on repayments. But he did chide the department for not doing more to get the word out about its debt-forgiveness process.
“I’m not convinced that notice has been sufficient or broad enough to put people in a position to ask for it,” Carey said, according to a report by Reuters. He asked the department’s lawyers to find a better way of reaching Corinthian students.
The Education Department is using its records to identify borrowers who may be eligible for debt relief, said a department spokeswoman. “We plan to contact those borrowers to make them aware of their options through multiple channels, including email and regular mail,” she said via email. “We are also looking into other options, like advertising. We welcome the help of stakeholders and advocacy groups to help us get the word out.”
Ben Miller is senior director of the postsecondary education program at the Center for American Progress. He previously worked at New America and at the Education Department.
Miller asked why the feds wouldn’t temporarily halt collection proceedings on defaulted loans by Corinthian students while some of those former students work on their defense-against-repayment petitions and the special master locks in the debt-relief process.
“If they might get them discharged, why not pause efforts for defaulted loans for a few months just to work out the details?” he said via email. And if those students aren’t eligible for a discharge, “then all you’ve lost is a couple of months of collection efforts. It’s not like the obligation is gone.”
Furnishings For Sale
The Obama administration’s Corinthian debt forgiveness plan was unveiled after months of prodding by Senate Democrats and consumer groups, who argued that students were hoodwinked into taking out loans to attend a fundamentally fraudulent operation.
The process may soon apply to students from other for-profits, too.
Arne Duncan, the education secretary, said recently that Corinthian “will not be the last domino to fall” in the for-profit education industry. “This is our first major action on this but obviously it won’t be the last,” he said.
As a result, the department sought to create a special-master-led process that is “durable, not just for Corinthian but beyond,” said Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell.
Yet the department stopped short of allowing Corinthian students to seek to have their debt erased as part of a group action, rather than applying individually. Consumer groups, Senate Democrats and former Corinthian students who went on “strike” to stop paying their loans had pushed for the group option.
Even so, the department already has decided that roughly 40,000 former students of Corinthian’s Heald College are eligible to file borrower defense appeals. That’s because the feds determined that Heald deceived students with nearly 1,000 instances of misleading job placement claims. The department slapped a $30 million fine on Corinthian based on those findings.
The company, or the lawyers that represent what’s left of it, don’t have that money. But the federal government would be on the hook for $544 million if all of those students applied.
The 12 Heald campuses, all of which are on the West Coast or in Hawaii, were considered Corinthian’s crown jewels prior to the chain’s collapse last year.
Now Corinthian is seeking to sell its Heald campuses and other assets. A K-12 charter school outside Sacramento will buy one of the campuses, the Sacramento Business Journal reported.
Heald is also selling its trademarks, copyrights and domain numbers as part of the bankruptcy court’s Chapter 11 process. For sale is its trademark: “Get In. Get out. Get ahead.” So is the www.HealdCollege.com domain, as well as “historical” items from the 150-year-old institution, including old diplomas and typewriters.
Assets from the for-profit chain’s other brands — Everest and WyoTech — are also for sale. Earlier this week, Corinthian filed a notice in court of its proposed sale of “any and all furnishings, fixtures and equipment” from the former Everest Institute College located in Cross Lanes, West Virginia.
An outfit called Liquid Asset Partners is the purchaser, according to the filing. The price: $45,000.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
The University of Memphis has been mostly silent in the last month as conservative bloggers and publications have criticized Zandria Robinson, until recently an assistant professor of sociology at the university.
But on Tuesday afternoon, the university posted an 11-word comment on Twitter: “Zandria Robinson is no longer employed by the University of Memphis.” The university declined to say anything more, such as whether she had been fired and, if so, why.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Robinson’s defenders took to social media to denounce her apparent firing. After a few hours, Robinson shared a post with some friends saying that she had not been fired, but had accepted a job elsewhere a few weeks ago. Faculty members at Memphis confirmed this.
But while Robinson has found a new employer, she has become a new cause in a culture war going on about the online comments of black women in academe, and specifically in sociology. To conservative critics, the issue is statements that they consider outlandish and racist (specifically, anti-white). To many sociologists, of a variety of races and ethnicities, black women who challenge white dominance are having their words and ideas taken out of context, are being flooded with hateful email — and are at risk of having their careers disrupted.
Robinson’s case is being compared to that of Saida Grundy, a new assistant professor of sociology at Boston University who was widely criticized in May for comments on Twitter in which she said, among other things, “Why is white America so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?” She expressed regret over her choice of words, but the university’s president criticized her language before she had even moved to Boston. Many sociologists saw nothing wrong with anything Grundy said.
There have been two waves of criticism of Robinson. In early June, the website Campus Reform pulled comments from her social media accounts (all since made private) in which she wrote critically of how white students in college view black students’ chances of getting into graduate school. “It is graduate school application season again and it has come to my attention — again — that some white students believe that students of color will simply get into graduate programs because they are racial or ethnic minorities,” Robinson wrote. She called this view a “lie.”
She said, “Students of color applying to graduate schools are always already exceptional because of the various structural hurdles they leapt to get out of college, take the GRE and apply, etc.” She added that white students aren’t exceptional for applying to graduate school “because they have white privilege.” She said she would not tolerate white students who are “perpetuating these racist lies again. Not even in your head.”
Peter Hasson, the author of the Campus Reform post, went on Twitter and asked M. David Rudd, the university’s president, what he was going to do about a professor who in Hasson’s view was expressing views that discriminate against white people. Rudd replied via Twitter: “I appreciate you forwarding this to my attention. I have forwarded to our EEO office to investigate IAW U of M policies.”
Then there was a new wave of criticism in the last few days over Twitter comments Robinson made related to the dispute over the Confederate flag. Two quotes highlighted by The Daily Caller: “The Confederate flag is more than a symbol of white racial superiority. It is the ultimate symbol of white heteropatriarchal capitalism” and “White folks think that if they are nice to you they are above a critique of whiteness, white supremacy or structural racism.”
And then as these quotes were spreading, along with calls on Twitter for her dismissal, the notice appeared on the University of Memphis Twitter account.
That prompted many online to assume she had been fired and to criticize such an action for someone participating in an intense national debate about race in the wake of the Charleston murders. After a few hours, word spread that she hadn’t been fired.
But does the furor say something?
Eric Anthony Grollman, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Richmond, runs the blog Conditionally Accepted, which he calls “a space for scholars on the margins of academia.”
Via email, he shared his reactions: “I find University of Memphis’s ambiguous tweet troubling. If it was vague by intent, I have to wonder what message was being sent. Was this a hint that the conservative journalists who are now attacking Robinson for the second time had succeeded in having her removed from her position? That they were successful in silencing her in the public and within the academy? That, with the right amount of conservative news coverage, universities cave and no longer protect our free speech? If it was unintentional, I still question why a private personnel matter was discussed on Twitter. This seems sloppy and unprofessional, at best.”
Grollman added: “I am disappointed that we are so accustomed to attacks on public scholars these days — especially women of color — that we readily assumed the worst when news broke that she is no longer at Memphis.”
Robinson did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. But she did respond to an email request for comment in early June, when she was first being criticized for her comments on Twitter.
She said then: “This is clearly an attack on academic freedom and moreover part of a larger coordinated attack against young women of color, who are amongst the most vulnerable everywhere, the academy included. Whether it’s a Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction or random, innocuous tweets, black women are harassed and strung up to be made examples of in our society. Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, our institutions often allow this; they cannot protect us from attacks in our own departments or universities, so expecting them to defend us unequivocally from outside hate groups is naïve. Inside attacks push black women out of the academy just like those from the outside…. It’s time for institutions to be courageous and do the things that our society has repeatedly failed to do: protect black women and the freedom of people of color to be critical of injustice.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to consider a case that could effectively make union membership dues optional for public employees. The vast majority of faculty members who are represented by unions are in public higher education, and such a shift could be devastating to the financing of their unions.
Currently the norm for faculty unions is that if they win a vote to represent a bargaining unit, all members of that unit must pay for the costs of collective bargaining in the form of dues. Members of a unit who object to political stances of a union may get a refund for those expenses, but are still required to pay what is known as a “fair share” of union costs that are related to bargaining and representation. That requirement could go away, depending on how the Supreme Court rules.
“If the Supreme Court rules that ‘fair share’ violates the First Amendment rights of public employees, they would transform the entire public sector into right to work, more appropriately named ‘right to freeload,’” said Rudy Fichtenbaum, a professor of economics at Wright State University and national president of the American Association of University Professors, which acts as a union on some of the campuses where it has chapters (but not at others).
The case accepted by the Supreme Court is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which was brought by high school teachers who believe that they should not have to pay the “agency fee” for being represented by a union. They argue that unions engage in activities that inherently are forms of speech, and that employees should not be required to pay the unions anything. Such requirements compel the teachers to support activities with which they disagree and thus violate their First Amendment rights, the teachers say. The legal theory they have put forward has been one that many conservative legal groups have embraced, hoping for a case like this.
Since 1977, when the Supreme Court found that there was a right for unions to charge an agency fee, the legal right to do so has been clear. The new case explicitly asks the Supreme Court to reverse the 1977 ruling.
While union leaders believe that they provide valuable services for their members and win them better contracts, many predict that some unknown but potentially significant number of union members would simply opt not to pay any membership dues. Federal labor law requires the unions to represent the interests of all employees in a bargaining unit, so a union would remain bound to, for example, handle a grievance of or provide advice to a faculty member who paid nothing.
Dues vary from campus to campus and union to union. Fichtenbaum said that most AAUP collective bargaining dues are from 0.7 to 1.2 percent of salary.
Frederick E. Kowal, president of United University Professions, the faculty union at the State University of New York, said that dues there are about 1 percent of salary. His union is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
He said the lawsuit was “an insidious way to bankrupt unions.”
Union supporters note that the organizations are elected to represent employees, and that employees have the right in elections to vote out the leaders if they don’t like the way the union is being run and can even vote to end collective bargaining. So they argue that there are many options for those who may disagree with a union’s position or strategy.
William A. Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York, said he saw the case as extremely significant for faculty unions. But he stressed that many unions have strong ties to members and with additional outreach could encourage many members to continue to pay dues. This shift “could rekindle internal organizing,” he said.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
The more students who witness cyberbullying in an online setting — for example, in an online course — the less likely those students are to take a stand against it, a new study suggests.
The report, published in this quarter’s edition of Communication Monographs, explores how witnesses choose to act — or not act — in response to cyberbullying. Its findings suggest college students’ ability to intervene in cyberbullying changes depending on the number of other students witnessing the bullying, their perception of their own anonymity and how close they feel to the victim, among other factors.
While the study doesn’t focus specifically on cyberbullying in online education, author Nicholas Brody, assistant professor of communication at the University of Puget Sound, acknowledged in an interview that many of the findings apply to that setting.
In particular, Brody said, the findings suggest cyberbullying may be more likely to occur in massive open online courses and other settings where large numbers of students who don’t know one another outside of class gather.
Examples of that kind of behavior can be seen in cases such as a MOOC offered last year by the University of Copenhagen, where a plan to let students self-moderate quickly devolved into forum bans and stricter moderation. And outside of instruction, colleges routinely struggle to curb abusive behavior on anonymous websites and apps such as Yik Yak.
“Once online identity is disconnected from offline identity, it can sometimes lead to antisocial online communication,” Brody said. “When witnesses perceive themselves as not visible, they lessen their sense of personal responsibility for taking action and helping.”
Brody and his co-author, Anita L. Vangelisti, Jesse H. Jones Centennial Professor of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, conducted two studies to examine how the bystander effect, a phenomenon that explains why individuals sometimes fail to help others in the presence of a crowd, manifests itself online.
In the first study, which involved 265 undergraduate students enrolled in a communication course at a large university in the Southwest, Brody and Vangelisti asked students to explain in detail a recent cyberbullying episode they witnessed on Facebook. They also prompted the students to reflect on variables such as their relationship with the victim, how many other Facebook users witnessed the bullying and whether or not they helped.
A follow-up study of 379 undergrads also enrolled in a communication course at a large Southwestern university asked students about those same variables, but used a controlled scenario. The students all read a made-up case of cyberbullying about a Facebook user whose account was hacked and used to post embarrassing pictures and status updates, however, the students were told that the user was either an “acquaintance” or a “good friend,” that he or she had more than a thousand or fewer than 200 Facebook friends, and whether students were listed as visible to the victim.
Both studies produced similar results. Students were more likely to act if the victim was a close friend, if the cyberbullying took place in a smaller group setting or if they could not hide behind the cover of anonymity.
“It comes down to friendship and closeness,” Brody said. “People are going to help out their friends. People are going to help out the people they feel closest to.”
While students may be less inclined to stand up for classmates online than in person, faculty members may feel less prepared to crack down on such behavior, Brody suggested. “Many educators feel comfortable managing those types of situations in the classroom, but how do you manage [it] in an online environment — particularly when you’re trying to manage so many students?” he said.
Brody’s comments reflect one of the main qualms many faculty members have with online education, namely that they feel online courses don’t offer students as many opportunities to interact with one another and their instructors as face-to-face courses do.
Several surveys (including one by Inside Higher Ed) has found instructors expressing concern that teaching online means they won’t be able to answer questions satisfactorily or devote extra attention to students who need more help than others.
“There is a fear that online communication in general isn’t authentic,” Brody said.
Extrapolating the findings from the two studies, Brody said faculty members can design their online courses to discourage cyberbullying by putting students in small groups and encouraging them to interact outside required group work.
“What this research ultimately is trying to figure out is how to train people to be aware of when online harassment and cyberbullying is occurring and help them understand what factors might be detrimental to their sense of responsibility for intervening,” Brody said. “Once people are aware of what those factors are, they might be more likely to help out down the road.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
After a racially motivated shooting in Charleston earlier this month left nine black people dead, a nationwide conversation about the Confederate flag began. Politicians jumped on the bandwagon, major corporations removed merchandise displaying the flag from their shelves and the topic pervaded social media and news coverage.
At the University of Texas at Austin, students are lobbying to remove a statue of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. But for some colleges, it’s not just a statue under scrutiny, but the institution — there are colleges named for people like Davis and John C. Calhoun.
The debate isn’t just in the South. New discussion of the name of Yale University’s Calhoun College — a residence hall that has housed more than 400 undergraduates annually since 1933 — has emerged since the Charleston murders. But the conversation began even before then, when an alumna published a piece on the university’s alumni magazine website in March, questioning why the name has remained on the building for so long.
Calhoun was a congressman, senator and vice president during the early 19th century, and is well known for speaking in favor of slavery, describing it once as a “positive good.” He wasn’t just one of the many members of Congress from the South who backed slavery — he was a fierce and effective advocate, widely credited with promoting a political philosophy that eventually led to secession.
“The university welcomes engagement and discussion on this important topic: the tragedy in Charleston, on top of countless preceding tragedies in our country’s history, has elevated public opinion and discourse on difficult subjects that have too long been avoided,” Karen Peart, a Yale spokeswoman, said in an email.
Jonathan Holloway, the dean of Yale College at Yale University who has served as the master of Calhoun College since 2005, has in the past defended the name, saying it was important to maintain to understand its place in history and removing it would erase Yale’s decision to name the college for Calhoun in the first place. But in a recent article in Salon, he slightly reversed his position, saying the events of the past 18 months have “rattled” him.
“Yes, the historian in me still sees with alarm our national propensity to forget ugliness for the convenience of the modern moment, but the citizen in me just keeps seeing example after example of an inability to imagine that African-Americans have a humanity that ought to be respected,” he wrote.
While the name has stirred up a debate, some have said they wouldn’t want to change the name, saying that it’s important not to gloss over one of the most contentious periods of American history.
A similar conversation took place at Clemson University earlier this year when students lobbied for one of the main buildings on campus, Tillman Hall, to be renamed. Its namesake, Benjamin Tillman, was a well-known white supremacist who often spoke in favor of lynching and other acts of violence toward black people during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Also featured on Clemson’s campus? The former home of Calhoun — converted into a museum — and the Calhoun Honors College.
A. D. Carson, a graduate student at Clemson who helped to lead the movement to rename Tillman Hall, said the conversation on campus, where roughly 83 percent of the students are white, does not tend to focus on the names because students are unaware of the namesakes and their legacies.
He said once students are aware, they’re generally surprised that such figures are honored on campus.
Cathy Sams, a spokeswoman for Clemson, said the university was built on land that once belonged to Calhoun but was passed along to the founder of the university, Thomas Green Clemson, when Clemson married Calhoun’s daughter.
“Like many universities, Clemson is connected to certain historical figures who held views or expressed opinions that conflict with our current values,” Sams said in an email. “How to reconcile the two is a topic of discussion at institutions across the country, not just at Clemson. The horrific shootings in Charleston are likely to rekindle those discussions.”
After the shootings in Charleston, Clemson officials honored the victims by placing wreaths on campus — in front of Tillman Hall, a move that has stirred up further commentary online. The university’s Instagram post of the wreaths is no longer on its account.
Carson said he encourages members of the Clemson community to refer to Tillman Hall as “Main Hall,” the former name for the building, as a way to remove the power of the name — a strategy he said would also work for Clemson’s honors college.
“It was named to honor Calhoun, so to not give it the respect and honor that was bestowed upon it because we don’t honor or respect it — if we do that, it makes it much easier over time,” he said.
Chenjerai Kumanyika, an assistant professor of communication studies at Clemson, said when people choose to honor those with racist histories by naming a hall or a monument after that person, they are not respecting history but rather honoring what some consider to be an offensive period of history.
Kumanyika said while Clemson is working on diversity on campus, including a diversity initiative, the existing large population of international graduate students can sometimes find themselves in a hostile and racist environment.
“If we had to be admitted when Calhoun were around, I probably imagine that they’d let them in but treat them as second-class citizens, that’s what would have happened,” Kumanyika said. “In a way, it’s living up to his legacy.”
The Clemson Board of Trustees also voted in support of removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House in Columbia on Monday, but refused to change the name of Tillman Hall earlier this year, even after both students and faculty voted in favor of a change.
Students at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have also lobbied officials to change the names of buildings named after white supremacists.
In Alabama, both Calhoun Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College bear the names of controversial figures, one of whom was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
William Blow, who is serving as interim president at Jefferson Davis, said he has not seen any pushback against the name during his six months at the college, nor does he recall the topic coming up during his 20-plus years working at the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, including two years as executive director.
At Calhoun Community College, President James Klauber said other aspects of Calhoun’s legacy, including his time as a senator and secretary of war, and his work in expanding the land owned by the U.S., made him worthy of having a college named after him.
“I think our students are educated and broad-minded enough to see more than one kind of sliver of a person’s life,” Klauber said.
Klauber has previously served two terms as a state representative in his native South Carolina and said it was a past vote in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds that ended his political career.
And Ernest Williams, the chair of the mathematics at Calhoun Community College and one of the sponsors of the college’s Black Student Alliance, said that even though he was raised in Selma, Ala., during the height of the civil rights movement, the meaning of the name of the college never crossed his mind while he was applying to become a faculty member.
He said students seem to be focused more on their classes than on the name, although he has confronted a few students for having items emblazoned with the Confederate flag.
He said those students explained to him that they didn’t think of the flag as a racist symbol, but rather as a part of their history — some of their relatives had fought in the Civil War.
“You have to understand that you have some historical figures in the South, whether they’re on one side or the other. A lot of that has died down — you may seem some names or signs but they mean different to different people,” Williams said. “I think now, with students coming, looking for a decent education, they spend more time concerned about passing the courses than what the school’s name is.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
The University of Texas System employs more than 15,000 faculty members. Why are they so difficult to find online?
The university system believes it has solved that problem with Influuent, a searchable database of facilities and researchers. The website, which launched last month, centralizes what used to be 15 separate sites listing the faculty experts working at the nine universities and six medical centers in the system.
Influuent (the university says the name is a combination of “influence” and “influunt,” the Latin word for “flow”) is being developed as more than just a faculty directory. For the private sector, administrators say, the database could serve as a starting point for commercial partnerships; for faculty members, a “matchmaking” site for research projects; and for journalists, a catalog of experts available to comment.
The Texas system is the most recent to reconsider how it can use websites such as Influuent to communicate the work taking place on its campuses to the world outside academe. Faculty members in the system have produced nearly 110,000 publications in the last five years alone, and with a new platform in place, system leaders see an opportunity to publicize that research and demonstrate the value of higher education.
During Rick Perry’s time as governor, the system was forced to defend itself against what some critics called a “faculty productivity gap” — that some “star” faculty members were bringing in research dollars while others were simply “coasting” along. To combat that assumption, the system will maintain a social media presence for Influuent, promoting new research on platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
“As a system office, we don’t have the day-to-day issues of running a university,” said Stephanie A. Bond Huie, vice chancellor for the Office of Strategic Initiatives. “We have an opportunity to showcase the amazing work that our faculty do.”
But Influuent is as much — if not more — about bringing resources into the university as it is about sending information out. With Congress likely to keep flat or slash funding for grant-making agencies, many universities are looking elsewhere to bolster their research budgets.
Federal funding makes up nearly half — 49.7 percent — of the roughly $2.5 billion the Texas system spends on research and development a year, Huie said. Private sector investments total less than a quarter, or about 21 percent, but the system hopes to increase that share by making it easier for faculty members and industry to connect.
“Universities are having to change the way we do business,” Huie said. “The University of Texas System said, ‘We need to put ourselves out there. We’re not going to wait for companies to come to us anymore. We’re open for business.’”
Before Influuent, individual universities and medical centers in the system were in charge of their own faculty expert websites. That decentralized approach led to fragmentation, Huie said. For example, a pharmaceutical company interested in finding researchers and a lab to test a new drug might have searched the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s website for potential partners, but in the process overlooked researchers at the Simmons Cancer Center and the UTMB Cancer Center.
A search for “cancer” on the Influuent website, by comparison, brings up researchers across the system. Clicking on a name pulls up a profile of research interests, publications and co-authors, and users can quickly pin multiple researchers at different institutions and send them an email through a single contact form.
Influuent keeps the website up-to-date by pulling data every week from Scopus, the citation database owned by Elsevier. That means faculty members don’t have to worry about updating their profiles, Huie said.
“There’s no work on the faculty’s part,” Huie said. “Faculty members don’t necessarily have time to go out, meet with companies, do deals and say, ‘This is what I do.’”
Copies of the emails sent to researchers through Influuent go to the system office, which plans to follow up with researchers to track if the emails lead to partnerships and funding. In the future, the system hopes to expand Influuent with grants, patents and badges for faculty to indicate which stage of the research process they are in.
The Texas system consulted university leaders in Michigan and North Carolina as they were developing Influuent, Huie said. In Michigan, six public universities in 2011 banded together to form the Michigan Corporate Relations Network, or MCRN, in response to a challenge from the former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman to “partner or perish” (a play on the academic adage “publish or perish”).
The six universities received about $35,000 to help set up business engagement offices at their campuses. The initiative has also spawned a series of programs to help small- and medium-sized businesses and keep college graduates from leaving the state in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Stella Wixom, executive director of the office at the University of Michigan, said the first grant to the MCRN created 116 new jobs through co-funding research projects and internships, and more than $500,000 in financial benefits for the companies that participated. The network is in its second grant cycle and will seek a third, she said.
Influuent strongly resembles the MCRN’s Expertise and Resource Portal, which also pulls data from Elsevier. By compiling faculty experts across institutions in one database, Wixom said, business engagement offices can now more easily refer inquiring companies to researchers at other universities, should there be a better match there.
“Typically we’re very competitive with each other,” Wixom said about Michigan and the other universities in the state. “What we realized is that’s OK on the football field… but as a state, we needed to work together.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
- Jimmie Bruce, vice president of academic success at Northwest Vista College, in Texas, has been chosen as president of Eastern Gateway Community College, in Ohio.
- Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts and university professor in the New York University’s Department of Art and Public Policy, has been appointed president of Spelman College, in Georgia.
- Carlos Campo, former president of Regent University, in Virginia, has been selected as president of Ashland University, in Ohio.
- Paula Phillips Carson, assistant vice president for institutional planning and effectiveness at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has been chosen as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Missouri Southern State University.
- Barbara A. Chesler, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions at Columbus State University, in Georgia, has been appointed vice president for academic affairs at Caldwell University, in New Jersey.
- Ronald Johnson, dean of Texas Southern University’s business school, as been named president of Clark Atlanta University, in Georgia.
- Tarun B. Patel, professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Loyola University Chicago, has been named provost and vice president of academic affairs of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in New York.
- Michael Quick, interim provost and professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California, has been selected as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs there.
- Charles D. Sands, dean of the College of Allied Health and professor of public health at California Baptist University, has been promoted to provost and vice president for academic affairs there.
- Timothy Law Snyder, former vice president for academic affairs at Loyola University Maryland, has been appointed president of Loyola Marymount University, in California.
Source: Inside Higher Ed