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Four college and university educators who emphasize hands-on research and teamwork have been named national winners of the 2009 U.S. Professors of the Year Awards.

Two of the winners, Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year, Rob Thomas, professor of geology at the University of Montana Western, and Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year, Richard L. Miller, professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, are NEA higher education members through their respective local Associations, the University of Montana-Western Faculty Association, and the University of Nebraska-Kearney Education Association.

The Professor of the Year awards, from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, are intended to recognize professors for their commitment to undergraduate students. The other national winners are Brian P. Coppola, chemistry professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Tracey McKenzie, professor of sociology at Collin College, Frisco, Texas. In addition to the four national winners, state-level Professors of the Year have been recognized in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. Details at

-AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other progressive leaders have joined together to call for urgent action to create jobs and rebuild the economy.
Trumka laid out five critical points that must underlie a new jobs agenda:
1. Extend the lifeline for jobless workers.
2. Rebuild America’s schools, roads, and energy systems.
3. Increase aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services.
4. Fund jobs in our communities.
5. Put TARP funds to work for Main Street.
Trumka said that the coalition will push the White House and Congress to act on these recommendations immediately, starting at President Barack Obama’s Dec. 3 Jobs Summit.

Faculty & Staff

The nation’s colleges and universities reported employing approximately 3.7 million people in fall 2008, about 2.4 million full time and 1.3 million part time, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education. 
“Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2008, and Salaries of Full-Time Instructional Faculty, 2008–09, First Look,” also reports that for all Title IV postsecondary institutions, on average, professors earned $101,658, associate professors $73,246, assistant professors $61,479, instructors $53,107, lecturers $53,472, and no academic rank $54,743.

Staff at four-year public institutions earned an average salary of $76,126, while those at four-year, not-for-profit institutions earned $77,344. Four-year private for-profit institutions reported an average salary for their staff of $46,097. At public two-year institutions, staff earned an average salary of of $60,212. The report is available on the NCES Web site,

Professional News

Higher Education Watch reports that a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee is looking into charges that some publicly traded for-profit colleges have been pumping up their enrollment numbers by admitting unqualified students.

The concern stems from an undercover investigation conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found a local for-profit college helped prospective students cheat on a federally approved test designed to determine whether they had the “ability to benefit” from a higher education.

Such abuses are serious, the GAO notes, because they can be very damaging to the students involved. “Unqualified students who receive federal financial aid for higher education programs are at a greater risk of dropping out of school, incurring substantial debt, and defaulting on federal student loans,” the report states. Supporters of the for-profit higher education sector say this was an isolated case. More at


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