Yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch included a report that Gordon Gee, President Emeritus of Ohio State University, has agreed to become Interim President at West Virginia University. There is a news conference scheduled at West Virginia University this morning of this afternoon, but I am assuming that the Dispatch would not have printed the story without feeling confident about the credibility of the source.
This turn in Gee’s career is perhaps not a total surprise, given that he has served as President of Brown, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, and, again, Ohio State. It is not very common for someone to serve as the president of more than one or two institutions. But Gee became a president at a considerably younger age than most presidents do so, and he has been more peripatetic than most presidents are.
In addition, his most recent resignation as President of Ohio State came after he made some off-the-cuff and ostensibly off-the-record, snarky comments about the schools against which Ohio State’s major sports teams compete for national attention. So, while I am sure that some, probably including Gee himself, would contest the assertion that he was forced out as President, the close chronology suggests that the controversy over those comments was at least a contributing factor in his stepping down as President.
Interestingly, in response to the controversy, Ohio State’s Board of Trustees had apparently pressured Gee to get some sort of sensitivity counseling, and he had even agreed to begin sessions with a particular counselor, but after he “retired,” the need for the counseling apparently became moot—even though he signed a five-year contract to continue with the university as President Emeritus. Continue reading
In a recent post, I detailed the “golden goodbyes,” the no longer extraordinary, very generous retirement packages, being negotiated by university presidents across the United States. I described this trend as salient evidence of the corporatization of our universities, but I don’t think that one can truly understand what is occurring with pensions without knowing the numbers.
Here are the CEOs with the top ten retirement accounts (source: the Center for Effective Government’s report Platinum-Plated Pensions):
Personal Pension Fund: $144,278,492
Anticipated Monthly Pension Payment: $853,205
Personal Pension Fund: $134,458,619
Anticipated Monthly Pension Payment: $795,134
Personal Pension Fund: $113,157,559
Anticipated Monthly Pension Payment: $669,169 Continue reading
On Nov. 14, 2013, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineering professor Louis Wozniak had his tenure revoked and was dismissed by a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees. Illinois Academe invited him to tell his side of the story, and this essay is reprinted from the Fall issue.
By Louis Wozniak
This is not about a 52-year veteran of the University of Illinois with the dubious distinction of having been recommended by President Easter to the Board of Trustees for revocation of tenure and dismissal. Having defended convincingly at all faculty-staffed committees, and to have their recommendations unheeded by administration, this is about faculty “shared governance” that has degraded to an oxymoron.
The firing of Louis Wozniak by the University of Illinois raises disturbing questions about academic freedom, due process, and the failure of faculty to defend these principles. Normally, the firing of a tenured professor is such an extraordinary event that it involves acts of breathtaking misconduct or total incompetence. This is not the case with Louis Wozniak. In fact, if Wozniak were a mediocre teacher, he would still be working at the University of Illinois. It was Wozniak’s excellence in teaching that led him to be given awards, and then to being fired when he objected to not receiving a teaching award that he had earned.
The Board of Trustees report (pdf link) on Wozniak is startling because of the reasons actually given for his dismissal: causing a student to cry, reporting this fact publicly, and then refusing to censor his website or conversations about it. This, according to the Board of Trustees, was the reason for Wozniak’s firing: “Professor Wozniak engaged in professional misconduct when he publicly disseminated information about a student’s emotional reaction during a private conversation between her and Wozniak.”
Apart from Far Right efforts to legislate against the use of Spanish in American public life, it is not often that a linguistic topic becomes one of the top headlines of the day. But this month, one of the headlines read: “’Selfie’ Tops ‘Twerk’ as Oxford’s Word of the Year.”
The folks at Oxford collect about 150,000,000 words of English from written sources and the Internet each month and scan them for usage patterns. To earn the top spot, “selfie” increased in usage by 17,000% from 2011 to 2012.
Immediately, I imagined James Murray, the editor who oversaw the development of the Oxford English Dictionary, not just rolling over but actually spinning in his grave.
Besides “selfie” and “twerk,” here are the other words that made the “shortlist” (it seems that every list related to language and literature must now imitate the Booker Prize): Continue reading
Moody’s Investors Service released its outlook for higher education in 2014. Looking at Moody’s interpretation of a survey of net tuition revenues, Scott Carlson called the report “grim” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Moody’s suggested that weak economy will impact families capacity to pay. They noted that federal budgetary concerns, including a potential sequestration threat, could affect financial aid.
Moody’s further indicated that the rapid growth of online courses will impact the pace of change in higher education. They also argued most ominously that expenses are outpacing revenue, noting “after multiple years of stagnant capital investment and tightened control of operating spending, pressure is building to invest in capital, information systems, faculty compensation, and program renewal.”
There is nothing new in Moody’s report; indeed, the ratings agencies remain concerned about a crisis triggered by changing demographics, consumer preferences, the lingering great recession, technology enhancements, and an inability and at times unwillingness to innovate effectively and efficiently within higher education.
What was most interesting perhaps in the Chronicle’s report on Moody’s findings was the discussion that followed by the magazine’s readers. Continue reading
In her testimony, Maria Maisto correctly emphasizes that the ACA itself is not the problem but, instead, the efforts by colleges and universities to avoid providing to their part-time faculty the health insurance that the ACA makes available.
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Testimony for the Record
Submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce
for the November 14, 2013 Hearing on
“The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities.”
Good morning, Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and members of the committee on Education and the Workforce. My name is Maria Maisto, and I am the president of New Faculty Majority and the Executive Director of its affiliated Foundation. We are the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to improving the quality of higher education by improving the working conditions of the majority of faculty who work in temporary, precarious positions while teaching over half of all undergraduate courses in higher education. This majority is now 75% of the faculty, or over a million professors, often known as “adjuncts,” working on contingent appointments—that is, appointments that are contingent on budgets and enrollments and can be terminated with little or no notice. Continue reading
Not surprisingly, the following news release reflecting the ideological position of the GOP majority on the committee completely ignores Maria Maisto’s testimony and frames the hearings in which she participated as providing just further evidence of the supposedly devastating impact of the ACA. Notice that Maria’s testimony is not quoted even once in the excerpts from the hearings that constitute the second half of the news release, but the two administrators who clearly oppose the ACA are quoted repeatedly.
Hearing Exposes ObamaCare’s Painful Consequences for Students, Educators, and Schools
The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing to discuss the challenges schools and postsecondary institutions now face as a result of President Obama’s government takeover of health care.
“Over the last several years we’ve talked a great deal about the budgetary challenges facing states, school districts, and institutions of higher education,” Chairman Kline said. “We’ve discussed how Washington can at times make these fiscal problems worse. Much of the debate has focused on the costs of federal rules, regulations, and mandates that directly intervene in classrooms.”
“However,” Chairman Kline added, “we must be mindful that federal policies unrelated to education can still burden classrooms. The health care law is a prime example. At a time when we need to recruit the best teachers, train today’s workers for the jobs of the future, and school leaders are trying to do more with less, imposing a fundamentally flawed and costly law on our schools is not in the best interests of teachers, parents, taxpayers, or students.” Continue reading
Nov 19, 2013 Issues: Education, Higher Education, Labor, Jobs and Job Training, Worker Rights,Wages and Benefits
WASHINGTON – Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today announced an eForum to investigate how an increased reliance on contingent faculty by colleges and universities nationwide has impacted the lives of faculty as well as students’ higher education.
“This eForum is an opportunity for adjuncts and other contingent faculty to inform the Congress about what’s happening on the ground with higher education. I think there is a huge lack of understanding of what it means to be in the adjunct world,” said Rep. Miller. Rep. Miller raised the idea of an internet forum for receiving adjuncts’ stories and comments at a committee hearing last week.
“We should all be alarmed about what’s been happening to higher education labor over the last couple decades,” Rep. Miller later elaborated. “Tuition keeps skyrocketing. Yet the people doing the bulk of the work educating college students are getting less and less compensation. There are adjuncts who make between $2000 and $3000 per course for a semester, with no benefits. There are adjuncts on food stamps. I think the Congress should be taking a serious look at this phenomenon.” Continue reading
In previous posts, I have detailed Gordon Gee’s extraordinary compensation as President Emeritus of Ohio State, as well as the fact that the only two public university administrators whose compensation exceeded his in 2012 were Graham B. Spanier of Penn State and Jay Gogue of Auburn, both of whom have also retired—Spanier under considerably more fire for his role in covering up Jerry Sandusky’s serial child abuse than Gee received for his derogatory comments about other universities whose football teams have been ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. Notably, Spanier’s base salary for his final year as the President of Penn State constituted only 12.1% of his total compensation for that year, and Gogue’s for his final year at Auburn, only 19% of his total compensation.
Nonetheless, it seems that Gee’s hanging on in a reduced and overpaid role is becoming more the model than Spanier’s and Gogue’s very large but one-time payouts. I have stolen the subtitle of this post from an article that appeared in the Boston Globe. Written by Todd Wallack, the article delineates the post-retirement compensation received by former Brandeis president, Jehudas Reinharz. Although Reinharz reclaimed his old office in the history department, there is no record of his doing any teaching, supervision of graduate theses, or departmental service over the three years since he retired from the presidency of the university. Yet, he has been receiving $600,000 per year, making him the second most highly paid employee at the university. In fairness to Reinharz, his compensation from the university declined to $500,000 in 2011, further declined to about $285,000 for the years from 2011 to 2014, and will thereafter be $180,000 per year to compensate him for being a “half-time professor.” But, in addition to what he earns directly from the university, Reinharz has been named the president of the Mandel Foundation, which has contributed more than $50 million in external funding to the university over the last two decades, and he is reportedly receiving another $800,000 per year in that role. Continue reading