Higher Education News
World & Nation
- On February 12, 2009, the NAACP will mark its 100th anniversary at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards, which will air live nationwide on the FOX network at 8 p.m. EST. Celebratory events for the organization began on January 20 with the NAACP Inaugural Ball, the first in the organization’s 100-year history.
The NAACP Headquarters, based in Baltimore, MD, along with its 1,700 units nationwide, will host celebrations and observances throughout the year ending on February 12, 2010, that highlight the significant role the organization has played in leading social change in America. For more information, visit http://www.naacp.org.
- Teachers union collective bargaining agreements may not actually be a stumbling block to high school reform, according to Teacher Union Contracts and High School Reform, a study from the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell.
Many teacher contracts have provisions that allow more flexibility in scheduling, transfer, assignment, and layoff than is commonly believed, the report notes. Contracts also often include provisions for waivers or side agreements that give educators a chance to adapt to changes, the study found.
- After a 15-year organizing battle, workers at the world’s largest hog- killing plant, the Smithfield Packing slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, N.C., have voted to unionize, with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The union, which had lost unionization elections at the 5,000-worker plant in 1994 and 1997, filed unfair labor practice charges against the company after the 1997 election. In 2006, after seven years of litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Smithfield had engaged in “intense and widespread” coercion.
This election campaign was conducted under special rules agreed to by the company and the union in a court-supervised settlement. “When workers have a fair process, they choose a voice on the job,” said UFCW Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill.
Faculty & Staff
- A report from the National Center for Education Statistics, “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2007,” which covers colleges and universities qualified to award federal financial aid, found that such institutions had 3.63 million employees in 2007—about 5 percent more than two years earlier.
The proportion working full time dropped to 64.1 percent, continuing a long decline. For those primarily involved in teaching, research, or other functions traditionally conducted by professors, the proportion of full-timers is 51.3 percent, down from 52.3 percent in 2005.
Of about 700,000 full-time faculty, about 41 percent had tenure, 19 percent were on the tenure track, 24 percent were not on the tenure track, and about 11 percent worked in institutions that did not have a tenure system. About half of those who said their institutions did not have tenure systems were at public two-year colleges, and about a quarter were at for-profit institutions.
- For the first time ever, the number of students taking the Graduate Record Examination declined in 2008. Since 2004, the number of people taking the GRE has increased steadily, from 501,000 to 633,000 in 2007. The Educational Testing Service projected 675,000 for 2008, but now expects the total to be about only 621,000. The drop is surprising because grad school applications usually increase in difficult economic times.
- Only 42 percent of faculty members teaching English in four-year colleges and universities and only 24 percent in two-year colleges hold tenured or tenure-track positions, according to a new report from the Modern Language Association.
"Education in the Balance: A Report on the Academic Workforce in English” also found “huge gaps” in the salaries of tenured and non-tenure track faculty members teaching English. Those paid on a per-course basis were earning less in 2006, when adjusted for inflation, than in 1999 in master’s and bachelor’s institutions.