All posts by Peter Schmidt


Arkansas Is Poised to Shield Public-College Police From Records Requests

Arkansas legislators have overwhelmingly voted to provide the campus security forces of public colleges and schools with broad exemptions from the state’s freedom-of-information law.

The unusual measure, which the State Senate voted on Tuesday to approve and send on to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, declares a host of records kept by campus police and security offices at public colleges to be confidential and exempt from open-records requests. They include any information that, if disclosed, “could rea…


Northwestern U. Is Accused of Violating Academic Freedom

Northwestern University engaged in “serious violations of academic freedom” both in its dealings with a bioethics journal that published a controversial article and in its investigation of Laura Kipnis, a film professor whom students accused of wrongdoing over her essay criticizing its sexual-misconduct policies, a faculty panel has concluded.

In a report on its findings, the Northwestern Faculty Senate’s ad hoc committee on academic freedom urges the university to revise its sexual-harassment…


New Study Charts Recent Proliferation of Faculty Unions

The number of faculty unions at the nation’s colleges has surged, with most of the growth the result of efforts by the Service Employees International Union to organize private colleges’ non-tenure-track instructors, a new study has found.

In the first nine months of 2016 alone, the National Labor Relations Board certified 20 new collective-bargaining units at private colleges, concludes the study, published online this week in the Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy. SEIU’s organizi…


Colleges Are Accused of Using Civics Instruction to Promote Liberal Activism

Colleges can expect to see their civics-education offerings come under fire from conservatives as a result of a report issued on Tuesday by the National Association of Scholars, an advocacy group.

The NAS, which takes a traditionalist view of higher education, argues in its report that a “New Civics” movement in higher education has supplanted objective teaching about the United States’ system of government with efforts to encourage students to engage in liberal or leftist political activism.


New Federal Guidance Is Hailed as Helping Adjuncts Collect Unemployment

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued long-awaited guidance clarifying when states should deem colleges’ contingent faculty members eligible for unemployment compensation.

The department’s new guidance spells out what criteria the state agencies should use in determining whether such instructors have lost their jobs — rendering them eligible for unemployment compensation — or are simply without work during the summer months. It includes criteria for determining whether colleges had previo…


Job Market for Doctoral Recipients Remains in Doldrums

People awarded doctoral degrees at American universities last year continued to face less-certain futures than those who earned such degrees before the economy took a nosedive in late 2008, according to new federal survey data.

The survey of 2015 doctorate recipients found that 38 percent of those responding to a question about their future plans reported having no definite commitment for employment or postdoctoral study. While a slight improvement over the previous year, when 38.6 percent of re…


Free-Speech Groups Describe Campus Media as Besieged

Colleges in every sector of higher education are threatening the independence of their student journalists, says a report released on Thursday by advocacy groups focused on free speech or academic freedom.

The report describes several recent public controversies — including those at Mt. Saint Mary’s University, in Maryland; Northern Michigan University; and Wesleyan University, in Connecticut — in which student newspapers or their advisers complained of coming under undue pressure to restrict…


Calif. Adjuncts Score Partial Victory in Bid for New Workplace Rights

Adjunct instructors at California’s community colleges have won significant new workplace rights — though not as many as they seemed poised to gain initially — under legislation signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown of California.

The first of two bills signed by Governor Brown, Assembly Bill 1690, had been so sweeping in its list of new adjunct rights at the colleges that it prompted worries that it might infringe on local governance of such institutions. The second measure the governor signed,


California Bill Would Give Community-College Adjuncts New Workplace Rights

A bill moving through the California Legislature would require the state’s community-college districts to contractually guarantee seniority and due-process rights to adjunct instructors.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1690, would make California the first state to legally require colleges to give part-time instructors such rights. It has received strong support in California’s Democratically held Legislature, where the Senate Appropriations Committee approved it last week and the Assembly overwhe…


Asian-American Groups Accuse Brown, Dartmouth, and Yale of Bias in Admissions

A long list of Asian-American groups plans on Monday to call for federal investigations of Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Yale University for alleged discrimination in admissions.

The Asian American Coalition for Education, consisting of more than 100 local, state, and national Asian-American organizations, intends to ask the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the three institutions. Its letter of complaint to the two federal a…