Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 6, 2009

The editorial staff of the Oregon Daily Emerald, which went on strike Wednesday in protest of organizational changes, plans to return to work and publish a newspaper today, the newspaper announced Friday.

In an editorial published on the student newspaper's Web site, the Emerald staff said the paper's Board of Directors is open to further discussions about the role of a new publisher. The board had previously agreed to a plan that would place the new publisher in a supervisory role over the editor-in-chief, breaking with the current organizational structure in which the editor only answers to the board.

"The newsroom of the Oregon Daily Emerald still harbors legitimate concerns about the future of this organization and the supervisory role of a professional publisher over our student editor in chief," the editorial stated. "We will not abandon that concern. But we believe it is in the best interest of both the company as a whole and all of our readers to move forward while these serious discussions take place."

The publisher position was to be filled on an interim basis by Steven A. Smith, a former editor of the Spokesman Review who had provided consulting services to the Emerald. Smith decided not to take the job when he learned of the strike, and the board plans to conduct a national search to replace him.

March 6, 2009

New York authorities on Thursday charged that the son of a University of Chicago professor engaged in identity theft and harassment of scholars with whom his father has a long-standing disagreement about the Dead Sea Scrolls, The New York Times reported. Raphael Golb is accused of creating e-mail accounts in which he pretended to be his father's scholarly critics, and of using those accounts to advance his father's theories. Golb is the son of Norman Golb, who has argued -- in contrast to the views of most scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls -- that they were not produced by the Essenes. Raphael Golb is accused of using the e-mail accounts to attack the idea of Lawrence H. Schiffman, a leading scholar of the Dead Sea Scross who disagrees with the elder Golb and who teaches at New York University. Norman Golb told the Times Thursday that his son " “is an honorable person,” and “could not have done such a thing.”

March 6, 2009

The ex-professor and professor whose separate appearances on the college lecture circuit regularly cause controversies appeared together Thursday night -- to still more controversy. William Ayers -- the University of Illinois at Chicago professor who is regularly attacked for his past in the Weather Underground -- traveled to the University of Colorado at Boulder to speak with and on behalf of Ward Churchill, who lost his job teaching there when the university determined that he had engaged in repeated incidents of scholarly misconduct. Churchill maintains that he was fired for his political views, and the joint appearance came just days before a court will consider Churchill's suit against the university charging that he was wrongfully dismissed. Churchill and others have also criticized the university for charging the student group that organized the effort $3,000 for extra security for the event. While the university said that the security enhancements were necessary, students and Churchill said that the fees were an attempt to discourage the event. The Denver Post reported that Ayers, in his remarks, said that the Churchill dismissal could have an impact well beyond his case. "I don't worry about Ward Churchill as much as I worry about the teacher in Denver who teaches social studies and can't bring herself to raise questions because of what she saw happen to Ward Churchill," Ayers said. "The real victims are across the country and across the world and the people we don't know. That is the chilling effect that we should all worry about, those of us who care about democracy."

March 5, 2009

Studies of endowments don't bring good news these days. College endowments in the United States lost an average of 24.1 percent in the last six months of 2008, according to a survey from Commonfund Institute that provides an update on an estimate the organization released two months ago. As is typically the case, the largest endowments did better than smaller endowments. Those with more than $1 billion saw average losses of only 21.7 percent. Those endowments valued at less than $10 million lost an average of 30.2 percent.

March 5, 2009

Officials of the University of Texas at Austin may have a new way to convince legislators to do away with the "10 percent" admissions law: football. The law, adopted as a means to promote diversity, assures admission to any public institution to anyone in the top 10 percent of a Texas high school's graduating class. Because so many of those students enroll at Austin, officials there say that they have lost too much flexibility in admissions decisions. The university's quest to change the law nearly succeeded two years ago, but was killed at the last minute by legislators who think the law is still effective. On Wednesday, William Powers Jr., president at Austin, told lawmakers that without a change in the law, the university would soon reach a point where it could not admit international students or even ... athletes, The Austin American-Statesman reported.

March 5, 2009

More white scholars are teaching black studies, and they are finding students (themselves more likely than in the past to include non-black students) more accepting, the Los Angeles Times reported. A Northwestern University professor quoted in the story says: "There probably are students who wouldn't enroll in a black studies course with a white professor.... But it's my view that students are incredibly open-minded. They may at first say, 'I wonder if this person is qualified,' but students want a teacher who performs well, and, at the end of the day, that's how they'll judge you."

March 5, 2009

This week at Dartmouth College started with the announcement that Jim Yong Kim would become the next president. The choice was well received on campus, while Asian American educators nationally hailed the news because Kim will expand the very small pool of Asian American presidents and will be the first one to lead an Ivy League institution. Students at the college who produce a daily news mass e-mail of short humorous items called the Generic Good Morning Message looked for humor in the news, and have ended up being accused of insensitivity. Their e-mail to campus about the appointment said in part: "On July 1, yet another hard-working American's job will be taken by an immigrant willing to work in substandard conditions at near-subsistent wage, saving half his money and sending the rest home to his village in the form of traveler's checks. Unless 'Jim Yong Kim' means 'I love Freedom' in Chinese, I don't want anything to do with him. Dartmouth is America, not Panda Garden Rice Village Restaurant." (The full text can be found here.) Many students were, to put it mildly, not amused by the attempt at humor, prompting apologies, statements, calls for meetings and more. James Wright, Dartmouth's outgoing president, sent a campus e-mail Thursday calling the message "hurtful to our Asian and our Asian American community and indeed to all of us." Wright also forwarded to the campus a note from Kim, who said he understood the pain felt by Asians at Dartmouth over the e-mail, but did not want people to judge the college by the incident. He said Dartmouth is a place that "cherishes free speech, but also nurtures mutual respect and civility." Kim then went on to express concern for the student who sent the e-mail. Wrote the college's president-elect: "I want to ensure that the student who wrote the e-mail understands the enriching role that people of diverse backgrounds will play in his life. But I also don't want this lapse in judgment to limit his prospects for the future. Dartmouth students are very talented, but we all make mistakes -- especially when we are young."

March 4, 2009

Voters in Davenport, Iowa, on Tuesday rejected a proposal that would pay $20,000 – an award based on the cost of attending a local community college for two years and a state university for two more -- to new high school graduates for use at any college, in- or out-of-state, private or public. Quad Cities Online reported that the measure was supported by only 39 percent of voters. Proponents saw the plan as a way to encourage higher education and attract people to Davenport, but critics questioned whether the city could afford the commitment and whether it would change the decisions people make about where to live.

March 4, 2009

The last few months have seen many of the companies that hire new college graduates revise their plans -- and that's why you may be seeing more anxiety in the career center. Data released Wednesday by the National Association of Colleges and Employers show that hiring of new college graduates this year is expected to be down 22 percent from a year ago. And 22 percent of employers responding to the survey said that they didn't plan to do any hiring at all. While the survey found no parts of the country that are immune from the downturn, the projected hiring declines are the greatest in the Northeast and the West.

March 4, 2009

Eastern Oregon University will end up as the home of a play banned at a local high school -- but administrators at the university administrators aren't boasting about their involvement. The La Grande Observer reported that the La Grande school district banned the play -- Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile -- for "adult content." (That makes the play sound pornographic, but Library Journal described the play this way: "The present work is his first full-length play and has enjoyed commercial success in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It depicts an imaginary meeting of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in 1904 Paris, exploring the impact of art and science on our rapidly changing society. A surprise visit by Elvis adds some satiric commentary from a late-20th-century perspective.") Last week, Eastern Oregon officials declined to let the high school's production of the play be produced at the university, saying that the decision of the local school district should be respected. But a professor and the university's College Democrats have stepped in and requested space to let the high school play be performed. And university officials said that they had no choice under Eastern Oregon rules but to grant the request.

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