Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 6, 2009

For the fifth time in nine years, the University of Maryland Baltimore County won the national college chess championship Sunday, the Baltimore Sun reported.

April 6, 2009

Arts groups and educators are protesting recent notices sent to a dozen fine arts instructors at Parsons the New School for Design, telling them that they will not be teaching next semester, The New York Times reported. Because Parsons relies on part-time instructors for fine arts courses, some see the move as destroying any sense of job security at the institution. Further, the move comes at a time of faculty and student anger over management of the New School, of which Parsons is a part. The arts faculty at Parsons sent a statement to New School leaders saying in part: “To not rehire faculty in this economic climate is both cruel and socially irresponsible. We therefore insist upon an immediate reversal of aforementioned summary firings.” New School officials said that nothing unusual was going on. “This is not a disciplinary action — no one’s been fired,” Tim Marshall, the interim provost, told the Times. “As you update the curriculum, you have to look at the best fit.”

April 3, 2009

A former Harvard Medical School professor falsified data in a study of sleep patterns and has agreed not to participate in Public Health Service activities for three years, the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. The announcement, which was published in the Federal Register, said that Robert B. Fogel, a former assistant professor of medicine at Harvard and former co-director of the Fellowship in Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, fabricated data in a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that contributed to a paper on sleep apnea and obesity. The research integrity office said that Fogel had entered into an agreement to exclude himself for three years from serving in any advisory capacity to the health service and to ensure that any institution that submits a research proposal that includes him must submit a plan to supervise his work.

April 3, 2009

The University of Puget Sound announced that in May it will award honorary bachelor of arts degrees to 39 former students who were among the Japanese Americans sent to internment camps in 1942. University officials believe that only a handful of the former students are still alive, but Puget Sound is trying to reach family members of the deceased, so that the degrees can be presented to someone in person. “Each loyal student removed from campus at that time represented a life and an education suddenly interrupted,” said Ronald R. Thomas, president of the university, in a statement. “By granting these degrees now, we complete a circle, welcoming these individuals into the ranks of alumni and returning them to full inclusion in the Puget Sound community.”

April 3, 2009

The Calder Foundation and the University of Virginia have announced a policy change in response to an unusual protest about a scuplture. When the university installed "Tripes," a masterpiece by Alexander Calder, on the campus, a sign was posting barring photographs of the work, which is on loan from the foundation. Students took to Facebook, suggesting that the policy be protested by having as many people as possible shoot photos of the work -- and students responded, as seen in this photograph from The Cavalier Daily. The university responded with a clarification: While the Calder Foundation bars photography of the sculpture for commercial purposes, students are free to take as many pictures as they would like for their own personal use.

April 3, 2009

A Vancouver accountant has won a victory for all of those who have clashed with the all-powerful campus parking police. Ruling in a class action, a provincial court has found that the University of British Columbia never had the power to issue parking tickets, The Vancouver Province reported. While the university has the right to remove cars that are illegally parked, the court ruled that the university could only charge for costs, not impose additional fines. As a result, the university has been ordered to repay million of dollars of fines it has collected. The case was started by an accountant who was fined and had his Jaguar impounded. Court records in the case suggest that many of those who park at the university weren't waiting for a court ruling: From 1990 through 2005, 432,847 traffic tickets were issued and more than half were never paid.

April 3, 2009

The headlines this week about Ohio State University's $110 million, 10-year contract for media rights to most of its sports program drew attention to an emergent area of big bucks in high-profile college athletics -- terrain that USA Today explored more fully Thursday in a report pegged to this weekend's biggest of all college sports events, the Final Four. The USA Today article, part of a package of stories about commercialism in collegiate sports, explores the relatively sudden explosion onto the college sports scene of IMG, which is providing the money behind the Ohio State deal. The marketing company is best known for representing individual pro athletes in sports such as golf and tennis, but in the last two years it has gobbled up other companies with major stakes in college sports marketing and media matters and is now competing with players such as Nike for visibility and power. And that power concerns some sports officials because of the company's plans to both market colleges' programs and continue to represent individual athletes who might come out of those programs, among other issues.

April 3, 2009

Ralph Slaughter has sued the Southern University Board of Supervisors, challenging its decision not to renew his contract as president when it expires at the end of June. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Slaughter argues that board members were illegally polled in private, before the public vote on his future. As a result, Slaughter is seeking an injunction to void the vote to end his presidency. The suit also contends that some board members had orders from Gov. Bobby Jindal to remove him. The university board's lawyer denied wrongdoing and a spokesman for the governor said that the claim about Jindal's role is "absolutely not" true.

April 2, 2009

Officials at Brigham Young University are apologizing for an accident last week in which all of the students in the College of Humanities (about 2,500) received an e-mail with the grade point averages of all of their fellow students, with names. University officials said that the e-mail with the students' grades was intended for the registrar, and never should have been sent out to everyone. Officials apologized and pledged to institute controls to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

April 2, 2009

Ward Churchill's lawsuit against the University of Colorado is now in the hands of the jury. The Denver Post reported on closing arguments in the case, in which Churchill maintains he was fired for his political views and the university says that he was fired for repeated instances of scholarly misconduct. Patrick O'Rourke, the universit's lawyer, closed by saying: "The University of Colorado must diligently prevent misconduct. That applies to every student and every faculty member to everybody who does anything in the university's name. You cannot plagiarize, you cannot falsify, you cannot fabricate." David Lane, Churchill's lawyer, stressed his belief that university officials were not truthful when they explained the motives for dismissing Churchill. "The regents, the lying liars, and almost all of them got on the stand — you heard them lie about what was on the table," Lane said. "So they go through this charade of fairness."

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