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Quick Takes: Horowitz Disrupted at Emory, Deal in Works on 'Fighting Sioux' Name, Randolph Eliminates 5 Departments, International Rankings Questioned, N.J. Colleges Criticized, NCAA Punishes Ark., Court Win for Chapman, Deadlines Extended for Fire Region

October 26, 2007
  • David Horowitz, the conservative activist, and his allies have been giving speeches denouncing radical Islam on campuses all week as part of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" -- viewed by many critics as a cover for spreading fear about Muslims. At Emory University, Horowitz was largely unable to give his speech, and police had to escort him from the stage as protesters shouted "Heil Hitler," among other things, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (last item). A detailed account and an online discussion of the incident appear in The Emory Wheel. On Horowitz's Web site, the Emory protesters are being described as "leftist brown shirts."
  • The University of North Dakota, which has vowed to fight in court as long as possible to keep its "Fighting Sioux" team name, is apparently considering a compromise with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is demanding that the name -- deemed offensive by Native American groups -- be replaced. The Grand Forks Herald reported that a plan under discussion would create a three-year "cooling off period" during which the university would have to either win tribal approval for the name or end its use.
  • Randolph College, a liberal arts institution in Virginia that admitted men and changed its name this year, announced Thursday that it is eliminating five departments: anthropology, Asian studies, American culture, German studies and Russian studies, The News Advance reported. The newspaper said that the eliminations -- along with the loss of nine faculty positions -- would take place over this academic year and the next one. The college has said that it is facing a serious financial crisis.
  • A new study published in BioMed Central questions the value of international rankings of universities, finding that the wide variations among them and their methodologies points to their less than scientific nature. The study focuses on the rankings published by The Times Higher Education Supplement and by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The conclusion of the BioMed Central article: "Naive lists of international institutional rankings that do not address these fundamental challenges with transparent methods are misleading and should be abandoned. We make some suggestions on how focused and standardized evaluations of excellence could be improved and placed in proper context."
  • A state agency in New Jersey offered a scathing assessment of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey -- and all of public higher education, in fact -- in a report issued Thursday. The review by the state Commission of Investigation, which was prompted by the recent corruption scandal at the medical school, concluded that the entire public university system is "vulnerable to waste, abuse and violations of the public trust" and called for "comprehensive structural change [to] protect all state colleges and universities -- and the taxpayers’ investment in them -- from questionable and patently abusive operating practices." The report says that the state's deregulation of higher education under former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman has resulted in a range of inappropriate practices, including "questionable and undocumented travel, business and entertainment expenditures," "excessive intrusion of politics," and "virtually unrestrained borrowing" by public institutions. The report calls for giving significantly more authority to the State Commission on Higher Education, limiting lobbying and revamping campus boards of trustees, among other things. Officials at several public universities balked at the report's findings and recommendations, with Rutgers University criticizing the secretive nature of the investigation and discouraging "any recommendations that would intrude upon the long-honored academic independence" of the university.
  • The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville must vacate two national championships won by its men's track team in 2004 and 2005 and face scholarship and recruiting restrictions as a result of its third major violation of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules within a decade, the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions announced Thursday. In this case, a former assistant men's track coach (not named by the NCAA, as is its policy, but identified in news reports as Lance Brauman) engaged in unethical conduct in providing improper financial and academic benefits to a prospective "world class" track athlete (the sprinter Tyson Gay) who went on to compete for the university and lead it to those two national outdoor track titles. Arkansas was deemed a "double repeat violator" by the infractions committee because of major violations it faced in 1997 and 2003; the 1997 case involved similar sorts of violations to the current case. The university's chancellor, John A. White, said in a statement Thursday that Arkansas would appeal the penalties, which he described as "disproportionate" to the violations.
  • A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a False Claims Act lawsuit in which former instructors had accused Chapman University of defrauding the federal government of student aid by systematically giving students in some of its clinical programs too few hours of classroom instruction -- charges that the university vehemently denied. Chapman's chancellor, Gary Brahm, said in a statement: "Chapman has maintained from the outset of this case that these claims were completely without merit. The court’s decision reaffirms the propriety of our conduct, and we are grateful the court has recognized that a trial is unnecessary. We can now redirect the resources we had diverted to defending this baseless claim to the university’s mission of providing an outstanding education to its students.” A lawyer for the former adjunct instructors, Daniel R. Bartley, vowed to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Several colleges -- among them American University, the University of Denver and the University of Rochester -- have announced that they will extend application deadlines for those affected by this week's fires in Southern California.
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