Month: August 2014

Usual Suspects Saying the Usual Things: Critiquing the Schmidt Report


This week the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a right-leaning group founded by Lynne Cheney (aka Darth Vader’s wife) released a report endorsed by a group of twenty-three trustees, administrators, and a handful of largely conservative faculty from elite institutions, headed by Benno Schmidt, former President of Yale University and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY), entitled “Governance for a New Era.”  The report argues: “There is no doubt that leadership of higher education is out of balance. Trustees should take a more active role in reviewing and benchmarking the work of faculty and administrators and monitoring outcomes.”  With respect to faculty control of curriculum, it contends there is “evidence that self-interest and personal ideologies can drive departmental directions rather than the interest of the students and preparation of citizens.”

Today Inside Higher Education released a podcast in…

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The Koch Brothers’ Gifts to Higher Ed Come with Many Strings Attached


The New York Post recently ran a story by Carl Campanile under this headline: “College Liberals Spurn $10M Gift from the Koch Brothers.” Mitchell Langbert, a faculty member in the Business School at Brooklyn College, had been in extended discussions with the Koch Brothers Foundation about establishing a “financial center” within the Business School.

When the Brooklyn College administration decided to reject the gift, Langbert asserted, “’It’s political correctness. It’s intolerance about anyone who doesn’t toe the left-wing line.’”

I am not going to pretend that Progressives have anything but disdain for what the Koch brothers represent—that Progressives have any less bias toward Far-Right ideologues than those ideologues have toward Progressives. But as Langbert himself must know, there were much deeper issues at play in this discussion and decision than simple political bias.

The Koch brothers, the Walton heirs, and others classifiable as both ultra-wealthy and politically Far Right have…

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Another Professor Punished for Anti-Israel Views–The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza….

Eslkevin's Blog

Another Professor Punished for Anti-Israel Views

 by Corey Robin

Until two weeks ago, Steven Salaita was heading to a job at the University of Illinois as a professor of American Indian Studies. He had already resigned from his position at Virginia Tech; everything seemed sewn up. Now the chancellor of the University of Illinois has overturned Salaita’s appointment and rescinded the offer. Because of Israel.

The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza….

For instance, there is this tweet: “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza.” Or this one: “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic shit in response to Israeli terror.” Or this one: “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream…

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More Than 275 Scholars Declare They Will Not Engage With University of Illinois

We’re not all sheep.

Eslkevin's Blog

More Than 275 Scholars Declare They Will Not Engage With University of Illinois

by Corey Robin at

In the last 24 hours, sociologists and scholars of composition and rhetoric have organized two new statements of refusal regarding the Steven Salaita affair.

1. The sociology statement reads as follows:

Dear Chancellor Wise:

We are members of Sociology departments from around the world who write, regretfully, to inform you that we will not engage with the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign as speakers, or as participants in conferences or other events at Illinois, until you rescind the decision to block Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment to the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Many prominent academics have written eloquently about the chilling effect your decision will have on the free expression of dissident ideas by academics; legal scholars have argued that it is…

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New Limits on Financial Aid Tied to Tuition in North Carolina


The Far-Right in North Carolina has received much national attention for passing blatantly anti-progressive legislation–most notably, more restrictive voting laws and dramatic reductions in funding for social safety-net programs. But, beyond the legislation that has generated the greatest controversy across the state and beyond, the Far Right legislature and governor—and the governor’s many appointees—have been pursuing all available opportunities to advance their extremist ideology. And higher education has been impacted in many ways by those efforts.

Most recently, the Far-Right majority on the UNC Board of governors, which oversees the public universities in North Carolina, has placed new limits on the percentage of the revenue generated by tuition that can be allocated financial aid. Institutions will now be able to deveote no more than 15% of their tuition revenue to financial aid.

Of the 17 public universities in North Carolina, six now allocate between 15% and 20% of their tuition…

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AAUP Officers’ Statement on Case of Steven Salaita


Today, Rudy Fichtenbaum, AAUP president, and Hank Reichman, first vice-president and chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, issued the statement below.

Statement on the Case of Professor Steven G. Salaita

We have read with concern yesterday’s report on that the University of Illinois has apparently withdrawn a job offer to Professor Steven G. Salaita. It appears that this decision came in response to the tone of his controversial comments on Twitter about the Israeli military action in Gaza. Because both Professor Salaita and the university administration have so far declined public comment, a number of facts concerning this case remain unclear. In particular, it is not certain whether the job offer had already been made in writing when Professor Salaita was informed that he would not be hired and hence whether or not Salaita could be considered to have already acquired the rights accruing…

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Bérubé on Salaita


The following is the text of a letter sent to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Chancellor Phyllis Wise by Michael Bérubé regarding the university’s apparent decision to revoke a job offer to Professor Steven Salaita.  Michael Bérubé is Edwin Earl Sparks Professor of Literature at Pennsylvania State University, a former president of the Modern Language Association, and a member of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.  He previously taught at UIUC.  The letter is posted with Professor Bérubé’s permission.

Dear Chancellor Wise,

I am writing with regard to your decision not to forward Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. As reported by Inside Higher Ed on August 6, this decision turned on the contents of Professor Salaita’s Twitter feed, specifically on his statements about Israel. While I do not share Professor Salaita’s sentiments with regard to content, and find them…

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The Higher Ed CFO Survey: For Whom the Bell Tolls


Last week, Gallup and Inside Higher Ed released a fascinating and troubling survey examining the opinions of CFO’s on the state of American higher education.

CFO’s from 438 colleges and universities responded to the survey. Researchers found that two-thirds of CFO’s questioned believe that higher education is facing a financial crisis. While 23 percent of CFOs at public colleges/universities and 26 percent at privates believe they can sustain their business model over the next five years, only 11 percent of CFOs at publics and 15 percent at privates think their model will hold over the next ten years.

Perhaps the word that best describes the reaction to their collective view is “yikes.”

Researchers then questioned what steps the CFO’s planned to reduce budgetary pressures ensuring the sustainability of their model. Interestingly, less than 25 percent planned to ask senior faculty to teach more students, outsource academic programs, revise tenure, offer…

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Doctoring Tenure


The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has written a five-page letter to the AAUP, which is considering an investigation of the institution because it revoked tenure and then dismissed two professors under its new system of re-evaluating faculty every seven years. The letter asks over 30 questions to the AAUP about its procedures and demands that the AAUP to justify its right to investigate the center.

Now, I don’t speak for the AAUP, and I can’t answer all these questions, but I do want to paraphrase and answer two fundamental questions posed in the letter: “What authority does the AAUP have to investigate anything?” and “Why should we protect tenure when we’re trying to lives?”

First, I could detail a long list of the AAUP’s century-old commitment to investigating cases involving academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance, or the AAUP’s almost ridiculous obsession with being unbiased and fair…

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Pasi Sahlberg: How American Innovation Improved Finnish Education

If we can’t innovate using our own studies and research, what does that say about America and our future.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The renowned Finnish educator, Pasi Sahlberg, explains how major American innovations improved education in Finland but are all too often forgotten here, where they originated.

He begins with a new report from the OECD that measures educational innovation between 2003 and 2011. The U.S. does not get high rankings from the OECD, yet oddly enough, other nations send delegations here to learn about what we do that has made us such a successful nation.

Sahlberg writes:

“An interesting observation that anyone interested in what current high-performing school systems have in common is that they all, some more than the others, have derived critical lessons from abroad. Singapore, one of the most successful reformers and highest performers in global education, has been sending students to study education in U.S. universities and encouraged university professors to collaborate in teaching and research with their American colleagues. Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea have…

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