Wake Tech Community College stands out in national faculty workplace survey

The Chronicle of Higher Education has just published its survey results for the 2010 edition of Great Colleges to Work For (in the United States). The entire methodology is behind a paywall but here’s what I can share without violating the conditions of my personal subscription:

This year The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For survey is based on responses from more than 43,000 people, at 275 institutions. Four-year colleges and universities accounted for 221 of the institutions, and two-year colleges for 54.

Approximately 20,000 of the people responding were faculty members, more than 14,800 were professional staff members, and 8,100 were administrators. The survey was sent to more than 100,000 people, with an overall response rate of 45 percent. The assessment was administered by ModernThink LLC, a human-resources-consulting firm based in Wilmington, Del. Its survey instrument is based on an assessment that has been used in 55 Best Places to Work programs involving more than 4,000 organizations. A panel of higher-education experts has helped to customize the survey to reflect issues unique to colleges.

In our neck of the woods, three North Carolina institutions made the list of 97: Duke University, Elon University, and Wake Technical Community College.

Wake Tech is particularly noteworthy because it was the only one of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges to rank on the Honor Roll of those institutions with the largest number of category recognitions: Collaborative Governance, Job Satisfaction, Confidence in Senior Leadership, Supervisor/Department-Chair Relationship, Respect & Appreciation.

While Elon was recognized for many of the same categories, Duke University’s recognition was restricted to facilities, workspaces, and security.

As regular readers know, I’ve been a big fan of community colleges and their lower cost makes many of these programs accessible to a wider range of students.  Most impressive to me is that Wake Tech was only one of nine, two-year colleges in the US to make this list, and only one of three with more than 10,000 students.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with graduates of Wake Tech’s biopharmaceutical technology program and have been uniformly impressed by their excellence in both the classroom and the laboratory. So, heartiest congratulations to my colleagues at Wake Tech!

Happy, valued faculty seem to make for outstanding students.

What a revolutionary idea.

Featured alumni of the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy: Sandra Leal, PharmD, CDE (repost)

I had the great pleasure last week to visit the launchpad of my academic career: the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy.  Recently relocated from the historic 9th & Colorado campus in Denver, the School currently occupies academic and research buildings at the impressive new University of Colorado Denver’s Anschutz Medical Campus six miles east in the city of Aurora.

Next year, the UCD School of Pharmacy will be celebrating the centennial of its establishment on the University of Colorado at Boulder main campus. In a discussion with Dana Brandorff, Director of Communications and Alumni Affairs, about potential centennial publicity activities, I suggested that the School feature some of its more noteworthy alumni.

As an example, I wish to offer this repost of an interview with one of my own former students, Sandra Leal, as written on October 10, 2009, for the Diversity in Science blog carnival in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Note: The following post appeared originally at the former ScienceBlogs home of Terra Sigillata on 10 October 2009.


This month, DrugMonkey is hosting the Diversity in Science Blog Carnival, started by DN Lee of Urban Science Adventures! to celebrate the scientific contributions of individuals from underrepresented groups. To celebrate US Hispanic Heritage Month, DM asked for us “to write and submit your posts in honor of scientists whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central or South America.”

One of the greatest rewards of being an academic scientist is watching remarkable people pass through your laboratory and classroom who then go on to do amazing things. Upon reading Drug’s call, my mind turned immediately to a perfect subject for this carnival. Continue reading

The Cancer Letter reveals Rhodes Scholar falsification by Duke cancer researcher

This is not good. Not good at all.
On Friday, Paul Goldberg of The Cancer Letter reported on an investigation into Duke cancer researcher, Anil Potti, MD, and claims made that he was a Rhodes Scholar – in Australia. The misrepresentation was made on grant applications to NIH and the American Cancer Society.
The Cancer Letter, a $375/year go-to newsletter on cancer research, funding, and drug development, has made this issue free at this PDF link.
News & Observer higher education reporter, Eric Ferreri, has a nice overview of the situation. Potti has been placed on administrative leave by Duke and the American Cancer Society has suspended payments on his grant and initiated their own investigation.
This news follows on questions regarding Potti’s highly-promoted research conducted in the lab of Joe Nevins at Duke. From The Cancer Letter PDF on page 6:

The Nevins and Potti team emerged as pioneers of personalized medicine in 2006, when Nature Medicine published their paper claiming that microarray analysis of patient tumors could be used to predict response to chemotherapy.
However, two biostatisticians at the MD Anderson Cancer Center attempted to verify this work when oncologists asked whether microarray analysis could be used in the clinic. Keith Baggerly and Kevin Coombes, the statisticians, found a series of errors, including mislabeling and an “off-by-one” error, where gene probe identifiers were mismatched with the names of genes.
Baggerly and Coombes said they devoted about 1,500 hours to checking Potti’s and Nevins’s work. These efforts–dubbed “forensic bioinformatics”–resulted in a paper in the November 2009, issue of the Annals of Applied Statistics.

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HBCU medical schools at Morehouse, Meharry, and Howard lead “social mission” metric – Annals of Internal Medicine

ResearchBlogging.orgReuters Health Executive Editor and proprietor of the excellent Embargo Watch blog, Ivan Oransky, was kind to alert me to this topical paper that appeared in Monday’s issue of Annals of Internal Medicine entitled, The Social Mission of Medical Education: Ranking the Schools.
To the credit of the Annals, the full text of the primary article is currently free. An accompanying editorial is behind the subscription wall.
The study was conducted led by Fitzhugh Mullan with Candice Chen, MD, Gretchen Kolsky, and Michael Spagnola from the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington University and Stephen Petterson, PhD from The Robert Graham Center was supported with funding from the Josiah Macy Foundation.
The authors developed a metric called “social mission” to rate US medical schools on their responsiveness to three major issues they cite as facing medical schools and policymakers: “an insufficient number of primary care physicians, geographic maldistribution of physicians, and the lack of a representative number of racial and ethnic minorities in medical schools and in practice.”

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Jason Dorsette: Maximizing collegiate success for African-American men

pic2.jpgIn the 18 years from my first faculty appointment, one of the most satisfying parts of the journey has been watching students come through my life who you can tell – you just “know” – are going to make a huge difference in the world. (I previously wrote of one of these here, Arizona clinical pharmacist, Sandra Leal, PharmD.)

Well, two years ago, I was at the kickoff of a Juneteenth celebration at my new institution and was immediately drawn to this striking young man who, after speaking with him for a spell, convinced me that he was going to be one of these kinds of students.

It’s not just that he stands out from a crowd because he’s taller than me. Anyone who has met Jason Dorsette will tell you that the man just simply exudes warmth and elegance. And not just because he is literally tall, dark, and handsome. He makes you feel welcomed, listened to, and valued. You see him making an impact in everything he touches, from leading the NCCU Graduate Student Association to building through Habitat for Humanity to leading a new university initiative to cultivate young African-American men for collegiate success.

I view Mr. Dorsette as a role model. And I’m just a professor from a completely different discipline.

In our continuing series reviewing issues raised at the Centennial HBCU Symposium in Research Triangle Park, NC on June 3-4, 2010, I want you to know more about Jason Dorsette. I have no doubt that you will hear much more about him in the years to come.

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The Chronicle morning round-up

Waiting for that coffee to take effect but want it to appear you are doing something scholarly?
Have a look at this pair of highly-read posts at The Chronicle of Higher Education:
We Must Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality Research
The most-viewed article of the last two days at the online presence of the nation’s leading higher ed publication, this team-authored position piece has been a magnet for criticism. The thread of 102 comments (thus far) is as worthy of your time, if not more, and the humorous and insightful payoff by commenter #100 is clever and spot-on, IMHO.
Why ‘Female’ Science Professor?
Written by the Grande Dame of science professor blogging (yes, I used a gendered term but it is one of respect as coined by DrugMonkey), the “midcareer female professor of the physical sciences at a major research university” holds forth on the reasons she uses “Female” in her blog ‘nym and title. So deal.

Amy Bishop indicted for 1986 shooting murder of brother

Was just checking the old SiteMeter stats before foraging for dinner and saw a surge in search hits for “Amy Bishop.”
Yup. Lo and behold she has been charged with murder – for the 1986 death of her brother.
From an article an hour ago by Donovan Slack and Shelley Murphy at the Boston Globe:

The slaying of Seth Bishop was declared an accident by Norfolk County authorities at the time. But questions were raised about the investigation after Bishop, a college professor, was charged in February in a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Three of Bishops’ colleagues were fatally shot and three wounded in that case.
[District Attorney William R.] Keating said an indictment warrant has been lodged with Alabama authorities. He indicated that he would give the Alabama triple murder case priority. Asked whether Bishop would ever be tried in Massachusetts for murder, Keating said, “You never know.”
. . .Shortly after the Alabama shootings, Keating launched a review of the Braintree slaying and concluded that Bishop should have been charged at the time with assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.
Keating also found that police reports, along with crime scene photos, suggested Bishop may have intentionally shot her brother. One photo of her bedroom, where she had loaded the 12-gauge shotgun, showed a National Enquirer article chronicling actions similar to Bishop’s that day. The article reported that a teenager wielding a 12-gauge shotgun killed the parents of actor Patrick Duffy, who played Bobby Ewing on the television show, “Dallas,” and then commandeered a getaway car at gunpoint from an auto dealership.

Many a “what if?” reverberating across the Southland this evening.
The following list provides our previous posts on the gut-wrenching Amy Bishop murders at the University of Alabama – Huntsville:

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HBCU Symposium discussion of math skills

In continuing our discussion of the Centennial HBCU Symposium held June 3-4 in Research Triangle Park, NC, I wanted to briefly follow up a theme that emerged several times across the diverse talks.
Outside of a high dropout rate, a major challenge to African-American students succeeding in universities is poor preparation in math skills from high schools. Of course, this is not just a problem of this demographic but, sadly, is a major challenge we see everywhere in the US and has been especially evident in our ScienceBlogs annual support of the DonorsChoose project.
This point seems obvious but math skills are far more important than just for success in the STEMM disciplines.
In the June 9th edition of The New York Times, Bob Tedeschi discusses a study (PDF) with senior author Columbia University business professor, Stephan Meier, on the role that poor math skills may be playing in the current mortgage foreclosure epidemic.

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Brian Kennedy on the continued relevance of HBCUs

As launched with yesterday’s post, we’ll be spending this week presenting my impressions of a symposium held on June 3-4, 2010, entitled, “Setting the Agenda for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” Sponsored by North Carolina Central University, one of five HBCUs in the University of North Carolina system, this gathering of national education leaders culminated a year long celebration of the centennial of the 1910 founding of the institution by businessman, teacher, and pharmacist, Dr. James E. Shepard.
A native of Raleigh, Shepard earned a Ph.G. in pharmacy (the original pharmacy degree) in 1894 from the Leonard Medical School at Shaw University. After establishing the first pharmacy in Durham that served African-American clientele, Shepard was central to the founding of two institutions that established the Bull City as a beacon of Black business activity in the South: the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (1898) and Mechanics & Farmers Bank (1907).
HBCUs have tended to focus on their rich history of struggle and accomplishment but the symposium focused on moving forward as an institution in today’s highly-competitive higher education landscape and global economy. Scholars far more qualified than I have held forth on the continued relevance of the HBCU.
But as a white professor from the North at a HBCU, what I find most refreshing is learning from students about how the HBCU experience is relevant to them – today. I want to share one example with you in this post.
Brian Kennedy is a native of the Charlottesville, Virginia area and is a rising junior in political science at NCCU. He was recently elected vice-president of the NCCU Student Government Association. Brian qualifications could have easily gotten him into UVa, or any university for that matter, but he chose only to apply to Howard University and NCCU. (This reminds me of a Temple University commercial on Philadelphia television stations in the early 1980s featuring Bill Cosby speaking about specific students and their qualification with his tagline, “She could’ve gone anywhere. She chose Temple.”)
On day one of the HBCU Symposium, Brian gave the lunch address in a session entitled, Student Matters: Manifestations of the HBCU Experience. Brian was swamped with attention following the session but he took time later in the day to share with Terra Sigillata readers the highlights of his talk. Toward the end we also shared a few laughs as to whether students want blogging professors in their social media affairs.

Many thanks to Mr. Kennedy for talking with us about his talk and his own influences and motivations for choosing to attend a HBCU.

NCCU Centennial HBCU Symposium – Setting the Agenda for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

HBCU Symposium.jpg
On June 3rd and 4th, I had the pleasure of attending a fabulous program on the modern role and future sustainability of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States. The HBCU Symposium: Setting the Agenda for Historically Black Colleges and Universities was the culmination of the 100th anniversary of the founding of North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
NCCU is one of five HBCUs in the University of North Carolina system and among 11 such institutions of higher learning in the state (list and links here). I currently serve on the faculty of this institution.
For those unfamiliar, HBCUs were classified by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Higher Education Act of 1965 as institutions established prior to 1964 with the intention of providing higher education to the Black community. There remain 105 such institutions today, primarily in established former slave states following the Civil War.
However, the original HBCUs were founded in the North prior to the Civil War by the generosity of Quaker, Episcopalian, and other abolitionist supporters of the day: what is now Cheyney University (1837) and Lincoln University (1854) in Pennsylvania and Wilberforce University (1856) in Ohio.
Our September 2008 post for National HBCU Week provides more introductory background on these institutions as well as a round-up of commentary around the blogosphere on the continued relevance of these institutions.
It is important to note that the special federal classifications of these institutions was not meant for any preferential treatment of Black students but rather simple parity with historically White institutions. But among public HBCUs, state higher education funding per student averages about 3/5ths that of historically White institutions, a fraction whose irony is not lost on me.

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