Apr 152015


Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 5:00 am

By John Newsom

Janie Robbins works five days a week teaching English to people who don’t speak the language.

She loves the teaching. The money? Not so much.

Though Robbins is teaching three courses, she figures that she will make only about $3,700 this semester. To make ends meet, the Greensboro resident pulls money out of her retirement account, works as a substitute teacher in a nearby school system and gets food stamps.

“You do it to survive,” said Robbins, who has taught college business classes off and on for the past decade. “I’m tired of just surviving.”

Robbins is one of a growing number of part-time workers who teach college courses for low pay, no benefits and little job security. A few even need public assistance to get by. These adjuncts, as they are known, have been called the fast-food workers of the academic world.

The concern about the pay and working conditions of part-time professors led to a one-day nationwide walkout in February and demands for $15,000 per class in salary and benefits. Today, adjuncts across the country will stand with fast-food workers, home health care providers, retail employees and other low-paid workers who want to earn what they say is a livable wage of $15 an hour.

On college campuses, part-time adjuncts have for years worked alongside full-time professors.

Colleges traditionally have hired these inexpensive part-time teachers so they can offer extra class sections as needed. Many are professionals and retirees, who can make a few thousand dollars teaching a class or two on the side.

In recent years, however, colleges have grown to rely more heavily on part-time adjuncts.

Forty years ago, 45 percent of the nation’s university faculty had tenure or were on a track to get it. (Tenure is a career-defining milepost for college professors that brings with it job security, among other things.) About 25 percent of college professors worked only part time, according to the American Association of University Professors, a nationwide group of college faculty members.

Today, those numbers have flipped as universities look for a way to keep labor costs down. Tenured and tenure-track faculty make up only 25 percent of university faculty. More than 4 out of 10 — 41 percent — are part-timers.

“Budget is always the reason,” said Jim Carmichael, a professor at UNC-Greensboro and the president of the North Carolina conference of the AAUP. “When you hire permanent faculty, it’s permanent money.”

Consider the difference in pay.

Full professors at large universities can make $100,000 or more a year.

Full-time teachers who don’t have tenure or a tenure-track job — they’re usually called “lecturer,” “instructor,” “visiting professor” and sometimes “adjunct” — generally are paid half that.

Part-time adjuncts usually make an average of about $2,700 per class, according to the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, a group of higher education and faculty associations. The coalition says pay rates have barely budged in years, even for adjuncts with Ph.D.s who have worked for several years at the same institution.

Because they’re paid only for their classroom hours, many adjuncts report having to prepare for class, meet with students and grade papers on their own time. They don’t get health insurance, sick leave or paid vacation.

Most part-time adjuncts teach only one or two courses a semester. (Four courses per semester is generally considered a full teaching load.) Anecdotally, some people have reported teaching five or six classes at several different colleges at the same time. Even with a full load of courses, an adjunct might make only about $20,000 a year.

The Service Employees International Union, which is trying to organize adjuncts nationwide, said the pay is so low for those stringing together temporary teaching jobs that 7 percent of part-time adjuncts get food stamps or Medicaid. A quarter are enrolled in at least one public assistance program.

On Feb. 25, adjuncts across the country walked out of class to draw attention to their plight. At some campuses, including UNC-Chapel Hill, students and tenured faculty members read statements from adjuncts scared to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

University officials at the time promised to take a look at the issue.

“Clearly the issues are complex, have evolved over a long period of time, and are not unique to UNC,” university Provost Jim Dean told the News & Observer of Raleigh.

For Robbins, 58, the issue is simple: She needs more money.

After getting her MBA in 2004, Robbins taught business classes at Guilford College and two area community colleges while working full time at a small-business center at N.C. A&T.

When A&T laid her off in early 2008, she worked a series of part-time jobs until GTCC hired her in 2012. She taught a job skills class for seven months. For the past two years, she has taught three English Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, classes. Her classes meet four nights a week and Friday mornings.

Robbins is paid $18.50 an hour — about $5.50 an hour more than she was making as the part-time manager of a teacher-supply warehouse.

But her three GTCC classes this semester total add up to 13 credit hours. Robbins, like other adjuncts, gets paid only for the hours she spends in the classroom.

Robbins figures she works an additional 12 hours a week to write lesson plans, file online attendance reports and deal with students and college administrators outside of class.

When she factors that extra time into her pay, she’s bringing in less than $10 an hour.

“I’m working for nothing,” Robbins said. “At the beginning of the semester, I was paying them to work. I can’t do it any more.”

So she’s quitting at the end of the semester.

Robbins said she needs a better job, something with health insurance, something that will help her repay the student loans she took out to get her MBA.

She said she loves teaching — the back of her business card says “LOVE to Teach! — and she will miss her students most of all.

“They fill my heart with joy,” Robbins said.

“But you know the problem with that? It doesn’t pay my bills.”

Apr 152015


By Sarah Barr


The Gregg Museum of Art & Design expansion project moved into its next phase Tuesday after a yearslong effort to raise millions of dollars in private funding.

Using shovels painted in bright colors by N.C. State University students, officials participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking in front of a crowd of hundreds to mark the start of construction.

The university museum will have a new home in the former chancellor’s residence on Hillsborough Street near the Memorial Belltower. The historic house will be renovated, and a new gallery space of 15,000 feet will be added to help accommodate the museum’s collection of more than 30,000 objects.

N.C. State had pledged not to begin construction until the $9.8 million project was fully funded, including a $3.9 million campaign for private funding from individuals, corporations and foundations.

Construction is expected to take 18 months. The plan also includes new parking and classroom spaces.

Roger Manley, director of the museum, said the expansion adds not just more space but greater visibility. For years, the museum was tucked into the Talley Student Center, making it tough for visitors to find it and to park.

The expansion also will create room for a sculpture garden and events, such as weddings or outdoor film screenings, Manley said.

He expects the museum will work with its neighbors – Pullen Park, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and Theatre in the Park – to provide programming for the campus and community.

“We’re poised to become a real tourist attraction,” he said.

The renovations to the residence, such as new lighting and shelving, will be minor and designed to preserve the building’s historic character. The second floor will become office space for the museum.

The project kicked off in 2010 when university officials voted to move the Gregg Museum to the chancellor’s residence. The museum has been without a permanent home since the spring of 2013 because of renovations at the student center.

The fundraising campaign for the museum got its last major boost in February, when the Wake County Board of Commissioners awarded $650,000 to the project from hotel and restaurant tax revenue.

“That went a very, very long way to get us to the end,” said Christina Menges, development director for ARTS NC STATE.

The university has estimated the county will recoup its investment in two years because of additional hotel and restaurant business.

Philipp Lindemann, 20, a political science major at N.C. State who is active in the university’s arts programs, said he’s thrilled to see the Gregg make the move to a new home.

“It was this hidden gem we had in the student center,” he said. “I’d say this construction is going to be huge for its visibility.”

Apr 152015





The mother of a student accused of killing an employee at a North Carolina community college says her son snapped and needs mental help.

Kenneth Morgan Stancil III, 20, was arrested early Tuesday in Florida, a day after authorities say he shot and killed Ron Lane, 44, a print shop director at Wayne Community College.

“He had a moment of insanity. I don’t know,” Stancil’s mother, Debbie Stancil, said. “He just snapped. That is not my son,” she said. “He’s probably out of his mind. I think he needs mental help.”

Stancil was arrested without incident early Tuesday while sleeping on a Florida beach, about 500 miles from the Goldsboro college. Stancil made his first court appearance later in the day in Daytona Beach, Florida, saying in a profanity-laced and unsubstantiated tirade that the man he killed had molested a relative.

The judge denied bond and appointed a public defender.

Debbie Stancil said she knows the relative was not sexually abused by Lane, as Kenneth Stancil claimed in court, because the relative and Lane had never met. She believes Kenneth Stancil is making the accusations because he is “rattled and confused.”

Police have not released a motive in the shooting.

Debbie Stancil said her son was angry over being dismissed from a work-study job with Lane. She also said Lane, who was gay, made sexually laced comments to her son.

“He was verbally inappropriate with Morgan at school. Very much verbally inappropriate,” she said. “He would tell him to stop and he kept on.”

Lane’s brother and sister declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press. College spokeswoman Tara Humphries said she did not know whether any complaints had been lodged against Lane.

Lane worked for Wayne Community College for 18 years, most recently as the school’s print shop director. Stancil was a welding student who tattooed a neo-Nazi symbol on his face.

But Lane and Stancil were linked — whether they knew it or not — by the suicides of people very close to them. Lane’s partner of 12 years killed himself last year. Stancil’s mother says her son never recovered after finding his father in the backyard after he had killed himself in 2009.

Stancil entered the print shop on the third floor of a campus building Monday morning and shot Lane once with a pistol-grip shotgun, police said. The shooting prompted a campus-wide lockdown and officers stormed the building looking for Stancil, who fled on a motorcycle.

“Mr. Stancil had a calculated plan,” Goldsboro police Sgt. Jeremy Sutton said.

It wasn’t clear how long Lane and Stancil had worked together. Stancil was due to graduate from his three-semester-degree course this summer, but he had been a continuing education student before that, Humphries said.

Brent Hood, coordinator of education support technology at the college, was Lane’s supervisor for the past three years. He said he didn’t think Lane was killed because he was gay. But Lane was in mourning when his partner disappeared in July and then when his remains were found months later, Hood said. Police said Chuck Tobin killed himself. Lane insisted that Tobin be described as his long-term partner in an email Hood sent to other staffers announcing the discovery.

“The administration was a little concerned. But Ron wanted it to be said that way,” Hood said. Lane was “comfortable in his own skin, like he had no cares in the world.”

Stancil had no criminal record before the shooting. He was on the school’s dean’s list with a grade point average of 3.6 or better and due to graduate in July with a degree in welding technology, the school said. He was a Boy Scout who wrote in the letter he left explaining his deed that he still hoped to marry his girlfriend, his mother said.

But the same six-page letter turned over to homicide investigators explained that Stancil never got over finding his father’s body in 2009, Debbie Stancil said.

Stancil also took an interest in changing his appearance by giving himself tattoos. He gave himself a facial tattoo last weekend that included the number “88” on his left cheek. Experts who track hate groups said the number is a neo-Nazi code for praising Adolf Hitler. Neo-Nazis have often been accused of attacking gays, said Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

Police said they are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime but have not said whether Stancil held white supremacist beliefs or what hate crime they are investigating. Stancil’s mother said the tattoo marked a wannabe rather than someone with neo-Nazi beliefs.

Goldsboro police and the Wayne County district attorney’s office will work to have Stancil extradited to North Carolina to face a murder charge.

Apr 152015


By Nick Anderson April 15 at 8:43 AM

A growing number of U.S. colleges and universities are under federal investigation for their response to sexual assault reports. In the past year, the total has nearly doubled, from 55 to more than 100.

Sometimes, schools are found in violation of federal law against gender discrimination. Often the investigations take more than a year, to the frustration of school officials, who want a rapid verdict. There are cases that take three or four years. The University of Virginia has been under a federal investigation related to sexual violence issues since June 2011.

Last week, a different scenario emerged: An investigation was resolved in less than a year. As The Washington Post reported, the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Education Department found insufficient evidence to sustain allegations that Virginia Military Institute mishandled a sexual assault report.

Case opened Sept. 15, 2014; case closed April 6, 2015; school cleared.

Below is the nine-page letter from OCR to the public military college in Lexington, Va., resolving the matter, which The Post obtained this week via the Freedom of Information Act. Portions have been redacted to protect the privacy of the cadet who filed the complaint. The letter is notable because it offers an unusual window into how the federal government enforces the 1972 anti-discrimination law known as Title IX.

It is worth noting that before this case, OCR had recently concluded a six-year investigation of sex discrimination allegations at VMI. That probe led to changes in policy and findings of official missteps that distressed VMI officials. But they accepted the resolution in the interest of moving forward. In doing so, VMI leaders might have paved the way for the speedy conclusion of the latest probe.

Apr 142015
Posted: Apr 10, 2015 12:22 AM EDT Updated: Apr 10, 2015 9:00 PM EDT

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Some doctors are calling for an end to the annual physical for healthy adults.The Society of General Internal Medicine called for doctors to avoid giving out yearly checkups.

Most of the 44 million people who get physicals don’t pay for the procedure, but the Journal of the American Medical Association reported insurance companies spend billions every year on it.

“Is it necessary to have a physical exam? Maybe not, but there are certain screening measures that we do want to do on a regular basis,” Dr. Lacy Hobgood of ECU Physicians said.

For more information on recommended screening measures, click here.

Apr 142015
Posted: Apr 10, 2015 5:29 PM EDT Updated: Apr 10, 2015 5:34 PM EDT

GREENVILLE, N.C. – A new Brody School of Medicine study shed light on electronic cigarette usage among high school students in the East. The study focused on one county in the East, surveying 3,298 high school students.

Researchers wanted to look at how many teens were using e-cigarettes, and their attitudes towards it.

“I found that people were getting easy access to this from their friends, so there was a lot of peer modeling going on,” said Vivek Anand, the researcher behind the study.
Anand found that back in May 2013, 80% of students surveyed had heard of e-cigarettes, and 15.2% reported using them. Additionally, Anand’s study found 80% of the students surveyed thought e-cigarettes only consisted of water.

A national survey in December 2014 showed around 17% of high school students used the product.

“Pregnant teenagers are using it because they don’t know or they think that they’re just safe,” Anand said.

Electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular in the area, especially in Greenville. Shop owners selling the product said they started noticing a spike in sales within the last year.

“Lately it’s been a lot of the younger generation, like around my age group,” said Danny Webb at SmokeSmart. “You’ve got anywhere from high school seniors to college kids coming in.”

Shop owners said e-cigarettes are popular in all age groups because the cost of it compared to regular cigarettes makes it appealing.

“It’s cheaper than normal cigarettes and smells better,” said Derrick Joyner, owner of The Puffing Pirates.

But doctors said they are worried about the health impacts e-cigarettes could have. Dr. Ronald Perkin, chair of ECU’s Department of Pediatrics, said there’s a misconception with this product.

“While they may be less harmful then regular cigarettes, they’re still not without harm,” Perkin said.

Students who participated in the study took a 47 question survey. From that survey, Anand found that students were 800% more likely to smoke if their mother did, and 280% more likely to smoke if their father did.

He said they hope to expand this study and include samples from other counties in the East in the future. He also said he would like to see more of an emphasis being placed on education about e-cigarettes in schools.

Apr 142015


April 14, 2015

East Carolina junior guard Terry Whisnant has opted to skip his senior season and pursue a professional career according to an announcment from coach Jeff Lebo on Monday.

“While we are disappointed to see Terry leave, we understand his desire to do what’s best for him and his family,” Lebo said. “We wish him all the best in the future and thank him for his dedication to our program.”
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Whisnant was ECU’s second-leading scorer in his only season with the Pirates after transferring from Florida State. He averaged 12.3 points per game and was one of only two ECU players who started all 33 games. Whisnant ranked fourth in the American Athletic Conference in 3-point field goals made per game, ninth in 3-point field goal percentage and ninth free throw percentage. He averaged a team-high 31.5 minutes played per game and hit a team-best 77 shots from 3-point range while ranking second with 60 assists and 31 steals.

“This decision was very tough for me because of my teammates, who I like to call brothers,” Whisnant said. “Ultimately I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball at the next level. I’d like to thank coach Lebo and the entire coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play in front of the Pirate Nation.”

Apr 142015


By Michael Abramowitz
April 14, 2015

Jim Taylor of Boone and his friends, Brad and Robin Hardie of Mountain City, Tenn., decided last week to go for a bike ride to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month in a big way.

The ride, called Cycling4LIFE: Beech to Beach, started April 4 at Beech Mountain and will end Thursday at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, a distance of approximately 500 miles.
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During Sunday’s leg from Wilson to Greenville, Fountain Mayor Shirley Mitchell came out to greet the riders. While in Greenville, they had dinner at Cubbies and went to the Drew Steele Center. Under Monday’s clear, warm skies, they stopped cycling on the way to Washington, N.C., on N.C. 33 at Mobley’s Bridge in Grimesland to discuss a topic to which the 73-year-old Taylor is devoted.

“When I started working in special education in 1965, one in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism,” said Taylor, who retired after 50 years in special education, 10 of them teaching at East Carolina University. “In the 1980s, we developed a good definition of the disorder, and the numbers climbed to one in 586 diagnosed with autism. Now, with one in 58 North Carolina children being diagnosed, programs need to be developed for these exceptional people.”

Taylor’s KAMPN Inc. (Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature) is a nonprofit program begun in 2011 to support camping experiences for children with autism and their families. Its mission is to provide an option rarely available for families with children on the autism spectrum: to experience — at no cost — activities in nature at the organization’s uniquely designed overnight summer camp program, Camp Cogger, in Deep Gap.

The camp provides each child and family an opportunity for interaction with other families during the week and allows them to discuss the challenges and rewards they are faced with daily.

“Our three Rs are recreation, relaxation and relationships,” Taylor said.

The camp provides a model that can be replicated in other areas of the state and country, he said. In addition, participating university students training for careers in special education benefit by working with the children and families under the supervision of trained staff and university personnel.

“We’ve had wonderful experiences with the children, their parents and the university students,” Taylor said. “Some of the students have changed from other majors to special education after their experiences at Camp Cogger.”

That project led Taylor and his board to realize that as children with autism grow older, they will need to have lives with purpose.

That led to another major project, this time for adults with autism and other related disorders, called LIFE (Live Innovations For Exceptional) Village, being developed under the KAMPN banner and Taylor’s leadership. The goal is to open the village in the next three to five years with the help of donations and state grants, he said.

“In the next 10 years, there will be half a million adults with autism entering our society unable to function at a level we consider normal, so we need to plan and prepare something that provides them with a purposeful life,” Taylor said. “Our sustainable LIFE Village will support up to 32 people with autism in eight residences. It also will offer people from the surrounding community, nearby colleges and universities the opportunity to volunteer and interact to give exceptional people a chance for a happy life that the village will provide.”

Taylor’s riding teammates said they were feeling good after 10 days on the road, upbeat and excited about their charitable adventure.

“I retired three years ago to enjoy the outdoors,” former U.S. Navy and United Airlines pilot Brad Hardie, 63, said. “I’ve had a great life, so if taking two weeks to do this for Jim helps one other person have a good life, I consider my mission accomplished.”

Hardie’s wife, Robin, 55, a regular outdoor adventurer, said she has learned a lot more about how adults with autism live.

“There really is nothing for them now,” she said. “They deserve to have happy lives as much as anyone else.”

The fundraising has just begun for LIFE Village, with a goal of $5,000 set for the Beech to Beach journey. To donate to Cycling4LIFE, visit www.gofundme.com/cycling4LIFE. For more information about KAMPN, visit www.kampn4autism.appstate.edu.

Apr 142015


Posted: Apr 13

By Pierce Legeion, Meteorologist

Spring is in the air, and so is baseball season. The field at Clark-LeClair Stadium looks absolutely beautiful this time of year, and you better believe it takes a whole lot of effort behind the scenes to keep it that way.

And there’s one man who orchestrates it all. Joey Perry is in charge of the turf at all of ECU’s sports stadiums. As you might imagine, game days tend to be long ones for him.

Perry said “I’m out here way before the game starts. A 6:30 (pm) game, I’m out here at 9 o’clock (am) getting the mounting plate fixed, getting a little moisture into the dirt, then mowing. So it’s an all day process to get ready for a game.”

Perry says you can get the same results at home with a little due diligence. What does he suggest?

“I would suggest Bermuda grass because it’s the easiest thing to take care of. And then sharpen your reels, sharpen your blades. You put a little fertilizer on it and it’s hard to go wrong with Bermuda” suggested Perry.

Perry also recommends spreading 1 pound a month of a 10-10-10 or 16-4-8 fertilizer from May – September to keep your lawn looking nice and healthy. And if you haven’t gotten a jump start on getting rid of those weeds, it might be too late.

Perry explains “Well you’re almost a little late right now. It’s a process, you have to pre-emerge in February or March to keep those summer weeds out and then you pre-emerge again in September/October to keep the winter weeds out.”

Pre-emergents, like weed and feed and crabgrass preventers, will discourage weed growth without harming your lawn.

Spring after the threat of frost has passed is the best time to plant Bermuda grass.

Apr 142015


Associated Press



The man who police say fatally shot his former boss at a North Carolina community college was arrested early Tuesday more than 500 miles away in Florida, sleeping on a beach with a knife, authorities said.

A beach patrol officer found Kenneth Morgan Stancil III, 20, about 1:30 a.m. in Daytona Beach, a spokeswoman for Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue said.

“Our officer did a well-being check on the subject and woke him up,” spokeswoman Tamra Marris said in an email. “Initially the subject had a knife on him and was ordered to put the knife down. The subject complied with the officer’s orders and the subject was apprehended without incident.”

Stancil is accused of shooting and killing print shop director Ron Lane in the print shop at Wayne County Community College on Monday morning, sparking a lockdown on campus and a manhunt. Lane had supervised Stancil, a former student, under a work-study program, officials said.
A North Carolina State Highway patrolman walks the grounds on campus following a shooting at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, N.C., Monday, April 13, 2015. One person was killed and the campus was locked down as authorities searched for a gunman, officials said.

Goldsboro police and the Wayne County district attorney’s office will work to have Stancil extradited to North Carolina to face charges, Dean said. It was unclear when he would have a hearing in Florida.

Stancil faces an open count of murder, Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce said Monday.

Meanwhile, students planned to return to class at the college Tuesday.

The school was placed on lockdown after the shooting around 8 a.m. Monday.

First-year student Joniece Simmons, 19, said she was sitting on a bench outside the learning center when two officers with rifles and a third with a drawn handgun ran toward the building, shouting for students to take cover. She and others ran inside to the cafeteria and locked the door.

Though they were urged to stay silent, some students still wanted to talk. “I was like, ‘Hush, it’s serious.’ I was crying,” Simmons said.

Nearby, the private Wayne County Day School — with about 300 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade — also was on lockdown, said Melissa Watkins, a volunteer parent receptionist at the school.

“We saw 10 to 11 cruisers go by all at once,” she said. “We knew something was going on; we just didn’t know what or where.”

Sheriff’s deputies blocked the driveway to the white mobile home listed as the residence Stancil shared with his mother and two younger brothers.

A next-door neighbor on the road lined with brick ranch homes, Barbara Williams, said Stancil’s grandparents lived on the other side of the mobile home, where they operated an assisted living home. A sign in the front yard said “Stancil Family Care Home.” An elderly man with a cane who came to the front door declined comment to an Associated Press reporter.

Williams said Stancil once helped her late husband when he fell out of his bed.

“He came over here and picked him right up and put him back on the bed,” Williams said. “I’ve never had no problems with those kids. … It just surprises me.”

Apr 142015


By Colin Campbell

Former N.C. Sen. Thom Goolsby – a newly appointed member of the UNC Board of Governors – is lobbying for a group representing the internet sweepstakes industry.

Goolsby, who resigned from the legislature last year, announced Thursday that he’ll serve as spokesman for the newly formed N.C. Small Business Coalition. Goolsby is also a registered lobbyist for the group, which is pushing the General Assembly to legalize, regulate and tax internet sweepstakes games.

“North Carolina is a gaming state, with a state lottery and a Las Vegas-style casino in Cherokee,” Goolsby said in a news release. “Small business owners who choose to offer a sweepstakes promotion and are fully complying with North Carolina’s electronic sweepstakes laws deserve the right to operate without interference from state government. Our members are good citizens and will lobby the General Assembly for positive change.”

According to N.C. Secretary of State filings, the Small Business Coalition was incorporated in February by Gardner Payne, a Charlotte attorney and lobbyist who once faced criminal gambling charges for sweepstakes machines he operated in Duplin County. The charges were later dismissed.

The news release about Goolsby’s new role said that Rep. Harry Warren, a Salisbury Republican, plans to file legislation this session to legalize sweepstakes.

“Internet cafes using a sweepstakes promotion sustain thousands of good jobs and have a positive economic impact on our communities,” Warren said in the release. “Our bill will raise revenue for the state’s critical needs and help strengthen these small businesses.”

The legislature banned sweepstakes in North Carolina five years ago, but business owners challenged the law in court. And while the N.C. Supreme Court upheld the ban, many of the businesses remain in operation using modified software.

Apr 142015


By Sarah Kaplan
April 14 at 5:39 AM

Is science finally becoming friendlier to women?

Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci think so. As the co-directors of the Cornell Institute for Women in Science, they have spent much of the past six years researching sexism in STEM fields. And according to their latest study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, women are no longer at a disadvantage when applying for tenure-track positions in university science departments. In fact, the bias has now flipped: Female candidates are now twice as likely to be chosen as equally qualified men.

“It is a propitious time for women launching careers in academic science,” the researchers declared.

The finding is based on a survey of nearly 900 faculty members from 371 schools across the country. In a series of experiments, evaluators were presented with profiles of fictional job candidates and asked to rank them according to who was most qualified for an assistant professorship in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology. In nearly every case, the female candidates were more likely to be ranked higher, regardless of their lifestyle, area of expertise and the evaluators’ field of research. The one exception was with male economists, who showed no gender bias one way or the other.

“At one point we turned to each other while we were coding email responses from faculty across the U.S. and said we hoped that the large preference for women applicants over identically qualified men applicants would slow down because it seemed too large to be believed!” Williams wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed. “It never did slow down, and the final tally was roughly a 2 to 1 preference. So, we were surprised.”

She and Ceci also found that despite the belief that women’s life choices — like taking time off to have children — can put them at a disadvantage, men actually favored women who took extended maternity leave over those who went right back to work at a ratio of 2-to-1 (women slightly preferred female candidates who didn’t take extended leave). Female evaluators also preferred divorced women over married fathers, and both genders favored a single, female candidate over a man with children.

“Anti-female bias in academic hiring has ended,” Williams and Ceci wrote in an op-ed for CNN Monday. “Changing cultural values, gender-awareness training and trends such as the retirement of older faculty members have brought us to a time when women in academic science are seen as more desirable hires than equally competent men.”

This is the latest in a series of studies by the Cornell researchers, many of which have concluded that the scarcity of female faculty in science departments (about 20 percent in most fields) can’t be blamed on innate sexism. In a study published in the journal “Psychological Science in the Public Interest,” they found that young and mid-career women are more likely to receive job offers than male candidates, are paid roughly the same amount, are granted tenure and promoted at the same rate (except in economics), remain in their fields for the same amount of time, and are about as satisfied with their jobs. The study attributes the lack of women scientists to early educational choices — like opting not to take advanced placement calculus and physics in high school, or choosing not to declare a math-intensive major in college — rather than discrimination later on.

In their most recent report, Williams and Ceci also argue that the belief that science is unwelcoming to women may be what keeps so many women out of the field.

“The perception that STEM fields continue to be inhospitable male bastions can become self-reinforcing by discouraging female applicants, thus contributing to continued underrepresentation,” they wrote.

Though the conclusion should be heartening news for proponents of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), who have long argued that hiring bias is holding female scientists back, it contradicts other prominent studies of the issue — a fact that has subjected it to skepticism from other researchers.

Joan C. Williams (no relation to Wendy), a distinguished professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law and co-principal investigator for the Tools for Change project, which tries to level the playing field for women in STEM, told Inside Higher Ed that the Cornell study is “seriously flawed” in its conclusion that science is now a welcoming place for women. She argued that hiring has never really been the main source of discrimination against women.

Joan Williams and others noted that the fictional female candidates in the Cornell study were exceptionally well-qualified, a factor that may have mitigated gender bias. A similar 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which looked at more moderately qualified graduate student candidates for a job in a lab, found that male applicants were much more likely to be hired, given better salaries and offered mentorship.

“I think it’s too soon to say, ‘Okay, problem solved,’” Virginia Valian, who researches gender equity at New York’s Hunter College, told Science Magazine. “We haven’t solved the problem of underrepresentation of women in the sciences … and I wouldn’t want people to think that this paper demonstrates that we have solved it.”

Speaking to Reuters, Wendy Williams countered that criticism.

“We’re not saying women do not face discrimination” in academic science, she said. “But these data speak to a real change. People seem to have internalized the value of gender diversity, and are consciously or unconsciously upgrading women candidates.”

Apr 142015


By Jeffrey J. Selingo
April 13 at 1:25 PM

When George Washington University announced last week that it was laying off nearly 50 employees to reduce costs, the university’s president, Steven Knapp, blamed a decline in enrollment in graduate and professional programs.

Graduate degrees and professional certificates have been the fastest-growing segment of higher education in recent years, and the thinking has always been that when the economy improves, fewer people go back to school for such credentials because they can more easily get jobs instead.

But GW and thousands of other college and universities are mistaken if they think that any downward trend in graduate enrollment is a temporary blip caused by an improving economy. Rather, what is happening now is a permanent shift in how today’s working adults acquire education throughout their lifetimes.

Until now, if you needed additional training to get ahead in your job or switch careers, you had little choice but to enroll in a graduate or certificate program at a local college or online. These programs largely replicated undergraduate programs at colleges in that they required students to start at a specific time and dedicate months or even years to a series of courses. Most of all, the programs were expensive, and came with little, if any, financial aid from the colleges, which saw them as cash cows.

We hear a lot these days about the “student-debt crisis,” but some of the biggest increases in student debt have come at the graduate level, not among undergraduates. A Brookings Institution report released last June found that the average debt levels of borrowers with a graduate degree have more than quadrupled since 1999, from about $10,000 to more than $40,000 (by comparison, those with a bachelor’s degree increased from $6,000 to $16,000).

The graduate and professional education market is ripe for disruption, yet much of the discussion on the changes coming to higher education have focused on undergraduate programs, like the kind Sweet Briar College operates. Persuading 18-year-olds and their parents to think of alternatives to a bachelor’s degree is a tough sell in a culture that celebrates the coming-of-age experience of going off to college. It’s much easier to offer a different pathway at the graduate level, when students already have a bachelor’s degree and they’re often paying the tuition bill themselves.

New players in the market that aren’t traditional colleges — the Khan Academy, General Assembly, Skillshare, Lynda.com, Coursera, and Dev Bootcamp — are starting to attract students who normally would have pursued a graduate degree or certificate. Sure, these so-called “boot camps” don’t have the household brand names of legacy players, but they are largely succeeding where traditional colleges haven’t even tried to compete: with “just-in-time education.”

Think of just-in-time education as when you watch a video on YouTube to figure out how to change a flat tire or fix a broken appliance.

These emerging providers know that today’s economy demands education throughout our careers rather than just at the beginning, so they offer short spurts of content (from a few hours to a few weeks) when students need it instead of giving them a full helping of a degree.

So far, their model is proving popular. The Khan Academy serves 10 million people a month with 5,000 videos. General Assembly has nearly two dozen locations around the world and more than 12,000 alumni who have taken its full- and part-time courses, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s and already have a bachelor’s degree.

And then there is Lynda​.com, which reaches more than 4 million people a year with its how-to tutorials online in everything from management skills to programming. Last week, just as GW was announcing its cutbacks, LinkedIn announced that it was buying Lynda​.com.

The purchase price: $1.5 billion. That’s almost double George Washington University’s annual budget and perhaps the only sign you need to see the kinds of changes coming in graduate-level education.

Apr 142015


By Susan Svrluga April 13 at 12:26 PM

James Wetherbe, a professor of information technology at Texas Tech University, used to hear this kind of comment all the time when he gave speeches to business leaders about innovation and how changes could eliminate jobs while ensuring more production: “Easy for you to say — you’ve got tenure!”

Tenure didn’t square with his principles, even though it benefited him personally. He believes it creates a system that makes it difficult to fire even the laziest and most incompetent of professors. Serving on corporate boards and working with business people made him more acutely aware of the differences.

Finally, bothered by that conflict, about 20 years ago he told the University of Minnesota, where he worked at the time, that he was giving up his own job security.

He hasn’t had tenure ever since. By choice.

Not only that, but he believes so strongly that academic freedom should be protected by the First Amendment — not a job-security plan — that he’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case against Texas Tech.

The tenure system was designed to ensure academic freedom, allowing scholars to ask hard questions and pursue research that might rankle leaders, shake up mainstream thought, question the status quo. It was established long ago, when many universities were closely affiliated with churches.

But now it mostly functions as a job-protection plan, Wetherbe argues.

“The irony of this whole story,” he said, is that “tenure is supposed to protect academic freedom. I have spoken out against tenure, and been retaliated against for that.”

That’s why he’s fighting back: He claims he had the courage to live by his principles, asked to be continuously evaluated on his own performance rather than coasting along, and that his career is suffering for that.

Chris Cook, a spokesman for Texas Tech, said in an e-mail that Wetherbe was not retaliated against because of his views on tenure.

Wetherbe and his lawyer, Fernando Bustos, allege that he was punished more than once for his unpopular stance. A committee recommended Wetherbe twice for the Paul Whitfield Horn Professorship at Texas Tech, one of the top honors at the school. And he was on a short list of professors to be considered for the position of dean of the Rawls College of Business.

But former Texas Tech provost Robert Smith said in a deposition that Wetherbe’s views on tenure made him unfit for either.

“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is crazy,’” Bustos said. “It’s rare that you see such a frank admission of an unconstitutional bias.”

Smith no longer works for the university.

Cook, the spokesman for the university, said Smith was not forced to resign, as Bustos suggests. Smith did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

A trial court ruled that Wetherbe’s speech was protected by the First Amendment, but that was overturned on appeal by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that as a government employee he was talking about his job and that the speech was not constitutionally protected.

So he’s asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Chances are that the court won’t take up the case, just based on the numbers filed. But it’s something Wetherbe feels too strongly about to let drop.

Wetherbe asks students in every class he teaches if they have ever had a professor who was substandard. Every time, he said, all the students raise their hands.

Only 0.02 percent of professors in the United States have their tenure revoked each year, Wetherbe said. “It isn’t because these professors are so great; it is because the system is so terrible. Tenure creates a system where teachers are resistant to new teaching methods because they are protected from the need to grow and adapt. Tenure creates stagnation in the subjects that are taught and research that is conducted. And it layers in tremendous costs to each and every taxpayer.”

If he wins the case, Wetherbe said, he will donate any settlement — minus legal fees — to student scholarships.

Apr 142015


By T. Rees Shapiro
April 13

A group of 10 fraternities and sororities will team up to provide a new nationwide sex assault educational program aimed at preventing sexual violence and abusive relationships among college students.

The program, to begin this fall, will be rolled out in 1,400 fraternity and sorority chapters around the country. It comes as sex assault prevention has taken on national prominence on college campuses.

“One organization alone cannot eradicate the problem of sexual assault on college campuses,” said Carolyn Carpenter, national president of Zeta Tau Alpha, one of the four sororities participating. “We all need to be advocates for healthy relationships and a safe culture, and that’s why we are especially proud to partner with other fraternal organizations to take this vital step toward preventing sexual assault. We are resolved as an organization to do everything possible to empower our students through strong education and support.”

An estimated 120,000 college students will take part in the educational curriculum that will cover topics including bystander intervention, healthy relationships, misconceptions about sex assault and resources and tips for supporting rape survivors.

“As leaders on campus, our collegiate members have the power to influence campus culture,” said Brad Beacham, executive director of Sigma Nu, one of the six fraternities involved. “These ongoing programs prepare them to spark a much-needed shift in attitudes among all college students on issues like sexual assault and relational violence.”

Other Greek organizations in the initiative are the sororities Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Zeta and Pi Beta Phi and fraternities Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Order, Phi Gamma Delta and Phi Kappa Tau.