Hundreds of academics have urged the University of Zurich to restore the job of Iris Ritzmann, a professor at the university's Institute for the History of Medicine, SwissInfo reported. She was fired for confidential documents to reporters that deal with criticism of Christoph Mörgeli, the head of the university’s Medical History Museum, who is also a politician. Statements by Ritzmann's supporters say that she has defended academic standards, and was punished for political reasons. The rector, Andreas Fischer, has resigned amid the controversy, saying he took "ultimate responsibility" for what has happened.
U.S. News -- with money from Qatar Foundation -- looks to evaluate universities in the Middle East while two British rankers plan to compare universities in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly issued a statement Thursday saying she was pleased that faculty voted to continue the college's partnership with Peking University. More than 130 Wellesley faculty had signed a letter earlier this year saying they would urge the college to reconsider its partnership with Peking if it fired an economics professor, Xia Yeliang, “based solely on his political and philosophical views." Xia’s contract was not renewed last month in a decision that many in the West view as retribution for his criticism of the Chinese government, though Peking maintains it was a result of his teaching and research record.
Bottomly’s statement does not speak directly to the issues raised by the Wellesley faculty letter in regards to academic freedom and conditions for collaboration with universities in authoritarian societies. Rather, the statement speaks more broadly to the faculty role in determining the future direction of the partnership.
“A dedicated group of faculty will develop Wellesley’s recommendations for the parameters and elements of the partnership,” she said. “These recommendations will be brought to the full faculty body at Wellesley for approval and will then be shared with faculty counterparts at Peking University for their consideration.”
Susan M. Reverby, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Wellesley who was one of the leaders of the letter-writing campaign, wrote that she believed the letter-writers did in fact achieve a great deal. She said that the faculty action, among other things, “raised the question of what these partnership qua exchanges are about,” “reminded our colleagues they should not give up their control over the educational experience (writ large) of our students and that more transparency in the process is absolutely required,” and “made it clear that academic freedom and human rights matter even when we engage with countries whose political cultures are different from ours (and even when many of us disagree with what our own country does too).”
“Furthermore,” she wrote, “we have hopefully made it more difficult for Professor Xia to be persecuted, even jailed, at home and found a way to bring him here (something we did not expect to happen when we first began this process of questioning the partnership).”
In a previous statement President Bottomly indicated she is supportive of efforts to bring Xia to Wellesley as a visiting scholar, but Thursday’s statement did not speak to that subject. A college spokeswoman said that nothing has been finalized yet in this regard.
Faculty at Wellesley College have voted to continue the institution's partnership with Peking University, subject to oversight by the college's Academic Council, according to Thomas Cushman, a professor of sociology who spearheaded a letter-writing campaign on behalf of Xia Yeliang, an associate professor of economics at Peking who was fired in October. Many view Xia's termination as retribution for his criticism of the Chinese government, although the university says the decision was based on his teaching and research record. More than 130 Wellesley faculty members had signed a letter objecting to the termination of Xia “based solely on his political and philosophical views” and saying that they would urge the Wellesley administration to reconsider the college’s institutional partnership with Peking if it fired Xia.
Wellesley is expected to release a statement on the matter today. In a previous statement, the college's president, H. Kim Bottomly, indicated she is supportive of efforts to bring Xia to Wellesley as a visiting scholar.
Trinity College Dublin and the University of Melbourne will become the first international participants in the course consortium Semester Online, the education technology company 2U announced on Wednesday.
Semester Online enables students to enroll in for-credit online courses offered by faculty members at participating institutions -- or keep up with their studies while away from those campuses. Students complete coursework on their own time, but the courses also include online face-to-face sessions. The effort is being piloted this fall and will launch in January.
Trinity College and Melbourne will supply one course each to the spring semester offerings: "Ireland in Rebellion" and "Classical Mythology," respectively.
With the addition of the two new partners, the Semester Online consortium now includes 10 institutions. Trinity College and Melbourne join Boston College, Brandeis, Emory, Northwestern and Wake Forest Universities; the Universities of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Notre Dame, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that male and female students will be segregated in university dorms, the Associated Press reported The issue points to continuing tensions between Erdogan’s Islamic-leaning government and secular-minded Turks, many of whom accuse Erdogan of imposing his conservative beliefs on society at large. Erdogan said of the decision regarding dorms that the government has a duty to students’ parents.
Cornell University is expected to soon announce that it will return about 10,000 ancient tablets to Iraq in what would be one of the largest returns of artifacts by an American university, The Los Angeles Times reported. The artifacts provide key details on life in Mesopotamia. While officials have found no evidence of wrongdoing in the donation of the artifacts, Iraq's government has requested them back and some have suggested they were looted after the 1991 Gulf War. Cornell officials declined to comment, but have been negotiating over the return with federal officials.