Earlier this month, two items appeared on the same day on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website.
The first article was written by Charles Huckabee and concerns the decision by Smith College to consider and admit transgender applicants who identify as female. Several years ago, Smith had generated controversy first by rejecting a transgender applicant who identified as male on the application for financial aid and then by refusing to reconsider the applicant even if the other application materials supported the applicant’s female gender identification. At that time, the college required that all of the documents submitted by an applicant “consistently reflect her identity as a woman.” Now the college will require simply that an applicant self-identify as female.
The second article was written by Jack Stripling and concerns the announcement by Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, the President of Mills College, that she will not seek to have her contract extended and will step down as President when her current contract ends in June 2016. As I noted in a post to this blog in August 2014 [https://academeblog.org/2014/08/26/mills-college-becomes-the-first-single-gender-college-to-admit-transgender-students/], Mills College became the first single-gender institution in the U.S. to accept transgender applicants. But as I noted in another post less than a month later [https://academeblog.org/2014/08/31/mills-college-a-selectively-progressive-institution/], Mills College’s progressivism on student gender identification did not extend to recognition of the collective-bargaining rights of its adjunct faculty. Those faculty had voted by a substantial margin to unionize, and the college administration had used all sorts of tactics to delay contract negotiations and to retaliate against the leadership of the new union.
But, as Stripling has reported, DeCoudreaux’s problems with faculty seem to have involved the college’s full-time as well as part-time faculty: “In a letter to the college’s Board of Trustees, a draft of which was provided to The Chronicle, the Faculty Executive Committee said an imminent vote would ‘call for the immediate resignation of the president.’ The letter cited a ‘lack of meaningful leadership’ and ‘consistent refusal to collaborate or consult with faculty on college affairs or to act on ideas put forward by faculty.’”
Charles Huckabee’s complete article is available at: http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/smith-college-to-accept-transgender-applicants/98297
Jack Stripling’s complete article is available at: http://chronicle.com/article/Behind-Mills-College-Chief-s/229891/