Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who is a leading critic of conflicts of interest in biomedical research, is focusing on the issue of journal ghostwriting. The New York Times reported that he has written to 10 medical schools, asking about whether they have policies that deal with issues raised by pharmaceutical companies ghostwriting articles that appear under the names of university researchers.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Continuing a trend in which nonprofit disciplinary societies are turning to commercial publishers, the American Geographical Society and Wiley-Blackwell on Tuesday announced that Wiley would start publishing two journals that have been managed directly by the society until now. The journals are Geographical Review and FOCUS on Geography. The Review has been published by the society since 1856.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is joining Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison in announcing that it will not make the Kindle available to students until the device has improvements to be better enable blind people to use it. "Quite apart from our legal obligations, we at Illinois believe that our technology choices should be shaped by our institutional values and aspirations. We will not embrace technologies that undercut our commitment to accessibility. We will instead apply our ingenuity to technologies that enable everyone to participate more fully in society," said a statement from the university. "Like our colleagues at Wisconsin and Syracuse, we recognize the groundbreaking potential that read-aloud features have for making textbooks accessible to students with disabilities. Sadly, that potential can’t be realized until vendors of e-book readers, like the Kindle, add accessible read-aloud menus and basic navigation to their products."
A key panel on Tuesday rejected a 1 percent tax on tuition proposed by Pittsburgh's mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, but he is vowing to push ahead on the idea, and Tuesday's decision does not block him from doing so, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority unanimously rejected the mayor's plan, citing the tuition tax, which members said had been authorized by no state or city legislation. The mayor blasted authority members, and accused them of conflicts of interest because of some members' ties to local colleges, which oppose his plan. He now plans to seek City Council approval of the tax, which could set the stage for a court battle as colleges are vowing to fight it.
Although more than half of the athletes in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are black, leadership positions are overwhelmingly held by white men, according to a new report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Among the 120 universities in the subdivision, in the 2009 season there are seven African-American coaches, one Latino coach and one Asian coach -- a net increase of one minority coach since 2008. The report also notes that institutional leaders at these universities are overwhelmingly white in the bowl subdivision. White people make up 100 percent of the conference commissioners, 93.3 percent of presidents, 86.7 percent of athletics directors, 92.6 percent of faculty athletics representatives, 92.5 percent of head football coaches, and 82.9 percent of the faculty, the study found.
Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a tentative contract agreement with the university Tuesday, and both parties now say the accord protects tuition waivers. The Graduate Employees Organization, a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, went on strike Monday as contract negotiations broke down. The tentative contract agreement, however, prompted the GEO's strike committee to suspend the strike Tuesday evening in expectation of a ratification of the contract by the full union membership. Prior to the strike, the student employees argued that out of state tuition waivers were insufficiently protected in the contract, but the newly agreed upon language requires the university to bargain with the union if any changes are made to the practice of offering waivers.
George Washington University has become the first college to offer athletic scholarships for squash, The Washington Post reported. The university is among 11 Division I institutions that play squash at the varsity level.
United Students Against Sweatshops has achieved its largest victory to date with the news that Russell Athletic will rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who will regain jobs they lost after their factory unionized, The New York Times reported. Using pledges made by various universities to demand that companies that produce clothing with their logos meet basic standards for respecting worker rights, the student group had been able to get many of those institutions to suspend or end licensing deals with Russell.
The job market for new college graduates has fallen by as much as 40 percent in the past year, according to new data from the Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute. The Michigan State study is based on surveys of 2,500 companies and other hiring entities. Last year, the survey projected an 8 to 10 percent drop in hiring, but the final figures are closer to 40, and an additional 2 percent drop is anticipated on top of that.
Williams College has fired a visiting professor who pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud last week, The Berkshire Eagle reported. Bernard Moore had been a visiting assistant professor, and he had been the organizer of a political symposium that Williams canceled Friday. The fraud charges largely related to conduct prior to his arrival at the college, and a spokesman said that there was no evidence that he misused Williams funds.