Judge Blocks Part of NYU Expansion Plan

A state judge on Tuesday issued a ruling that will block about half of a controversial expansion plan by New York University, The New York Times reported. The judge ruled that New York City lacked the legal authority to turn over three parks to NYU for the projects, and that such a deal required the approval of the New York Legislature. NYU has not said if it will appeal, but said that the ruling did not affect the largest part of the building project, a tower that could be as high as 26 stories. But critics of the plan said that the ruling essentially meant that the university has to restart the entire project approval process, since earlier approval was for a full plan, not just that tower.


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Questions raised by firing of tenured professor at U. of Illinois

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Academic freedom watchdogs paid little attention to Louis Wozniak's case at U. of Illinois because it appeared he had due process. But was he treated fairly?

Program to Help Tenn. Transfer Students Get Associate Degree

A broad range of Tennessee institutions -- two-year and four-year, public and private -- are collaborating on a new "reverse transfer" program designed to allow students to receive associate degrees from their two-year college after they transfer to a four-year institution. A $400,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation will fund the program.

Each year, officials from the coalition of institutions said, about 2,300 of the students who transfer from Tennessee’s community colleges to four-year institutions are within 15 credit hours of the required 60 for an associate degree. The new online system will centralize transfer students’ academic histories, while mapping out an optional completion path toward obtaining the associate degree.

“We’re on the forefront of this technology, said Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee System. “We know that students who are awarded their associate’s degree while attending a four-year institution are more likely to receive their bachelor’s degree.”

The system, which doesn’t have a formal name yet, will let transfer students know when they have finished the associate degree requirements. As of now, nine public universities, 13 community colleges and eight private institutions are participating in this partnership. DiPietro said he expects the system to fully launch by spring of 2015. 


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Study links tenure criteria to long-term professor performance

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Department chairs report professor incompetence in their institutions when administrative checks to tenure process are lacking, and the process favors publishing quantity over quality, new study finds.

A Lonely President's YouTube Greeting

With students away and many faculty members on vacation, what's a president to do? Troy D. Paino, president of Truman State University, posted this video to YouTube to give students a sense of what a president does when there's hardly anyone around.


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Lawsuit Draws Attention to Tailgating Dangers

A civil lawsuit in South Carolina against people associated with tailgating at a University of South Carolina football game is raising questions about these events, The State reported. The suit concerns the death of a man who was crushed after he fell -- during a fight -- under a pickup truck. The article notes that the two men in the fight didn't attend or intend to attend the actual football game. The death and the resulting legal dispute have "opened a window into a world of fan mania and marathon drinking by some tailgaters who never go inside the stadium to watch the game," the article said.



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Historians discuss challenges of general education

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At gathering of historians, professors like the idea of talking about their discipline's role in the curriculum, but fear too much regulation.

The Deadliest Fraternity

An investigation by Bloomberg has found that there have been a total of 60 fraternity-related deaths since 2005, and that 9 of those deaths have been at events linked to a single fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Colleges have suspended or closed at least 15 chapters in the past three years, and have disciplined more than 100 chapters since 2007. The article by Bloomberg also details hazing practices, describing an eight-week initiation at Salisbury University, for example, in which a pledge alleged and the university confirmed that fraternity members "forced pledges to drink until they almost passed out and dressed them in women’s clothing and diapers.... Fraternity members confined recruits for as long as nine hours in a dark basement without food, water or a bathroom, while blasting the same German rock song at ear-splitting volume."

Frank Ginocchio, SAE’s general counsel, told Bloomberg that the the deaths linked to events at the fraternity reflected a "perfect storm," not a problem with the organization. “We try, and we keep on trying,” Ginocchio said. “I don’t think our procedures, our rules and risk management are much different from any other fraternity. We’ve all had some bad cases and sad occurrences.” The fraternity says that it does not tolerate hazing.


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Flurry of Rulings on Religious Institutions and Health Law

The past few weeks have seen a series of rulings on whether some parts of the new federal health law requiring employers to provide coverage that includes birth control should apply to religious institutions that oppose birth control or some forms of birth control. The new law exempts churches from birth control requirements that conflict with their beliefs, but this does not extend to religious institutions such as colleges and social service organizations. Under a compromise proposed by the Obama administration, such institutions will not have to pay for birth control coverage, but their employees and students will be able to obtain birth control through arrangements with insurance companies.

On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary stay of the birth control requirement for religious institutions, and asked the Obama administration to file a response on Friday. The ruling came in a suit brought by an order of nuns that operates nursing homes for low-income people. Also in December, several religious colleges won injunctions against parts of the health care law, while the University of Notre Dame was denied such an injunction. Notre Dame is vowing to appeal. A Supreme Court ruling in the case involving the nuns could resolve many of these disputes. Justice Sotomayor's injunction was not a ruling on the merits of the case.




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Court Backs U. of California in Records Dispute

A California appeals court has ruled that the University of California System does not need to obtain and release investment return records, Bloomberg reported. A lower court ruled that that the university had to do so under the state's open records laws. But the appeals court ruled that those laws apply only to records the university has, not those that it could obtain. Reuters sought the records.



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