Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Many college students want commencement speakers who are famous and some new student groups and Facebook pages suggest any kind of fame will do. George Washington University already has a commencement speaker for this year (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg). But students at the university have started a campaign to get Charlie Sheen as the 2012 commencement speaker, attracting considerable support on Facebook and Twitter (typical comment: "I don't want some stiff-ass politician boring me to death as I graduate"). The GW Hatchet, the student newspaper, has declared the movement "a satirical ploy." But the idea may be spreading. Other Facebook pages want Sheen to speak at commencement at the University of Georgia, the University of Missouri at Columbia and West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The relative roles of and relationships between research universities and state college systems are in the state policy spotlight as governors trot out their 2012 budgets. On Tuesday, as expected, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin called for splitting off the flagship University of Wisconsin at Madison from the statewide public college system. Walker said giving Madison "public authority" status -- which he said could also soon be granted to the university's other major research campus, in Milwaukee -- was necessary to give Madison "the tools it needs to remain a world leader in research and instruction -- while continuing to be a driver of economic development for our state." Walker said he was "open to working with lawmakers from both political parties on expanding this concept to the other campuses throughout the University of Wisconsin system," many of whose leaders have opposed the prospect of separating the system's most visible and prestigious campuses from the rest.

Also Tuesday, legislators in Connecticut challenged a proposal by that state's governor, Dannel P. Malloy, that would create a statewide system, but leave the flagship University of Connecticut on its own, The Connecticut Mirror reported. "I feel the UConn system needs to be in the same umbrella," the newspaper quoted State Representative Toni E. Walker as saying. "I want to see another model, and that model includes the University of Connecticut.... If we're going to do this let's not isolate the other universities." Connecticut's commissioner of higher education, Michael Meotti, said at the legislative hearing that treating the institutions differently made sense, given their different student bodies and missions. "That sets them worlds apart. If you put them together then you run too great a risk that one institution's issues will dominate over another."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

An archaeology professor at Loyola University Chicago was sentenced by a federal judge to one year of probation Tuesday after admitting that he stole artifacts from an excavated site in New Mexico, The Chicago Tribune reported. The professor, Daniel Amick, pledged to return the artifacts. Amick and Loyola declined comment. Amick's lawyer said that he took the items for research purposes and would have been eligible for a research permit to work on the site, but had not obtained one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

President Obama on Tuesday named the 10 winners of the National Humanities Medal for 2010. They are:

  • Daniel Aaron, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature Emeritus at Harvard University.
  • Bernard Bailyn, Adams University Professor at Harvard University.
  • Jacques Barzun, former dean and provost at Columbia University.
  • Wendell E. Berry, the poet and novelist.
  • Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University.
  • Stanley N. Katz, director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, the author.
  • Arnold Rampersad, biographer and professor and former associate dean at Stanford University.
  • Philip Roth, the novelist.
  • Gordon S. Wood, the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Heidi Newberg discusses how much we have learned about galaxies in the last century, and the mysteries still awaiting discovery. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The London School of Economics and Political Science is facing increased criticism over its ties to Mu’ammer Gaddafi, whose son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi earned a Ph.D. at the university and made large donations to it. Times Higher Education reported that students have expressed outrage that these donations led to agreements by the London School of Economics to operate programs in Libya -- since called off. Students took over a building to demand, among other things, that some of the Gaddafi money be used for scholarships. A statement from the university says that it “shares the students’ revulsion at the recent violence and gross violations of human rights in Libya, and much regrets the association of the school’s name with Saif Gaddafi and the actions of the Libyan regime."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Castleton State College said Tuesday that it had replaced its head football coach after an investigation into charges that he broke National Collegiate Athletic Association rules by helping a player get $22,000 in student loans. The Vermont public college said that the coach, Rich Alercio, had been accused by the NCAA of arranging for a part-time employee of the college to co-sign or endorse three loans for an unidentified player, which would violate the association's rules against improper benefits for athletes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

James Franco has posted a photograph expressing his four-letter-word feelings about The Yale Daily News, the student newspaper at the institution where he is earning his Ph.D. While Franco did not detail his complaints about the publication, it has poked fun at his Oscar hosting and his use of Twitter, among other things. Cokey Cohen, author of some of the articles that may have insulted Franco, responded to the photo in a piece in which Cohen defended his early critiques of the "lame-ness of James Franco's Twitter," but said the photo response was more creative.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York approved Monday the creation of the system’s first new community college in 43 years. The new institution, which has been in development since 2008, will adopt strict policies aimed at producing high student retention and graduation rates. All its students must enroll full time and take a predetermined core curriculum; they will have only 12 majors to choose from, all of them career-oriented.

The institution will open in Manhattan in the fall of 2012. It will initially enroll just 500 students, with the eventual goal of having up to 3,000. The Board of Trustees also approved the new community college’s first eight degree programs: associate’s degrees in business administration, energy services management, environmental science, health information technology, human services, information technology, liberal arts & sciences, and urban studies. Now that the trustees have approved the new college, the proposal goes to the New York State Board of Regents for final review of the institution and its initial set of academic programs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Six higher education groups are urging the U.S. Senate to pass long-delayed legislation this week to overhaul federal patent laws. In a letter to senators, the Association of American Universities and five other associations express their support for the measure, S. 23. The legislation would more closely align U.S. patent laws with those in Europe and Asia in several ways, including by granting patents for a particular innovation to the first inventor to file a patent for it, rather than, necessarily, to the creator of the innovation. An amendment is expected this week that would eliminate the legislation's "first-inventor-to-file" provision, which some lawmakers say would tilt the system against individual inventors and entrepreneurs. The college groups urge senators to reject the amendment.

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