After layoff uproar at Point Park, faculty voice concerns about campus diversity and stability

In the midst of teaching during the pandemic, a Point Park University professor was not too surprised when she received an email informing her she would no longer be employed after the spring semester. 

Kendra Ross, a 45-year-old Black woman from Pittsburgh, used to work in the music industry and she knew what it was like to be in a cutthroat environment. So much so that she joked with former coworkers at Universal that she packed a box by the door just in case. Still, Ross felt optimistic about teaching at Point Park when she first started. 

She was approached by other faculty to teach in the business program in 2018 and received her doctoral degree at the university two years later. After teaching as an adjunct faculty member, Ross was placed on tenure track in 2019. Then, in February 2021, 17 faculty members, many of whom were from marginalized backgrounds, were among those told that their contracts wouldn’t be renewed for the fall.

Tuition isn’t free, and neither is emotional labor — A conversation with Pitt’s departing Black Action Society president.

Meet Morgan Ottley as she unpacks the lessons and challenges of remotely completing her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh following 2020’s summer of racial reckoning and protests. Morgan discusses the emotional, often invisible labor left to students when universities fall short of solidarity and the future of racial justice and accountability on college campuses. For more insights on the effects of the racial justice movement on higher ed from students, faculty, staff and administrations of Pittsburgh-area universities, check out the accompanying stories to this podcast by PublicSource higher education reporter Naomi Harris. What difference has a year made? Explore the project about calls for racial justice on campuses.

students sitting on a classroom floor doing classwork

At this pivotal moment in education, a challenge to balance new practices with past wisdom

A few weeks ago, a group of students in New Brighton sat down to take a spelling test. Their district has spent the past year seeking out the best ways to use new technology. And yet by choice, this spelling test was given with neatly sharpened pencils and crisp sheets of paper. These kids were working on the core skill of handwriting, says New Brighton Area School District superintendent Dr. Joseph Guarino. And they were reinforcing their knowledge of spelling words through a physical experience that’s long been known to help with learning.

two children building crafts wearing pink sweaters

‘All we are asking for is change!’ How schools are taking steps toward justice-centered learning.

The two Brownsville students knew things needed to change. February was arriving yet again, and their school had no real plan to acknowledge Black History Month. After more than three years of high school, these two seniors had been taught little about Black history and nothing about Black excellence. What they had learned was laid out in the broadest and quickest of strokes. They agreed: An occasional, brief mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t enough for them — or for the other Black students at their school.