Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 3:00am

At a time that most British universities are announcing cutbacks, the University of Birmingham has announced plans to hire 50 postdoctoral fellows from around the world in a range of disciplines, on a track that would convert their jobs to permanent faculty positions within five years. Also notable is that the searches are in humanities and social sciences fields (among the areas in which expertise is sought are Europe, memory and exile and 20th century music) along with the scientific fields that are attracting much of the government support in Britain today.

Adam Tickell, Birmingham’s pro vice chancellor for research and knowledge transfer, said in an interview Monday that the positions would convert into the equivalent of associate professor positions (with tenure), and that he was confident of attracting an influx of talent worldwide. Birmingham is using reserve funds for the expansion, something Tickell said that the university is able to do because it does not have debt.

"I'm very aware that other universities aren't in a position to hire people right now, so we should be getting very good people interested," he said. "We're in a buyer's market in some respects."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Claude Steele, who left Stanford University to become provost of Columbia University two years ago, is returning to the Farm. Steele will become dean of Stanford's influential School of Education. While at Stanford, Steele's work in social psychology led to positions as Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Robert Holub is not going quietly from the chancellor's position of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A university committee recommended that his contract not be renewed and news of that decision was leaked to The Boston Globe in May. Now, the Globe reported, Holub is demanding an investigation by the state attorney general into the leak, which he argues violated university regulations about confidentiality.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Anthropological Association has released guidelines for evaluating faculty members who work in applied anthropology, including public interest and community work. The guidelines suggest that faculty members can be evaluated on grounds beyond traditional research publications, while still applying rigor to reviews. Similar discussions in the fields of history and sociology have encouraged broader definitions within tenure reviews of contributions to a discipline.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The W.M. Keck Foundation will today announce a $150 million gift to the University of Southern California medical school and its affiliated hospitals, The Los Angeles Times reported. The money will be used to recruit top faculty members and to promote their research efforts. The gift is the university's third 9-figure gift in 2011.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Authorities in South Korea report that they have found the body of Lim Sang-gyu, president of Sunchon National University, dead in an apparent suicide, the Associated Press reported. Lim, a former government officials, was reportedly facing a corruption investigation.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a legal challenge to New Jersey's rejection of the state grant application of a U.S.-born student whose parents immigrated to the United States illegally, the Associated Press reported. The ACLU says that New Jersey's Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, the state's aid agency, appears to be deviating from the legal norm of recognizing the rights of those born in the United States as citizens. The authority did not respond to questions, citing the ongoing litigation.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Regina planned with a local business group to sponsor a series of lectures by professors in a public park during the summer, but the faculty members have all called off their talks after the business group objected to one of the topics planned for discussion, Global Regina reported. The lecture topic was the movement to boycott Israel as a means of helping the Palestinians. When Emily Eaton, the geography professor who planned that topic, said that she was uninvited to speak, her colleagues decided they would not speak either.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Remember how the Republican-led House of Representatives was going to eliminate earmarks? According to The Boston Globe, the House has allowed hundreds of millions of special authorizations (which in many ways resemble earmarks and which in many cases could benefit individual colleges and universities) to be inserted into the military spending bill. The authorizations are not as specific as earmarks and theoretically are open to competitions. But the Globe noted that many are written with language used by lawmakers to previously insert earmarks into the bills to benefit institutions in their districts, and that the language gives those institutions an apparent advantage, should the measures become law.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

John Wendell, an accounting professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, suspects that the institution is spending too much on outside law firms, so he filed an open records request for three years of legal invoices. The Star-Advertiser reported that the university told him it would cost him $40,000 in fees -- and officials later said that the real bill might be $100,000. The university says that it faces real expenses in producing the records. But Wendell and other faculty critics say that the university is using the fees to discourage requests. "The university administration wants autonomy but not accountability. It's as simple as that," he said.

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